Fargo History Project: 2019 Edition

NDSU public history students helped produce two short documentary films by the Fargo History Project that are available online.

The first film, “I Plan to Vote with My Daughters: The Story of Women’s Suffrage in North Dakota,” tells the story of the long road to women’s suffrage in North Dakota, while “Degree of Sisterhood: A history of the Alba Bales practice house” describes the significance of the Alba Bales Practice House on the NDSU campus.

Each film is about 15 minutes long and will be followed by question and answer sessions with the students who produced them in associate professor Angela Smith’s Digital History class this fall.

“Every fall my Digital History class works on a new local history project. This year, the students have worked in two teams on these documentaries,” Smith said. “The students researched the topics, wrote the scripts and assembled the stories. I am proud of their hard work and the products they produced. They learned to conduct historical research, write a narrative story, put together storyboards, record voiceovers and find appropriate images to illustrate the topics.”

“I Plan to Vote with My Daughters: The Story of Women’s Suffrage in North Dakota,” provides an overview of two decades of the effort to establish women’s right to vote in North Dakota as well as its part of the national effort to ratify the 19th Amendment which came in 1920.

“Suffragists faced political and moral opposition throughout the country,” said graduate student Kurt Eggers. “Oftentimes we think of anti-suffragists as men who disapproved of the idea of women voting, but there was also pressure from women’s groups who believed women should stay outside the political sphere, even arguing that women could have more influence without the vote.”

According to Eggers, women’s suffrage was an active issue in North Dakota starting at the turn of the century, but suffragists working here didn’t form ND Votes for Women League until 1911 when famous British suffragist Sylvia Pankhurst visited the state and galvanized support for the movement.

A focus on the increased public role of women in the early decades of the 20th century also is addressed in “Degree of Sisterhood: A History of the Alba Bales Practice House.” The historic home economics house was built in 1923 on the NDSU campus. It was named to honor Alba Bales (1879-1967), the first female academic dean at what was then called North Dakota Agricultural College.

Student research illustrates the daily activities undertaken by students in the Alba Bales House and how they evolved over the life of the practice house and the home economics program.

Graduate student Stefanie Aulner said the purpose of the practice house gave her “a better understanding and greater respect for women would undertook a degree in domestic science.”

“I thought it was like a giant puzzle,” said Ellimay Rodriguez Mujica, an undergraduate public history student. “We had little pieces of history scattered around that we fit together to make one large picture.”

Horace E. Stockbridge

Horace E. Stockbridge photo

Horace E. Stockbridge

Horace Stockbridge was the first, and youngest, president of North Dakota Agriculture College, which later became North Dakota State University[1]. He was born in Hadley, Massachusetts on May 15, 1857[2]. He attended Massachusetts Agricultural College, where he received his degree in 1878[3]. He had a strong background in agriculture, which was probably why he was picked to be the president. Prior to his acceptance of the presidency of NDAC, Stockbridge was an associate professor of chemistry at Massachusetts Agricultural College from 1884-1885, a professor of chemistry and geology at the Japanese Imperial College of Agriculture and Engineering from 1885-1889, chief chemist for the Japanese government from 1888-1889, and director of the Experiment Station at Purdue University during the year 1889[4].

Stockbridge was elected president of NDAC in 1890, when he was only 33 years old[5]. He was the one who picked the location of the college, appointed the teachers, oversaw the construction of buildings, and organized the experiment buildings. He designed College Hall, now known as Old Main, and came up with the idea of special short winter courses so that farmers could get the planting done, in subjects like agriculture, chemistry, and other related topics[6]. He resigned from NDAC in 1893, because of political reasons, and then moved to Americus, Georgia[7]. After he left NDAC, Stockbridge became a professor of agriculture at Florida Agriculture College in 1897[8]. He was the agriculture editor and co-founder of the Southern Ruralist from 1906-1922, and in 1922 he started editing for the Southern Farmland and Dairy, which he continued to do until his retirement due to ill health[9]. Horace Stockbridge died on October 30, 1930 in Atlanta, Georgia[10]. In 1957, a new men’s hall on NDAC’s campus was named Stockbridge Hall in honor of the first president of the college[11].

-Rebecca Paton, Digital History 2012
[divider scroll_text=]

[1] NDSU Archives, President Horace E. Stockbridge Papers, 1890-1893.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.


North Dakota Agriculture College (NDAC)

North Dakota Agriculture College (NDAC) was established in 1890, by a law that allowed for an agriculture college to be formed in Fargo, North Dakota . This was part of the United States government’s effort to create colleges for the study of agriculture and the sciences. The following appeared in the Daily Argus on May 2, 1890: “At the meeting of the Fargo Agricultural College board yesterday afternoon the following members were present: J. B. Power of Power, E. M. Upson of Commings, M. Saunderson of Edgely, and O.W. Fancis of Fargo. Mr. Francis was elected president and J. B. Power, secretary. After organization the situation was discussed and steps taken to obtain for the college the $15,000 to be given by the government for an experiment station. The board adjourned until the fifteenth.” When the fifteenth rolled around, the board set up an experiment station that would reveal whether or not this new college would work out. The North Dakota State Legislature set up the rules and regulations for the maintanance and running of the college in the first and second session of the assembly.  The Daily Argus reported on May 16, 1890 that “Forty acres on the Lowell farm, one half mile south of the city, have been secured. Buildings will be secured in the city;” which meant that now the college had a place and buildings in which to meet and hold classes . These buildings were not made for the college, but were existing buildings that were used in case the college failed. The first building specifically built for NDAC, is the building now known as Old Main . At the time of its construction, this building was known as College Hall . Construction on Old Main started in 1891 and was completed in 1892, shortly followed by the “Farm House,” Francis Hall, and the Mechanic Hall in 1893, the Creamery in 1895, and the Festival Hall in 1897 . Old Main held classes, offices and laboratories for the faculty, a library, a gym, an office for the president, and room for an enrollment of 80. The first staff member hired by the school board was Clare B. Waldron, who was a botanist. He arrived in July 1890, and he was the only staff member around for the next three months. On October 15, 1890, the first budget was approved, the president, Horace E. Stockbridge, was hired, and the first three faculty members, Henry L. Bolley, Edwin F. Ladd, and Clare B. Waldron, were hired by the school board . The first regular classes were not held until September 8, 1891 . The students had unofficially called NDAC North Dakota State University right from the beginning, when NDAC was just an experimental school, but the name was not changed until December 8, 1950, because there were not enough votes to officially change the name of the college until 1950 .

Rebecca Paton, Digital History 2012

1 NDSU Archives, Law Passed at the 1st Session of the Legislative Assembly of North Dakota.
2 NDSU Archives, Daily Argus.
3 NDSU Archives, Daily Argus.
4 NDSU Archives, Horace E. Stockbridge Papers, 1890-1893
5 NDSU Archives, Horace E. Stockbridge Papers, 1890-1893
6 NDSU Archives, Horace E. Stockbridge Papers, 1890-1893
7 NDSU Archives, Horace E. Stockbridge Papers, 1890-1893
8 NDSU Archives, Horace E. Stockbridge Papers, 1890-1893
9 NDSU Archives, Horace E. Stockbridge Papers, 1890-1893