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Era Bell Thompson


Era Bell Thompson, the famed African American author, was born on this day in 1905. In 1917 the Thompson family moved from Iowa to Driscoll, North Dakota where Era Bell grew up in the only black family in the region.

After finishing high school in Bismarck, Thompson attended UND and studied journalism. Although there were few jobs in journalism open to African Americans at the time, Era Bell Thompson persevered, wrote her autobiography American Daughter, and was hired by Ebony in 1947. Continuing to write, Thompson conducted research throughout the world, though not without incident. While traveling in South Africa, Thompson spent a night in a jail cell after government officials informed her that there were no hotel rooms for blacks.

Era Bell Thompson’s writing excellence gained her notoriety throughout the nation, and in her home state, earning her the Theodore Roosevelt Roughrider Award in 1976.


Associated Press, "Era Bell Thompson, 80, Dies; Novelist and Editor at Ebony", The New York Times (accessed July 23, 2008).

"Era B. Thompson", The African American Registry http://www.aaregistry.com/african_american_history/1064/Era_Thompson_helped_shape_Ebony_magazine (accessed July 23, 2008).

"Era Bell Thompson 1905-1986", State of North Dakota http://governor.state.nd.us/awards/rr-gallery/ebthomps.html (accessed July 23, 2008).

Newgard, Thomas P., William C. Sherman, and John Guerrero. African-Americans in North Dakota: Sources and Assessments. Bismarck, ND: University of Mary Press, 1994.

Thompson, Era Bell. American Daughter. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1946.