Throwback Thursday: Another Look at Dr. Bonnell M. Souder

Willennar Genealogy Center’s collection is full of Throwback Thursday potential, so let’s get our #TBT on!

You might remember that we wrote a short bio on Bonnell Souder a while back. In it, we covered the basics, but in our work on the Extraordinary Hoosiers Project, we’ve gotten to learn quite a bit more about Bonnell through research, items donated by the ACD Museum, and a handwritten, biographical timeline in the back of her 1934 planner.

Here are some other fun facts about Bonnell:


Bonnell Marie Souder was born August 4, 1891, and grew up as an only child. Her father, Ulysses Grant Souder, received his medical degree when she was 9 or 10 years old, and the family moved to Auburn in 1904, when he opened his medical practice here.

She appears to have been on Auburn High School’s debate team in 1908, and she took summer classes in 1909 so she could graduate early before pursuing a degree in medicine at the University of Illinois.

On June 10, 1913, she received her degree as a “Doctor of Medicine and Surgery.” Only 10 out of 125 students in her graduating class were women.


When she returned home, she went into practice with her father. Bonnell was most well-known for her work in obstetrics—during her internship in Detroit, she delivered 8 babies in one day. She said it came so easily because she of her good training in Chicago.

She also specialized in allergies, which “drew patients from a wide region,” according to fellow doctor, Dr. H. V. Hippensteel.


With Mt. Rushmore sculptor, Gutzon Borglum

Bonnell loved to travel, too. In 1922, she visited Europe, and in 1934, she took a road trip out west to California. Her studies in allergies alone took her to places like Spain, Portugal, Australia, and Fiji.

To the left is a photograph of her visiting Mount Rushmore while it was still a work-in-progress.

This is just a brief glimpse into Bonnell Souder’s life, and we’re sure that we’ll continue to learn more as we continue to work on this project. Until then, feel free to stop by the Genealogy Center to check out our new display on Bonnell’s life, featuring photographs, news clippings, and more from our collection.


Want to see more local history? Browse our online photo database or the Genealogy Center’s Facebook page.

About Chelsea

I've been working at Willennar Genealogy Center for over two years now, and I've loved every minute of getting to learn more about the stories of DeKalb County and the surrounding area. I'm interested in all kinds of history, but I'm especially fond of the early film industry, old letters and journals, the DeKalb County Fair, and the Interurban line.
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8 Responses to Throwback Thursday: Another Look at Dr. Bonnell M. Souder

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