In this Issue:
“What Shall Be Done with Her?”: Frances Fuller Victor Analyzes “The Woman Question” in Oregon
by Sheri Bartlett Browne
Sheri Bartlett Browne examines Frances Fuller Victor’s multifaceted contributions to the Oregon equal rights movement in the nineteenth century. Victor provided an intellectual foundation for women’s economic and political activism through her fiction and prose essays during the 1870s. She often wrote for Abigail Scott Duniway’s weekly newspaper, TheNew Northwest. Critiquing American gender norms, Victor argued forcefully that a deeply unequal social system condemned women to a subjugated status, eroding their socioeconomic and political opportunities and distorting their relationships with one another. Victor urged women to develop self-awareness and greater knowledge — to “investigate for themselves” — the intertwining roots of oppression in order to promote and achieve equal rights.
Creating New Citizens: The National Council of Jewish Women’s Work at Neighborhood House in Portland, 1896–1912
by Emily Zeien-Stuckman
In 1897, the Portland Section of the National Council of Jewish Women organized Neighborhood House, a settlement house in South Portland used to educate and Americanize immigrants and their children — within and outside the Jewish community — by providing classes and social activities for adults and children. Emily Zeien-Stuckman examines the role of Neighborhood House in the cooperative determination of the established Jews to care for and guide more recent immigrants to Portland at the turn of the century, and describes the divisions within the American Jewish community that developed around the same time period. The article addresses the changing roles of educated women in Portland’s Jewish community by examining their Progressive reform efforts through their settlement house work, the formation of clubs and organization, and their commitment to municipal housekeeping.
Asian Women: Immigration and Citizenship in Oregon
by Peggy Nagae
The influx of male Asian immigrants to Oregon beginning in the 1850s was encouraged by railroad, mining, and land developers looking for cheap labor. As immigrants settled more permanently in the region, however, anti-Asian sentiment took the form of exclusionary legislation and bureaucratic oppression, effectively denying first- and second-generation Asian residents the basic rights of citizenship. The effects of this repression were particularly devastating for Asian women, who were forced to negotiate the sexual bias and discrimination of their adopted home. Peggy Nagae examines how first- and second-generation Asian women in Oregon endured the stigma of sexual immorality during the anti-prostitution campaign by the state, the extraordinary lengths they went to in order to establish legitimacy in their marriages and residency statuses, and the legal battles they fought to gain rights as citizens of the United States..
by Janice Dilg
In this detailed description of the U.S. District Court of Oregon Historical Society Oral History Collection, Janice Dilg offers a glimpse into the remarkable professional achievements in law by Oregon women. By outlining the decades of legal inequities directed toward women — and the organized activism they employed to dismantle those inequities — Dilg places women’s personal stories preserved in the collection within their historical context. Excerpts from interviews with women such as Norma Paulus, Mercedes Deiz, Helen Frye, and Kristine Olson not only provide insight into the particular obstacles women have faced in the male-dominated legal profession but also reveal the value of the oral history collection to further our understanding of the effect women have had on Oregon’s legal and legislative landscape.
The Straight State of Oregon: Notes Toward Queering the History of the Past Century
by Jacqueline Dirks
Jacqueline Dirks’s review of Margot Canady’s The Straight State: Sexuality and Citizenship in Twentieth Century America describes the comprehensive institutional manipulation by state and federal governments to control or “contain” the country’s homosexual populations. The bureaucratic effort to define and reward sexual conformity, among other methods, took the form of restrictive immigration policy, intrusive regulation of military enlistment and benefits distribution, and extreme punitive measures, including forced sterilization and castration. By privileging marriage and children within its bureaucratic functions and policies, the government effectively marginalized the rights of gays and lesbians into “anti-citizens,” denying them basic citizenship — a practice that continues today. Dirks expands on Canady’s premise and describes ways Oregon state laws and practices have both enforced and countered the national “straight state.”
Multilayered Loyalties: Oregon Indian Women as Citizens of the Land, Their Tribal Nations, and the United States
by Kay Reid
Because of the complex legal relationships between the U.S. government and sovereign Indian tribes, “citizenship” has multiple meanings for Native Americans who feel bound to their tribes, their ancestral land, and the United States. In order to protect their legal and historical rights to all three, Native Americans have advocated through the legislative system, and women have often taken the lead. Kay Reid describes the efforts of tribal leaders such as Delores Pigsley, Kathryn Harrison, N. Kathryn “Kat” Brigham, and many others in the tribal restoration process and the protection of tribal land and resources. Reid is a main contributor to the Institute for Tribal Government (PSU) “Great Tribal Leaders of Modern Times” oral history project, and she uses excerpts from her interviews to illustrate the dedicated contributions Native American women have made to their intertwined communities.
“The Noble Representative Woman from Oregon”: Dr. Mary Anna Cooke Thompson
by Jean M. Ward
Dr. Mary Anna Cooke Thompson — Portland’s first woman physician — was a leader in Oregon’s first generation of women’s rights activists. As a committed temperance and prohibition advocate, Thompson often clashed with Abigail Scott Duniway and, along with Dr. Bethenia Owens-Adair, challenged Duniway’s leadership of the Oregon Woman Suffrage Association. In January of 1878, during a nine-month journey to the East Coast, Thompson participated in the National Woman Suffrage Association Convention, at Washington, D.C., and was one of thirteen women, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton, to address the Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections in support of Senator A.A. Sargent’s historic introduction of a woman suffrage amendment. Thompson’s speech — reproduced in its entirety here — underscored her belief in the moral superiority of woman and woman’s ability, if given the ballot, to stem the growing tide of vice and corruption. Thompson also lobbied Pres. Rutherford B. Hayes, lectured on a variety of reform topics, and met with pioneer suffragists such as Lucretia Mott and Lucy Stone.
The Lucy Davis Phillips Collection: Finding the Lost Women Graduates of Oregon’s Medical Schools
by Karen Lea Anderson Peterson
When the University of Oregon Medical School (UOMS) was asked in 1925 to provide a record of woman graduates for a national study, the school’s long-time registrar, Lucy Davis, was determined to be thorough. For twelve years, Davis meticulously documented the careers of women medical students at UOMS, well beyond the original research request. The culmination of her work — now held by the Oregon Health Sciences University Historical Collections & Archives — is a scrapbook of biographical information, photographs, and letters from former students relating their experiences as medical professionals in a field dominated by men. Archivist Karen Peterson describes the valuable research materials included in Davis’s collection, provides insight into the history of Oregon women in medicine, and gives credit to the woman who made sure their history would be available and accessible to future researchers.
Latinas and Citizenship in Oregon
by Marcela Mendoza
Marcela Mendoza considers the relationship between family and citizenship in Oregon’s Latino community, particularly by looking at how women’s work both maintains the continuity of cultural heritage and facilitates settlement into new communities. Drawing on the work of other scholars and her own experience with recent immigrants, Mendoza makes suggestions about how historians may investigate the history of Latina women and citizenship in Oregon.
Equality, Politics, and Separatism: The Papers of Oregon Feminists in the University of Oregon Libraries
by Linda Long
The University of Oregon Libraries houses extensive manuscript collections that document the history of women in Oregon. This article describes three such groupings of collections and examines how the collections relate to the fight for equal rights and citizenship for women in Oregon: the collection of materials from Abigail Scott Duniway, Oregon’s leading suffragist for over four decades; the Oregon Women’s Political History collection, documenting later-twentieth-century women’s political work; and the lesbian land community collections, which document women’s work to build separatist communities in Oregon.
Women of the Oregon Multicultural Archives
by Natalia Fernández and Tiah Edmunson-Morton
The Oregon Multicultural Archives (OMA) at Oregon State University (OSU) is dedicated to preserving and making accessible the histories of traditionally under-represented groups. OMA curator Natalia Fernández and Tiah Edmunson-Morton, the OSU Libraries’ Instruction and Outreach Archivist, highlight three OMA collections that reflect the impact women of color have had in the state of Oregon: the Annabelle Jaramillo Papers (1967–2001), the Jean Moule Papers (1984–2011), and the Urban League of Portland Records (1945–2008). The authors describe the contents of the collections and suggest research opportunities as well as introduce the women documented in the collections, including Jaramillo, Moule, and Freddye Petett and Alta Corbett-Smith, leaders within the Urban League of Portland.
Women and Oregon Political History: The Research and Writing of Up the Capitol Steps
by Jessica Tollestrup
Gov. Barbara Roberts’s autobiography, Up the Capitol Steps, details her experiences campaigning and serving in various levels of Oregon government, including her tenure as a state representative in the Oregon Legislature (1980–1984), secretary of state (1985–1990), and as the state’s first woman governor (1991–1995). Political scientist Jessica Tollestrup, who assisted with research for the book, analyzes Roberts’s account of the structural, cultural, and institutional challenges she encountered when seeking public office. Tollestrup concludes that the book provides valuable documentation of the barriers to women’s entrance into the political sphere as well as insight into the effect women officeholders have on policy processes and outcomes. Tollestrup also provides detailed descriptions of the archival resources — including the Oregon State Archives and the Oregon Political Leadership Archive at Portland State University — that allowed Roberts to document her autobiography so thoroughly.
Chronicling Women’s History at the Oregon State Archives
by Austin Schulz and Mary Beth Herkert
This article provides some examples of records held by the Oregon State Archives that demonstrate how Oregon women worked to gain support for their right to own property, to achieve equal suffrage, and to become major players in Oregon government. Records such as petitions to the Provisional and Territorial governments, women’s separate property registers, widow’s pensions, and proclamations document the efforts made by women to obtain equal rights to property and suffrage. Once women had the vote, they worked to expand their rights by working within the system. Those next steps are documented in the records of state commissions such as the Commission on Women and with administrative records from women who rose to the ranks of agency director, secretary of state, and governor.