I freely admit that I put Serakh out of my mind, although I did remember my promise about the prayer shawl. So much happened in 1917, and most of it I’d rather forget. The one bright spot was Jeannette Rankin, so I’ll start there.

In March of that year, when President Wilson was starting his second term, Jeannette was sworn in as the first woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Mim was ecstatic. Ephraim stayed home with Paul, so she and I about two dozen of our friends celebrated another victory for women. You know, some women still couldn’t vote in this country then—Wilson should have done so much more for us. But that’s water under the bridge now. And we had such a fine luncheon. Blue-ribbon trout and big sky apple pie.

By 1917 the Great War was raging full force in Europe, threatening to draw is in. […]

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What was Edna Kearns doing on June 27, 1913?

Today I turn the blog over to the Suffrage Wagon News Channel and to the story of Edna Kearns, grandmother extraordinaire. Women have achieved voting rights in the United States, and in many–but not all–parts of the world. We humans have a ways to go in achieving dignity, sustenance, and equality of opportunity for all. Still, here’s to you, Edna. […]

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Horse racing was in the news this past weekend, when Palace Malice, who finished 12th in the Kentucky Derby, beat out favorites and won the Belmont Stakes. Almost exactly a century ago, suffragist Emily Wilding Davison attended Epsom Derby, the most prestigious race in Great Britain. Toward the end of the race, she stepped in front of the horse owned by King George V. In an instant, she was trampled by the horse and died of her injuries four days later on June 8, 1913.

What was Emily Davison doing? A member of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), she was an ardent support of a woman’s right to vote. She had been imprisoned several time for violent protests. At Epsom Derby, she appears to have tried to put a suffrage banner on the bridle of the moving horse. Some say Davison had intended to sacrifice her life. Others say she had meant only to disrupt the race and then visit her sister in France. […]

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There are many women whose lives inspire us, and Women’s History Month gives us a chance learn about them. I’d also like to remind folks of a man who contributed much to supporting women as equal members of society. His name was Harry Lane. He was an ardent suffragist during the time of Blue Thread, and the day that Oregon voters passed the suffrage amendment in the state they also elected Lane to the U.S. Senate.

The biography you’ll see here was written by Kimberly Jensen for The Oregon Encyclopedia, an excellent online resource. Kimberly Jensen is an inspirational woman in her own right. A professor of History and Gender Studies at Western Oregon University, she’s the author of Oregon’s Doctor to the World: Esther Pohl Lovejoy and a Life in Activism (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2012), Mobilizing Minerva: American Women in the First World War (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2008) and, with Erika Kuhlman, co-editor of Women and Transnational Activism in Historical Perspective (Leiden: Republic of Letters, 2010). […]

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Here, cribbed in its entirety, is an article from Willamette University. You still have time to see this play. Go for it!

WU Theatre Presents “Brightly Dawning Day” in February

The battle for women’s voting rights in Oregon was hard-fought and hard-won, taking place in parlors, public squares and print media.

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in Oregon, Willamette University Theatre presents “Brightly Dawning Day,” opening Feb. 15 at Willamette’s Pelton Theatre.

“This is a group-written and composed romp through suffragist songs, speeches and poems of the period,” says director Jon Cole. “It centers on Abigail Scott Duniway’s life, viewed through a contemporary lens,”

The production was inspired by English professor Mike Chasar, who brought a collection of suffragist poems to the theatre department with the idea of making a new play from it, Cole says. After reading the poems, Cole and others were motivated to create an original ensemble play about the struggle for suffrage in Oregon. […]

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Thanks to the meticulous savers at the Library of Congress, I can bring you this cover of Puck magazine from December 27, 1911. The caption reads: “LOOK WHO’S HERE!” Father Time is ushering out 1911, who appears to be startled, aghast, and amazed at the new year 1912. Instead of the usual chubby baby boy (for the literary-minded a “putto”) 1911 sees a tiny woman in hat, furs, and a sign that reads:

Happy New Year Votes for Women

Now it’s 2013, a year and a century later. Oregon women did get the right to vote in 1912, as I’m sure you know if you are reading this blog. Many other women did not. A lot has changed since Louis Glackens drew this illustration. A lot has not. Let’s take a look at 2013 and resolve to make a change for the better!


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Clara Munson; OHS photo 012974

This isn’t a centennial celebration, but almost. On December 18, 1913, the residents of Warrenton, Oregon, a small town near the northwest tip of the state, chose Clara Cynthia Munson to be their next mayor. Someone had nominated her earlier that year, and a Mr. Dietrich decided to run as well, to protect the good citizens of Warrenton from a woman calling the shots. The finally tally: Munson, 38; Dietrich, 22. Clara Munson (1861-1938) grew up in the lighthouses her father managed. Born in Oysterville, Washington, she studied teaching in Portland and moved to Warrenton in 1900. Munson served as a school clerk and in the post office. According to the on-line Oregon History Project,

Interestingly, she stated soon after her election that she was ‘not very much in favor of woman suffrage,’ but since women had gained the vote the previous year, it was their responsibility to ‘take an active interest in political affairs and show they are able to make good use of a ballot.’”

The Oregonian had this to report in an article on December 20, 1913:

Once mayor, Munson abolished the positions of police chief and city attorney, and used their salaries to improve Warrenton’s infrastructure, including sidewalks. […]

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Duniway (seated), Gov. West, and Viola Coe

One hundred years ago today, Oregon Governor Oswald West issued the proclamation giving women the right to vote. Abigail Scott Duniway had the well deserved honor of drafting the document, which you see here, both transcribed courtesy of Oregon State Archives and in her handwriting.

Proclamation State of Oregon–Executive Department, Salem, Oregon, November 30, 1912 Whereas: The women of Oregon, after long and patient effort, have persuaded the men of the State to place them upon a footing of political equality by granting to them the right of suffrage through an amendment to Section 2 of Article 11 of the Constitution of the State; and, Whereas: Pursuant to the provisions of law, the Secretary of State of the State of Oregon in the presence of the Governor of the State of Oregon, did on the 29th day of November 1912 canvass the official election returns for the general election held in the State of Oregon on Tuesday, the fifth day of November, 1912; and, Whereas: It appears from the said official canvass that the following measure has been approved by a majority of the electors of the State of Oregon who voted therein: “Section 2 of Article 11” of the Constitution of the State of Oregon shall be and hereby is amended to read as follows: “Section 2. […]

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British suffrage poster, 1909

On November 26, 1912, suffragists in Oregon were still celebrating women’s right to vote. Abigail Scott Duniway was drafting the proclamation suffrage proclamation that Governor Oswald West would officially sign on November 30. But November 26 was a disappointment to the women of Bow and Bromley.

Both Bow and Bromley were relatively small voting districts in London, England. Combined they elected one member to the British House of Commons (roughly equivalent to a Congressman—there were no Congresswomen back then–to the U.S. House of Representatives).

The men of Bow and Bromley voted on November 26 in a by-election—what in the States is called a special election—to fill a vacancy. The contest was between George Landsbury, a Labour Party politician who strongly favored woman suffrage, and Reginald Blair, a Conservative Party politician supported the National League for Opposing Woman Suffrage. The Labour Party did not officially back Landsbury, but neither did the party offer another candidate. […]

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The woman suffrage campaign in Blue Thread plays out against the broader backdrop of the presidential campaign nationally.  Unlike the 2012 campaign between two major candidates—Barack Obama and Mitt Romney—the 1912 had three major candidates. Democrat Woodrow Wilson (then governor of New Jersey) and Progressive Theodore Roosevelt (TR) challenged Republican president William Howard Taft. Some activists in the woman suffrage campaign made their views heard. Maud Malone (shown here standing) was definitely one of them.

Here’s what Jo Freeman of the University of Illinois at Chicago has to say about Maud Malone, who livened up the campaign in New York City.

While NAWSA [National American Woman Suffrage Association] officers stayed out of the partisan fray, not all suffragists stayed away from the candidates. Maud Malone made it a point to go to every speech given by a presidential candidate in New York City and yell out “What about woman suffrage?” from the audience. […]

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