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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Roaming through the Internet jungle, I chanced to find this map of Portland area transit lines by graphic designer Cameron Booth:

Cameron writes: “This map…compares the passenger rail network of Portland from three different eras – 1912, 1943, and 2015, when the Portland-Milwaukie MAX light rail line will be completed. In this case, “passenger rail” is defined as streetcar (both old and modern), the once-plentiful interurban trains (a precursor to today’s light rail that once ran down the Willamette Valley as far as Eugene and Corvallis), MAX light rail and long-distance passenger trains (Amtrak and its precursors). Due to the somewhat incomplete nature of what my research uncovered, there may be a few little gaps and errors, but I believe what I show is a good representation of the services offered in each era. Visually, the overlaid routes present a very compelling story. 1912 (white) was the heyday of Portland’s streetcar network and shows a dense, compact and comprehensive service for a city that covered a much smaller area than it does now. […]

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Although winter is breathing down our necks, chances are excellent that spring will come and the rhododendrons will bloom. These flowering shrubs are so popular that they made an appearance in Blue Thread:

‘This part of Johnson is quite lovely,’ Charity said as we crossed the front porch. ‘Your rhododendrons and rose bushes are gorgeous….'”

Portland–the Rose City–is awash in rhodies, too. “Rhododendron” comes from ancient Greek and means “rose tree.” Oregon has several chapters of the American Rhododendron Society; the one in Portland supports the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden  and the Cecil & Molly Smith Garden, both over 50 years old.

The community of Rhododendron, Oregon, near Mount Hood, was named after you know what. So is the old logging area–Rhododendron Village–which lies at the base of treacherous Laurel Hill (the “laurels” there were really rhodies) that killed and maimed many pioneers on the Oregon Trail. I hear the place is haunted, but I wouldn’t dare hike into the area until spring. […]

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On behalf of the characters in Blue Thread, I have the honor of announcing that their story is a finalist for the 2013 Oregon Book Awards. The book is one of three that Literary Arts selected for the Leslie Bradshaw Award for Young Adult Literature. Winners will be announced April 8, but all the finalists will have a chance to meet readers in the Literary Arts tour of Oregon. Will you and I meet? I hope so!

Here’s a shout out to the Oregon Historical Society, the Oregon Jewish Museum, Kimberly Jensen, Ooligan Press, and the Viva Scrivas, for their help with Blue Thread. Yup, gotta say thanks to husband, Michael, too. He’s lived with these characters almost as long as I have. […]

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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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Blue Thread ends during the first part of November, 1912. Had the story gone through Thanksgiving, the Josefsohn family might have dined on goose instead of turkey. Here’s why. According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife,

Wild turkeys are not native to Oregon but were first successfully introduced in 1961. Since then more than 10,000 turkeys have been transplanted to locations all over Oregon.

Merriam's Turkey

Two turkey subspecies have been introduced to Oregon. The Merriam’s wild turkey was the first subspecies released in the state. Live-trapped Merriam’s turkeys were brought to Oregon from Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Nebraska and Montana. The Merriam’s subspecies is native to mountainous woodland habitats from the southwestern United States to Central Colorado. The Merriam’s turkey population in Oregon increased rapidly following initial releases and then stabilized at lower population levels after the initial expansion.

Rio Grande Turkey

The Rio Grande wild turkey was first introduced to southwestern Oregon in 1975. […]

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Decades after the first attempt to give Oregon women the right to vote, the issue once again appeared on the ballot on November 5, 1912. The majority of men who voted in the precinct of Miriam’s family in Blue Thread voted against suffrage for women. But statewide 61,265 men didn’t share Julius Josefsohn’s opinion of women. Here’s the official tally. Yes!


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