Oregon Woman Suffrage History Month to Month

April 1911: Sarah Evans Reports on Yamhill Teacher Dorothy Hull’s Address on Woman Suffrage

In April 1911 Sarah Evans reported on a recent meeting of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union of Yamhill County held in Newberg, Oregon. Evans’s Sunday “Women’s Clubs” column in the Oregon Journal connected activists with one another. And her column preserves important suffrage history for us today.

Members of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union were strong supporters of votes for women in Oregon and the nation. They saw the ballot as a tool to achieve temperance or the prohibition of alcohol through legislative means.

One of the speakers at the Yamhill County W.C.T.U. meeting was Newberg teacher Dorothy Hull. In her address on the franchise for women Hull insisted that present laws regulating industy “have not been satisfactory, because they have not been secured through the direct agency of those most immediately concerned, the workingwomen.” For Hull, women workers needed the vote to make laws that regulated industry.

Hull believed that the ballot was “needed by women of every class. Women must obey laws which they have no share in making and pay taxes to support a government in which they have no representation and whose policies they cannot influence, except by the most indirect methods. We hear much of the ‘silent influence’ of women, but if their influence is worth anything for good, why should they not exercise it directly through the natural channel of the ballot box.?”

She also expressed the view that women’s “sphere” was actually the world. “What is the state but an aggregate of homes?” she asked. And women should be considered full citizens. “Think of the folly of holding as aliens to the state the mothers and teachers who must train the child for citizenship! Our children will be worth more to the community when trained from childhood by both father and mother to taken an intelligent interest in the affairs of state.”

Like many activists of her day, Hull believed that women would bring a particular perspective to civic affairs. They would help to end “immorality” by removing the “causes of its power, poverty, uncleanliness, unsanitary homes” and would promote peace.

“Every woman who believes that she could do a work for good government with the ballot should work to secure it,” Hull concluded. “Let us hope that the future may show man and woman going forth to the battle of justice against injustice, virtue against vice, hand in hand; his mission to secure the maintenance, progress, and defense of the state, hers to secure its order, comfort and loveliness.”

Evans reported that Hull was a “teacher of the city [Newberg] schools, and scarcely more than a girl” but she “gave an address on the franchise for women that would have done credit to a mature and experienced speaker.”

Hull was evidently an historian. She later published “The Movement in Oregon for the Establishment of a Pacific Coast Republic” in the Oregon Historical Quarterly 17 no. 3 (September 1916).

Evans OJ April 9 1911 5:7 part 1
Evans OJ April 9 1911 5:7 part 2

Sarah A. Evans, “Women’s Clubs,” Oregon Journal, April 9, 1911, 5:7.
—Kimberly Jensen

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Posted by history class on 03/31 at 06:10 PM

March 1911: The End of the 1911 Legislative Session and Next Steps for Woman Suffrage in Oregon

By December 1910 Oregon suffragists had had collected enough signatures by the initiative petition process to place the measure on the November 5, 1912 ballot. Suffragists requested that the Oregon legislature, meeting in January and February 1911, give its support to the equal suffrage ballot measure. Legislators passed Senate Joint Resolution 12 on February 17, 1911.

In March suffragists would begin the sixth campaign for votes for women in the state. Activist Sarah A. Evans had this in mind as she reviewed the lessons of the legislative session in her weekly Women’s Clubs column for the Oregon Journal (February 26, 1911, 5:7). Washington women had achieved the vote in 1910 and were using it; Oregon activists looked to November 1912 as the year of victory.

Evans counted several gains. One was legislation establishing the Oregon State Board of Nursing and another was the end to Oregon’s controversial whipping post law for men convicted of domestic violence. But for Evans, the recent legislative session provided a strong lesson about the need for woman suffrage.

The “strongest body of women lobbyists that ever went to the legislature,” she wrote, failed to convince the Oregon legislature to pass a statewide pure milk law. Portland women, led by Esther Pohl, Evans and a coalition of activists, had passed several progressively stronger city ordinances for pure milk. In 1911 they hoped to remove state Dairy and Food Commissioner J.W. Bailey and pass a statewide bill. Governor Oswald West asked the legislature to investigate and women testified before a joint house and senate committee. The failure of this bill, for Evans, proved that women without the vote, even though working actively in the political process through coalition building and lobbying, could not hope to effect political, social and economic change in a significant way.

“Influence,” she wrote, “only reaches to the narrow confines of one home each, and sometimes not that far.” Suffrage supporters like Esther Pohl Lovejoy joined Evans in calling for the vote to achieve what “influence” could not.

Evans also provided a perspective on what lobbying was like for women in 1911 before the achievement of woman suffrage. “No woman enjoys lobbying: she is met with cold indifference, distrust and often jeers and jokes; she feels herself out of place and she is as long as she holds an inferior place among those she is trying to influence, and it is only the brave and courageous who will dare this for a just cause.” Oregon women, she wrote, were “wrestling with the legislature.”

She contrasted this with the recent action by newly enfranchised Seattle women to recall Mayor Hiram Gill, whom they felt was not addressing gambling and prostitution in the city. Seattle women, she wrote, “did not have to rush to Olympia by an early train, remain away from their families several days, face a jibing crowd of political corruptionists, and plead their case before an unbelieving committee” as Oregon women had just done in Salem. They went to the polls and voted.

For Evans “this is the greatest lesson the legislature left the women of Oregon to ponder on.”
Evans on Lobbying

Sarah A. Evans, “Women’s Clubs,” Oregon Journal, February 26, 1911, 5:7

—Kimberly Jensen

Further Reading:

David Peterson Del Mar, “His Face is Weak and Sensual”: Portland and the Whipping Post Law,” in Women in Pacific Northwest History ed. Karen J. Blair, rev. ed. (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1988): 59-89.)

John C. Putnam, Class and Gender Politics in Progressive-Era Seattle (Reno: University of Nevada Press, 2008

Shanna Stevenson, Women’s Votes, Women’s Voices: The Campaign for Equal Rights in Washington (Tacoma: Washington State Historical Society, 2009)


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Posted by history class on 03/06 at 04:00 PM

Oregon Legislature Signs Senate Joint Resolution 12 Supporting Votes for Women Feb. 17, 1911

On February 17, Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives John Rusk and President of the Oregon Senate Ben Selling signed Senate Joint Resolution 12:

“Be it resolved by the Senate, the House concurring:

That we have carefully considered the Equal Suffrage Amendment, as submitted by initiative petition to the present legal voters of the State, for their adoption or rejection, and can see no reasonable objection to its adoption, and we cordially recommend its ratification at the November election of 1912.”

Members of the Oregon State Equal Suffrage Association had collected enough signatures through initiative petition by December 1910 to place the measure on the November 5, 1912 ballot. Now by February 17, 1911 with SJR12 the Oregon state legislature lent its support to votes for women in the state. 

FEBRUARY 17, 1911

Friday, February 17, 1911, Morning Session, Oregon House of Representatives


Salem, February 17, 1911

Mr. Speaker: I am directed by the President to transmit enrolled Senate Joint Resolution No. 12 for your signature.
E.H. Flagg, Chief Clerk

The Speaker [John P. Rusk] announced that he was about to sign Senate Joint Resolution No. 12, and subsequently announced that he had signed the same.

Journal of the House of the Twenty-sixth Legislative Assembly of the State of Oregon, Regular Session, 1911 (Salem: Oregon State Printer, 1911), 774.

Friday, February 17, 1911, Afternoon Session, Oregon Senate

The President [Ben Selling] announced that he was about to sign Senate Joint Resolution No. 12…and subsequently that he had signed the same.

Journal of the Senate of the Twenty-sixth Legislative Assembly of the State of Oregon, Regular Session 1911 (Salem: Oregon State Printer, 1911), 655.

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Posted by history class on 02/20 at 01:16 PM

January 1911: The Oregon State Equal Suffrage Association Asks Legislature for Vote of Approval

In her “Women’s Clubs” column for February 19, 1911, 5:7 in the Oregon Journal, Sarah Evans recounted the following meeting of the executive committee of the Oregon State Equal Suffrage Association:

The executive committee of the Oregon State Equal Suffrage Association, at its meeting on the 31st day of January, held under approval of Mrs. Emma Smith DeVoe, president of the National Council of Women Voters, passed, by unanimous vote, the following appeal to the Legislative Assembly of Oregon, with a request that Mrs. Abigail Scott Duniway, the venerable president of the state association, and mother of the equal suffrage movement in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, should present, in person, as a joint memorial to that honorable body.

Mrs. Duniway, in accepting the trust, said, in a voice husky with emotion, “My years are passing, but I shall take pleasure in presenting the memorial, and sincerely hope it will be the last appeal I shall ever be compelled to make to the sons of women for equal rights before the law for the mothers and daughters of men.”

The petition read as follows:

To the Honorable Body, the Legislative Assembly of the State of Oregon:

        Gentlemen: Whereas, The agitation of the equal suffrage movement, which began in Old Oregon, in 1871, and has long been an established part of the state constitutions of Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and Idaho, and was adopted by an overwhelming vote of men at the late general election in the State of Washington; and

        Whereas, California has caught the inspiration of the movement, and has passed, by its Legislative Assembly, a resolution for a referendum vote on an equal suffrage amendment, to be taken at the election of 1912, with no reasonable doubt of its ratification by a majority of the present electorate; and

        Whereas, Montana is pressing close upon California, with a similar amendment; and

        Whereas, The Equal Suffrage Association of Oregon with over forty thousand (40,000) women adherents, and a recorded vote of over thirty-six thousand (36,000) of the electorate at the past general elections; and

        Whereas, The Equal Suffrage Association has not on file, in the office of the Secretary of State an initiative petition, for a vote for an equal suffrage amendment at the general election of 1912, and

        Whereas, This agitation can never cease until the men of Oregon have crowned our efforts with victory; therefore

        Resolved, That we respectfully request your honorable body to adopt a joint resolution, approving our proposed amendment which is herewith appended.

Sarah Evans,

Sarah Evans,

Sarah Evans, “Women’s Clubs,” Oregon Journal, February 19, 1911, 5:7.

—Kimberly Jensen

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Posted by history class on 01/06 at 04:25 PM

December 1910: Oregon Suffragists Submit Initiative Petition for the Final Campaign

Abigail Scott Duniway filed a petition with the Secretary of State with sufficient signatures to place the woman suffrage question on the ballot for the sixth time in November 1912. This was almost two years in advance of the election day in question and well before the deadline.

As the Oregon Journal phrased it, suffragists took time by the “forelock” to get a jump start on the campaign.

Suffragists Take Time by Forelock

“Suffragists Take Time by Forelock,” Oregon Journal, December 21, 19120, 14.

—Kimberly Jensen

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Posted by history class on 12/06 at 04:38 PM

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