August 1912: Noon Meetings in Portland Spread Suffrage Message to Workingmen
One of the reasons that Oregon suffragists achieved victory in 1912 is that they tailored their message for various groups of male voters across the state. Members of the Portland Branch of the College Equal Suffrage League not only tailored their message for men who worked in shops and factories. They also took the suffrage message directly to the places where men worked and at a time convenient for them to listen. Working men might not be able to attend evening meetings on suffrage topics; noon meetings at their own shops during lunch hour were a great way to reach them.
“Suffragettes Talk to Steel Workers,” Oregon Journal, August 8, 1912, 10.
The Oregon Journal reported on August 8, 1912 that Sara Bard Field Ehrgott, Emma Wold, Mrs. J. W. Poince and Miss Herman spoke at the Williamette Steel and Iron Works plant that day and that College League speakers had covered “practically all of the larger shops and factories in the northwestern section of the city” at similar meetings. League members had plans to meet with working men in other locations. The speakers were “enthusiastic over the attention being given them by employes of the big shops.”
Getting the suffrage message out to as many male voters as possible was crucial. College Equal Suffrage League members went directly to the shop floors and asked workingmen to listen to their arguments as they ate their sandwiches at noon hour. Perhaps it was not only the message, but the women’s willingness to make the trip, that made these noon meetings so effective.
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