Oregon Woman Suffrage History Month to Month

July 1912 Portlanders Screen the film Votes for Women starring Anna Howard Shaw and Jane Addams

“Motion Pictures Plea for Equal Suffrage,” Oregon Journal, July 17, 1912, 5.

July 17-19, 1912 Suffrage Film Votes for Women at the Star Theater in Portland

By July 1912 workers across Oregon were active in the final campaign for woman suffrage that would result in victory in the November election. Oregon suffragists were building their campaign by using mass media and advertising techniques to get their message across to voters in early twentieth-century consumer culture.

The Portland Equal Suffrage League sponsored a three-day engagement for the film Votes for Women at the Star Theater in Portland. The film featured the story of a fiancée of a state senator opposed to the movement “whose signature alone is needed to put through equal suffrage legislation.” She “becomes an ardent suffragist” and, along with suffrage workers, convinces the senator to vote for the bill. Filmmakers blended this fictional account with appearances by national suffrage leaders Anna Howard Shaw and Jane Addams, real-life “equal suffrage slogans and banners” and footage of a New York City suffrage parade.

The use of films like Votes for Women helped to create the modern suffrage movement and brought success to campaigns in states like Oregon that used mass media to put their message across. 

—Kimberly Jensen

Motion Pictures

Margaret Finnegan, Selling Suffrage: Consumer Culture and Votes for Women (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999)

Kimberly Jensen, “‘Neither Head nor Tail to the Campaign’: Esther Pohl Lovejoy and the Oregon Woman Suffrage Victory of 1912,” Oregon Historical Quarterly 108:3 (Fall 2007): 350-383.

Rebecca Mead, How the Vote Was Won: Woman Suffrage in the Western United States, 1868-1914 (New York: New York University Press, 2004)

“Motion Pictures Plea for Equal Suffrage,” Oregon Journal, July 17, 1912, 5.


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Posted by history class on 07/06 at 08:53 PM

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