Oregon Woman Suffrage History Month to Month

November 1911: Southern Oregon’s E.W. Cooper and Wife Want Daughter to Vote

Much of the history of the campaign for votes for women in the state relates to the work of organizations, clubs and associations. But the case of E.W. Cooper and his wife, who lived in Sam’s Valley in Southern Oregon’s Jackson County, provides an example of two individuals taking action to promote woman suffrage.

They would leave the state, they said, if their new daughter could not cast a ballot in Oregon when she reached voting age.

“Proud in the possessions of a baby which his wife presented him recently,” the Medford Mail Tribune reported on November 17, 1911, Colonel E.W. Cooper of Sam’s Valley today went before a notary public and affixed his seal in an instrument in which he and his wife agree to leave Oregon unless the state has granted woman suffrage by the time their baby daughter has reached her majority.

“The document further declares that Cooper is a socialist and his wife an enthusiastic suffragette and that they will seek their home in a state in which equal suffrage obtains.”

Cooper Suffrage

“Cooper Wants Girl to Vote,” Medford Mail Tribune, November 17, 1911, 1.

As Rebecca Mead demonstrates in How the Vote Was Won: Woman Suffrage in the Western United States, 1868-1914 (New York: New York University Press, 2004) many members of the Socialist, Progressive and Populist parties embraced woman suffrage as part of their reform vision.

E.W. Cooper and his wife evidently fit this pattern. And they took this innovative step to publicize their commitment to the suffrage cause.

—Kimberly Jensen

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Posted by history class on 11/01 at 07:38 AM

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