Oregon 100 years ago was the seventh state to pass a women’s suffrage amendment, a movement led by Abigail Scott Duniway, an Oregon Trail pioneer and newspaper publisher who also had a brother in the business at The Oregonian – Harvey Scott. An elementary school and and an extinct volcano in Portland are named after Scott and a statue atop another extinct volcano commemorates him. Scott left his position as editor of The Oregonian in 1872, a year after Duniway started her rival paper in Portland to promote women’s suffrage. Duniway faced opposition from her brother, who had later returned to The Oregonian as editor-in-chief. Despite local political and social resistance, consistent failure of women’s suffrage referendums on state ballots, and divisions with Eastern suffrage organizations, Duniway prevailed and she eventually brought women’s voting rights to Oregon. At the request of governor Oswald West, Duniway wrote and signed Oregon’s Equal Suffrage Proclamation on Nov. 30, 1912, and became Multnomah County’s first female registered voter. She and her brother are buried at the same cemetery in Portland. To make the ending even happier, an elementary school and an urban park with a track and a lilac garden are named after Duniway.
On a warm fall Saturday in Portland, the marriage between women’s suffrage in Oregon and the American Archives Month each October bore a successful Oregon Archives Crawl, an annual expo the Portland Area Archivists puts on to educate the public about archives. Participating organizations set up exhibit booths at four research sites in the city: The City of Portland Archives and Records Center; Portland State University Special Collections, Millar Library; Multnomah County Library; Oregon Historical Society Research Library. Crawlers could start at any of those locations and look around and take tours, eat snacks, and pick up a guide to the other locations. Packaged as a “passport,” the guide got stamped at each location and advertised the after-party, thrown Portland-style: At a historic McMenamin’s.
Exhibits of course featured archival materials related to Oregon women’s suffrage, but other items allured just as much with their black-and-white photographs of people in early dress, municipal planning maps, penmanship on yellowed paper, and craft art. Relevant to current events, Pacific University (Harvey Scott graduated from there and another elementary school in its town of Forest Grove is named after him, by the way) displayed election collections, Oregon Health and Science University had from its storage a skull lacking much provenance, and some early cell phones – brick phones – were brought in by the Washington County Museum, which houses the “Silicon Forest” cultural memory of the region’s high-tech industry.
Most relevant to the “Celebrating Women, Celebrating Archives” theme was the actual Oregon’s Equal Suffrage Proclamation document, brought up from the Oregon State Archives in Salem. Most annoying was the use of flash-photography by some crawlers indoors where archival materials were out on tables. Most beneficial for ArchiveGrid and OCLC Research were opportunities to ask participating organizations what they were up to and inform them of ArchiveGrid and what OCLC Research is up to.
Here is a brief photographic record of the event:
Women dressed up as suffragettes at the Oregon Historical Society spoke with archives crawlers (above, below).
A skull in the collections at Oregon Health and Science University engaged archives crawlers.
University of Oregon displayed “Duck” memorabilia. Oregon State University also displayed “Beaver” memorabilia.
City of Portland Archives and Records Center makes jigsaw puzzles out of historical photographs and puts them out for visitors to work. I am a jigsaw puzzle aficionado so I could not resist.
At around noon, the City of Portland Archives and Records Center (above, below) had a full house.
An early stamp machine was used to stamp archives crawl passports.
All four Archives Crawl locations were within walking distance of each other and located along the downtown no-fare mass transit tram line. Trams reminisce early Portland, around the time of local women’s suffrage, when private companies installed elaborate rail systems that ran until they disappeared to make room for automobile traffic.
The historic Multnomah County Library central branch (above) gave rare public tours of its John Wilson Special Collections (below) for the archives crawl.
Terry Baxter with the Multnomah County Records Program talked to crawlers (above) who were greeted by Multnomah County Library staff (below).
No one went unfed, thirsty, and uncaffeinated (again, this is Portland).
Even better than receiving a re-useable grocery sack from Society of American Archivists for starting the archives crawl early with my eager fiancee was getting photographed with the LBB (little blue bag).