This month, for Women’s History Month, we would like to highlight some of the history that can be found in the newspapers available on the Historic Oregon Newspapers website. There is plenty of news to be found, both related to individual historical figures as well as larger movements or events related to women in Oregon. Perhaps one of the more fascinating things to read about is the history of women’s suffrage in Oregon. Before women had the right to vote on a national level, Oregon allowed women to vote in state elections starting in 1912. You can read more about this part of our past in this previous blog post: Oregon Women’s Suffrage Centennial.
One particular figure from this movement crops up quite a bit: Abigail Scott Duniway. She was an early advocate for women’s rights, as well as publisher for the newspaper The New Northwest. From 1871 to 1887, this newspaper was dedicated to women’s rights and issues, particularly the right to vote. It was an early proponent for women’s suffrage and one of the movement’s most vocal supporters. Looking through issues of the newspaper allows for a glimpse of the evolution of this movement during that time period.
Other newspapers also provide a peek at the lives of women in Oregon and across the country in the 1800s and early 1900s. For example, The Oregon Scout from Union occasionally featured a column called “Woman’s World,” which highlighted various areas of women’s life during that era. Some would focus on domestic life, giving an idea of what life was like at home for many women. Others would discuss the growing career opportunities available to women. Some of these stories were pulled from newspapers elsewhere, providing a glimpse at life not just in Oregon, but in the rest of the United States as well.
For those interested in using some of these newspaper materials in K-12 classroom lessons, check out our lesson plan on Abigail Scott Duniway and Women’s Suffrage, which is tailored to Oregon Common Core state standards. All of our historic newspapers on the website can also be browsed and searched by keyword thanks to optical character recognition (OCR), allowing for easy research for those who want to learn more about women’s history in Oregon. In addition, content can be downloaded as a PDF or JPEG file and saved for future reference or research purposes. All of these services are free and open to the public, so don’t wait and take a look at Oregon’s historic newspapers today!