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Monday, August 30, 2010

Portland Market Inspection Crowd Cheers Woods Hutchinson, M.D., April 1905

More nuggets from the Portland women’s 1905 campaign for market inspection and a female market inspector.

At an April 14 meeting of pure food activists working for market inspection in Portland Dr. Woods Hutchinson, who had recently resigned as secretary and health officer from the Oregon State Board of Health, “happened in.” He got cheers from the crowd when he confessed that he had changed his mind about women and civic power: “while I have never favored women’s suffrage,” he said, “when I see a movement of this kind I confess that I wish the women had the power of the ballot as well as the power of public opinion.” And, referring to the Portland health board’s Mae Cardwell, M.D. he said, “The best man on the board of health today is a woman.” (I think he meant this as a compliment!)

The assembly decided to “‘stick to the fight’ until it was won” and “the suggestion was here made that one of the deputies of the inspector [they still hoped for a large staff] be a woman. This was moved and carried unanimously.”

The Portland market inspection campaign apparently transformed Hutchinson’s thinking and he became a supporter of woman suffrage and women’s health activism. A woman, “may educate herself as she will, may dress as she pleases, may preach, vote, practice medicine,” he wrote in 1914. “Any sanitarian or public-health officer of experience will cheerfully testify that the strongest force in the community for the protection of the public health is the influence and work of the women” including the “at one time much scoffed at” women’s clubs. “Why on earth woman should not be given exactly the same voice as man in determining how the food, water, and other vital interests of her children should be kept pure and wholesome, and in personally seeing that they are so kept, is a question to which . . . there is  no answer!” Woods Hutchinson, Civilization and Health (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1914).

British-born Woods Hutchinson (1862-1930) received his medical degree from the  University of Michigan Medical Department in 1884, taught anatomy at the University of Iowa from 1891-1896 and pathology at the  University of Buffalo from 1896-1900 before coming to Portland, where he served as the secretary of the newly established state health board and state health officer from 1903 until 1905. He left Portland and for many years was on the faculty of the New York Polyclinic. He gained great notoriety as a lecturer and writer on public health issues and published over a dozen books before his death in 1930. 

And it appears that his brief association with the market inspection campaign in Portland made him a woman suffragist.


“Women in Earnest,” Oregon Journal, April 14, 1905, 1, 8 (quotes and image from 8)

Herman W. Knox, ed. Who’s Who in New York 7th ed. (New York: Who’s Who, 1917), s.v. Hutchinson, Woods, 564.

“Dr. Woods Hutchinson,” New York Times, April 27, 1930, 29.

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