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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Esther Lovejoy's 1920 Congressional Campaign and the Fred Lockley Bump

For her 1920 campaign for U.S. Congress from Oregon's Third District Esther Lovejoy drew on the vital lessons she and other woman suffrage activists had learned about the importance of the media and mass campaigning. That fall her campaign received an important publicity bump from journalist and author Fred Lockley.

Lockley's Oregon Journal column “Observations and Impressions of the Journal Man” was a combination of interviews with famous and not-so-famous Oregonians, book reviews, and visits to interesting Oregon places. Lockley featured Lovejoy in his column five times during the general election season. Across these columns Lockley reviewed the House of the Good Neighbor (using the review copy that a media-savvy Lovejoy had sent to him) and with the congressional campaign in mind emphasized her father’s populist politics against the lumber interests in Seabeck. Another installment recounted her struggles as a department store clerk to work her way through the University of Oregon Medical Department and to gain an education under challenging economic circumstances. Lockley also featured her public health activism in Alaska and with the Portland city health department, recounting the story of her son Freddie's death from what she considered tubercular milk and her pure milk crusade. He also wrote a final column on her recent wartime work in France. All contributed to a narrative of Lovejoy's strength, perseverance, experience and competence for office as a people's candidate who had risen from challenging circumstances and would not forget it.

Lockley was conscious of the power of his column and had good insights into Lovejoy's life and work. In the September 25, 1920 installment he wrote: "'Who's Who' doesn't ask how much money you have, but what you have done. It recognizes the aristocracy of intellect rather than of mere money. If you will look in the 1920 edition of 'Who's Who' you will find a brief record of the accomplishments of Dr. Esther Pohl Lovejoy of Portland. Dr. Lovejoy is anxious to have in the next edition an added paragraph to the effect that she is the first woman ever sent to Washington to represent Oregon in Congress. No one has ever accused Dr. Lovejoy of lack of ambition of or loafing on the job. . . ." Such characteristics would make her a good member of congress.

Susan Badger Doyle has a great entry on Lockley in the Oregon Encyclopedia with information on his life and publications, including posthumous collections from his column.

In our own day we are familiar with the Stephen Colbert bump for books, music, organizations and projects. Historians of Oregon medicine know and appreciate the Sara Piasecki bump. Fred Lockley's "Observations and Impressions of the Journal Man" functioned in the same way in early twentieth century Oregon.

Fred Lockley, “Observations and Impressions of the Journal Man,” Oregon Journal  August 8, 1920, 2:2; September 19, 1920, 4:4; September 22, 1920, 6; September 25, 1920, 6; September 27, 1920, 6.

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