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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Esther Pohl Declines School Director Candidacy at the Beginning of the 1912 Suffrage Campaign

As a member of the Portland Woman's Club Esther Pohl was at the center of the group's strategies for success in the 1912 votes for women campaign from the very beginning of the year. Thanks to the Portland Woman's Club Records held at the Oregon Historical Society Research Library we can learn all about her activities.

The women looked ahead not only to the November 5, 1912 statewide ballot but for opportunities to build women's civic credentials along the way, including women as candidates for office. Voters in June 1912 would choose a new director of the Portland school board and the club members resolved, unanimously, that Esther Pohl was their choice for the position. Pohl had served as Portland City Health Officer from 1907 to 1909 and had important experience and preparation for the post.

At the January 12, 1912 meeting of the Portland Woman's Club Grace Watt Ross "offered the following resolution:
Whereas, our neighboring states, Washington, California, Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah have adopted a republican form of Gov. where all people vote; and Oregon is the only remaining state, bordering the Pacific where women have not been enfranchised Be it resolved that the P.W.C. petition the men of Oregon, to grant 'Votes for Women' at the next election and ---Be it resolved that the P.W.C. direct its work during the remaining months before the election, toward this end, that all Oregon women may gain the power of the ballot."
The group adopted the resolution and another one to appoint a committee to begin the work.

Then "Dr. Esther Pohl recommended the withdrawal of the candidate for school director from the field.  In view of Mrs. Ross's resolution she fears it will create enemies and cause us to lose in our campaign for 'Votes for women.'" Sarah A. Evans moved to accept Pohl's recommendation and the motion carried.

Pohl, it appears, worried that another campaign would distract male voters from the votes for women movement in the state and even "create enemies and cause us to lose." In this sixth attempt at placing the question before male voters in Oregon she urged her colleagues to remain focused on one goal at a time.


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