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Saturday, January 28, 2012

January 28, 1912 Esther Pohl Meets with Business and Professional Women to Organize Fortnightly Suffrage Forums at Olds, Wortman and King

On January 28, 1912 Esther Clayson Pohl joined other professional and business women to organize suffrage forums to be held twice a month at the auditorium of the Olds, Wortman and King department store in Portland.

From 1890 to 1894 Esther Clayson worked her way through the University of Oregon Medical Department as a sales clerk, part of that time at Olds and King, predecessor to the Olds, Wortman and King store of 1912. Certainly the auditorium was a good venue in terms of its size. But given her support of wage-earning women, it's quite possible that Esther Pohl helped to choose the location so that these twice-monthly meetings would be close and accessible for many working women in the city, certainly for the sales clerks at Olds, Wortman and King.

Dr. Pohl joined other professional women in planning these forums. Professional women and wage-earning women had much to gain from the power of the ballot. And the meeting also indicates that Pohl and other suffragists did not want to work from within just one suffrage organization -- she took steps to be involved in many suffrage groups across different communities to build coalitions. Pohl was a leader of the Portland Woman's Club Suffrage Campaign Committee and worked through club networks for the vote; but she also saw the importance of working with other groups -- here with professional and business women -- to emphasize additional reasons why wage-earning and professional women needed the vote. As we'll see, Pohl worked with many organizations and formed a new suffrage group in the fall of 1912.

The Portland Evening Telegram reported about the meeting this way on January 29, 1912, 7:

"Fortnightly Suffrage Meeting
Business and professional women met Saturday afternoon and decided to hold an open forum in the auditorium of Olds, Wortman & King's store, twice a month, in the interest of the equal suffrage cause.  Among the speakers were: Dr. Esther Pohl, Miss Frances Gottshall, Mrs. Grace Watt Ross, Miss Blanche Wren, Mrs. H.R. Reynolds, Dr. Mary Thompson, Mrs. Carrie Johnson, Miss Emma Wold, Mrs. Sarah Evans." 

Pohl and Thompson were physicians, Gottchall a publisher and printer, Blanche Wren a stenographer, Emma Wold a science teacher at Portland's Lincoln High School. Sarah Evans was Portland Market Inspector, Carrie Johnson a milliner, Mary K. (Mrs. H.R.) Reynolds an author. Records to date don't provide information about Grace Watt Ross's involvement in business. She was a widow and active clubwoman, and worked with Esther Pohl on the Portland Woman's Club Suffrage Campaign Committee.

And here is the Oregonian's note:
"Suffragists Arrange Meetings," Oregonian, January 29, 1912, 7.

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