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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Interstate Introducing Society 1905

More in this set of postings on marriage agencies in early 20th century Oregon.Today the "Interstate Introducing Society: The Most Reliable Marriage Club in the World."
The Oregon Journal ("Marriage Bureau Owner His Own Best Customer," Oregon Journal, March 16, 1905, 1, 6) reported the case of Andrew Cochran of Condon, Oregon, who came to Portland in search of a wife and paid $350 to become half partner in J.H. Hamilton's Interstate Introducing Society "with offices in the Lange hotel, Sixth and Washington." When Hamilton went to Seattle Cochran "began an inventory of his property" and took the file of Sarah Emily Keyes of Milwaukee, Oregon out of circulation and went to visit her. The story ends with their marriage.

There are many messages embedded within the story. For some readers it was obviously an advertisement for the Interstate Introducing Society -- Cochran achieves his goal and as readers learned at the close of the article, his new wife Keyes was a wealthy property owner. Yet the article also pokes fun at him, has him using what might be a country bumpkin dialect, and avoiding a chivaree the night before his marriage. Keyes is a woman of considerable property but interested in marriage. One reading of the tale is that she is an objectified woman, her ad part of the "property" of the agency. Yet she is also a participant in the process, reading the Matrimonial Register and making selections among the men advertising themselves.
We also learn that the agency required membership fees and introduction fees and connected interested and paid up parties with others by publishing a Matrimonial Register.
Come back for the next posting -- the city of Portland's reaction to marriage agencies.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Matrimonial Agencies Run Amok in Oregon

In the next several posts I digress from the narrative of the 1920 primary election in Portland to report about the early twentieth century version of internet dating -- matrimonial agencies, matrimonial papers and an organization called the "Interstate Introducing Society: The Most Reliable Marriage Club in the World."

It is impossible not to notice these headlines while reading microfilm from early twentieth century Portland newspapers. Next to an article on "one of the most animated meetings ever held by the state board of health" from the Oregon Journal for March 20, 1905 p. 8 is the irresistible headline "Says His Wife is a Fire Worshiper":

Oregon Railroad and Navigation section foreman Ballard Brooks and Nellie Cooper met after he subscribed to a "matrimonial paper" and read her "advertisement." Brooks lived in Weatherby, Oregon in Baker County because the OR&N required that he live near his section. He "decided that it was necessary to annex a wife" and, because there were "no women in that section" he got a subscription to a "matrimonial paper" featuring entries from women describing themselves to potential mates. 

Ballard and Nellie corresponded, arranged a meeting on October 24, 1903, and married that same day.

There were "numerous trivial and incidental charges and counter-charges of infidelity and similar things" the Oregon Journal noted. But Ballard could not abide Nellie's "fire-worshiping" and filed for divorce. We yearn for Nellie's side of the story here. Perhaps Baker County historians can locate it for us.

Stay tuned for more, including the "Interstate Introducing Society" and why Portland decided to take action against them.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Esther Pohl Lovejoy Campaign 1920: Credentials, Networking, PR, and the Check is in the Mail

Esther Pohl Lovejoy declared her 1920 candidacy as a Democrat for U.S. Congress from Oregon's Third District (Multnomah County/Portland) on March 11, 1920 on a visit to the Pacific Northwest. Lovejoy was then the chair of the medical humanitarian relief organization the American Women's Hospitals headquartered in New York City and sponsored by the Medical Women's National Association. She was also acting chair of the MWNA. And she was also the president of the fledgling Medical Women's International Association. And she had, that February, represented Oregon along with Effie Comstock Simmons, at the National American Woman Suffrage Association's "victory" convention, which oversaw the transformation of NAWSA to the League of Women Voters. This, combined with her wartime medical work and her record as an Oregon suffragist and in municipal office as Portland City Health Officer from 1907-1909, was a strong record upon which to build a campaign.

Pohl decided to run, but had also to manage the Medical Women's National Association convention in New Orleans in May. She was also part of a NAWSA delegation to Connecticut to urge that state to ratify the Nineteenth (woman suffrage) Amendment. No one else had filed for the primary as a Democrat. She campaigned, set up an organization, and returned to New York in April, planning to return after the May 21 primary in which she stood unopposed.

Two weeks later, Sylvia Thompson, who had served in the Oregon House in the 1917 and 1919 sessions, announced her candidacy for the seat. Thompson was part of a faction in Oregon that opposed Democratic senator George E. Chamberlain, Lovejoy's ally from previous campaigns and suffrage work in the state.

Lovejoy's supporters rallied to define her candidacy as one in which her national and international experience and current commitments would make her a successful representative of Oregon. A great example is "Dr. Lovejoy is Too Busy to Return Here for Campaign Work," Oregon Journal, April 28, 1920, 3.

The article has it all -- credentials, networking, and PR. Clare Pierce, the daughter of former Democratic state senator Walter M. Pierce, reports on Lovejoy's activities -- the upcoming MWNA convention in New Orleans, her work with the national suffrage organization in the ratification of the 19th Amendment at the request of NAWSA president Carrie Chapman Catt, and by the way, Herbert Hoover has just written the foreword to the second edition of Lovejoy's House of the Good Neighbor, a record of her wartime medical service with the Red Cross.

Did the strategy work? Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Portland Doctors Invite Candidates for Grilling in 1920 Primary

The Portland City and County Medical Society wanted candidates on the record in the 1920 primary season.

Society president Dr. A. E. McKay sent out invitations to all candidates for legislative and other office to sign up for a five minute time slot at the group's May 5 meeting "in which to state what he can and will do for the medical profession and for public health." Physicians pledged to vote for those candidates who had a pro-health policy record.

McKay noted that the society "has come to a realization that if proper health laws are to be passed and enforced, and if the people are to be protected against medical frauds, the physicians must take an active interest in the candidates for office."

This was music to Esther Pohl Lovejoy's ears. She was a Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress from Oregon's third district (Portland and Multnomah County) with the best support of public health of anyone in the field. But she would not be in Portland on May 5, 1920. And she hoped that the reasons why would help and not hinder her campaign. Stay tuned for more  . . .

Oregon Journal, April 28, 1920, 2.

Monday, September 13, 2010

L(ucetta) A(melia) Smith, M.D. Redux

A wise scholar and kind friend recently told me that she hopes I never find all of the answers. I agree with her -- the quest is the thing, a continuous reward. But here is a bit more information on a woman who has been the subject of at least two separate quests involving historical detection and identification . . . . and some thoughts on the nature of historical research in the bargain.

In the summer of 2009, amid work on my biography of Esther Pohl Lovejoy, I was researching other nineteenth century women physicians in Oregon at the incredible Historical Collections & Archives at the Oregon Health & Science University. As archivist Sara Piasecki blogged at the time, we found evidence in an alumni register that the L.A. Smith, M.D. who graduated from the Willamette University Medical Department in 1868 was a woman. This would have made her the first woman to graduate from medical school in Oregon and the West. Who was she? We tried to find out more. Of course, the practice of using initials was pervasive -- women professionals often did it, but it makes the job of the historian a complicated one.

Then, in December 2009, Sara Piasecki uncovered additional materials from registrar, historian, and supporter of women students at OHSU Lucy Davis Phillips. When I was able to comb through the materials it became clear that Davis Phillips had also been on the trail of L A Smith. But because we did not have access to the records of her search we followed paths that she had also explored without knowing that they led her (and us) to dead ends. Now with these materials at hand we could find out more.

In those new materials are letters from Davis Phillips to various people trying to track down L A Smith. In 1937 she wrote to the Association of American Medical Colleges trying to clear things up. Did they have an L A Smith, a woman student, graduating from Willamette in 1868? "Somewhere I got the name Lucella Amelia for this person," she wrote, "but I am beginning to suspect that the name was confused with Lucetta Amelia Smith, a graduate of Ann Arbor, who was in Roseburg, Oregon for many years" now living in California. Additional correspondence supported the idea that the 1868 graduate L A Smith was a man and Lucella was really Lucetta Amelia Smith, who practiced for some time in Roseburg. So the case was closed and Angela L. Ford and Ella A. J. Ford have the distinction of being Oregon's first medical women graduates in 1877.

Was I disappointed? Sure, a bit. But glad to have at least some of the questions answered.

Imagine, then, my delight at finding Lucetta Amelia Smith, M.D. in the 1928 edition of Women of the West: A Series of Biographical Sketches of Living Eminent Women in the Eleven Western States of the United States of America ed. Max Binheim, (Los Angeles: Publishers Press, 1928) 164-5 on the same page with Lillian Tingle. Here is more about the twentieth century woman physician who, while not the "first" L A Smith, was a significant figure in Oregon and women's medical history:

"SMITH, Lucetta Amelia (Miss) M.D., born in Ionia, Michigan, September 8, 1880, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ambrose G. Smith, a resident of Oregon for nineteen years. Physician. Graduated from the University of Michigan, 1906. Interneship, Woman's Hospital of Chicago, 1906-1907. Member of local Medical Ass'n, President of local Business and Professional Women's Club. Member: American Medical Woman's Assn, National Fed. of Business and Professional Women's Clubs, University Woman's Club, etc. Home: Masonic Bldg., Roseburg, Oregon."

Lucetta Amelia Smith, M.D. occupies a different place in the story of Oregon medical women than we first supposed. The quest for L A Smith undoubtedly gave me more perspective on early graduates in Oregon than I would have had otherwise. And now Lucetta Amelia Smith joins the ranks of her important cohort of colleagues -- women who came to Oregon with medical degrees who worked in their profession and for the advancement of women. Calling all Roseburg historians -- we want to know more!  And never mind finding all of the answers -- the quest is its own best reward.

Finally, what more can I say about an archivist who is willing to go on this journey with a researcher. Brava and thank you, Sara. You are the very, very best.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sarah A. Evans, Portland Market Inspector 1905-1935

Sarah Evans, clubwoman and activist, decided that the position of market inspector was too important for the women of Portland to lose, even at the salary of $65 per month. The position was vacant when Mayor Harry Lane reorganized the city board of health in August 1905 and appointed Esther C. Pohl, M.D. and two of her medical colleagues, A J Geisy and George F. Wilson. There were six applicants: Sarah A. Evans, Ernest H. Garton, Mrs. R. Allgood, Mrs. A.R. Linning, Mrs. W.J. Tallman and Miss Emma Chapard. At a special meeting on August 11, 1905 the board elected Sarah Evans to be the new Portland Market Inspector with the recommendation of the School of Domestic Science. (The records of the Board of Health are all located at the City of Portland Archives and Records Center under the fabulous care of City Archivist Diana Banning and her staff.)

Evans was a charter member of the Portland Woman’s Club and the Portland Young Women’s Christian Association and one of the founders of the Oregon Federation of Women’s Clubs serving as president from 1905 to 1915. She represented clubwomen interested in “municipal housekeeping” and the domestic science movement that motivated Portland women to begin the market inspection crusade. For a decade she edited the Women’s Clubs section of the Oregon Journal beginning in 1904. And she would be a vital part of Oregon’s 1906 and 1912 suffrage campaigns.

In 1905, when Upton Sinclair was publishing a serialized version of The Jungle, his undercover discoveries of horrible conditions in Chicago meat packing, in the socialist journal the Appeal to Reason, and before the publication of the book in 1906, Evans was getting up early in the morning to inspect markets and report her findings in detail to the press and board of health.

Her reports read like Sinclair and, unfortunately, like Fast Food Nation and other contemporary investigations. But she also noted progress in the campaign. Her report for September 1905 was, in part:

… “The Excelsior Market on East Morrison and Union Avenue refused me admission.  I was compelled to call a policeman.  When I made the examination I found the place filthy . . .
In a market on Morrison Street I found a great quantity of chickens cooped in a small cellar where they were making sausage and had pickled meat standing open. While I was making my examination I saw a rat run over a firkin of meat that stood open on the floor, and gnaw some that stood out of the brine. I gave them twenty-four hours to get the chickens out and the place cleaned up. Upon returning I found that my orders had been carried out.
…. I visited the Commission Merchant and was hold by him ‘that frequently veal came in when the quarters, from various causes would be sour. It was then sent to the markets that the hides might be saved and such parts of the animal as had not yet soured, that there might be as little loss to the shippers as possible.’ He had been doing this for eighteen years, he said, and had never thought of it as being unhealthy. I have his promise that in his house, at least, it will not occur again. . . .
. . . “During the month I have received four written complains and numerous verbal ones, and with one exception, I found them well-founded.”

Her reports to the board of health are filled with descriptions of coal tar dyed shrimp, dyes in catsup and meat additives; she called the Humane Society about treatment of live chickens at one market. In June 1906 she noted progress in refrigerated counters at many markets and a “sentiment for better market conditions seems to prevail.”

The incident of refusal to admit Evans was not an isolated one. In September 1906, after the proprietor of the Western Market “forcibly resisted” Evans’s efforts to take away a sample of meat for analysis, she sought and Mayor Lane gave her the “authority of a special officer” with police powers.

Sarah Evans and Esther Lovejoy were close friends and colleagues. One of my favorite images is of the two of them at the health office in City Hall in 1907 at the incomparable Historical Collections & Archives at Oregon Health & Science University.

Evans retired in 1935 at the age of 80 after thirty years as market inspector. Along the way that original salary of $65 grew and she got expenses covered. At her retirement the Oregonian reported (along with the two images below “Sarah A. Evans First Inspector,” Oregonian June 23, 1935, I:2) that she received a pension of $40 per month from the city. She died in 1940.

Someone out there must know where this picture and more from her "treasured collection" are today -- won't you let us know?

Portland had led the way for other groups, including the Consumers’ League and the National Federation of Women’s Clubs, to adopt pure food and market inspection goals. You’ll be able to read more about it in the Lovejoy biography.

See also

Encyclopedia of Northwest Biography, ed. Winfield Scott Downs (New York: American Historical Company, 1943) s.v. Evans, Sarah Ann (Shannon), 220-23.

Sandra Haarsager, Organized Womanhood: Cultural Politics in the Pacific Northwest, 1840-1920 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997), 291-300.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

"It is understood that one or more members of the [health] board are in favor of appointing a man . . ."

More on the Portland health board's market inspection/women in appointed office story from 1905.

By July 6, 1905 mayor Harry Lane, M.D. was organizing his new administration and there was still no woman candidate on hand for the office of market inspector. Portland women had lobbied successfully for the post before Lane's election, but the city council had underfunded it. Lillian Tingle, director of the Portland School of Domestic Science, had held the post for two months but resigned on July 1 because the salary was too small.

The Oregon Journal ("No Successor Found to Miss Tingle Yet," Oregon Journal, July 6, 1905, 6) worried that Tingle's two months of accomplishments would be lost if the office was not soon filled. And the paper reported that "It is likely that in case a woman cannot be found to take the position a man may be appointed. It is understood that one or more members of the board are in favor of appointing a man, and Dr. Biersdorf, city health officer, so expressed himself today."

Lane, on the other hand, believed that "there are many good women who could be secured to fill this position."

Would Portland women lose this important appointed office that many had fought so hard to achieve? How would they resolve the dilemma of low salary?

What a difference a month would make. Stay tuned -- Portland got a new health board (including Esther Pohl) and a new market inspector who would keep the job for twenty years.