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Friday, October 22, 2010

Dancing and Voting in the Oregon Primary Election of 1920

Here's another gem from the Oregon primary election on May 21, 1920, when Multnomah County Democrats chose Esther Pohl Lovejoy over her opponent Sylvia McGuire Thompson for the party nomination for U.S. Congress.
Some workers received the day off, including these employees of the Northwestern National Bank. When the polls opened they fulfilled their obligation as voting citizens and cast their ballots, then took off in cars provided by the bank club for Bonneville, Oregon for "sports and dancing."
 Oregonian, May 21, 1920, 4.

Before the Bonneville Dam was constructed the area in Multnomah County was popular for picnics and, evidently, sports and dancing. On its website the Salem Public Library has a beautiful digital image of Bonneville taken in 1915 from the Oregon State Archives collections.
Dancing and voting: sounds like a great tradition to perpetuate.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Esther Lovejoy Wins Democratic Primary for U.S. Congress May 21, 1920

Back to our thread on the 1920 primary election for U.S. Congress, Third District.
The primary presented voters and historians with something unique in Oregon history -- two female candidates vying for the same office. On the one hand, this was not what women activists had hoped for -- two qualified women running against one another for the same office could bring division to the entire activist community. On the other hand, it was a tangible result of expanded female citizenship to be celebrated -- accomplished women wanted to put their hats in the ring.
As we've seen, Esther Lovejoy brought considerable credentials to the campaign: Portland City Health Officer 1907-1909, suffrage activist at the local and national levels, wartime service in France, president of the Medical Women's International Association and acting president of the Medical Women's National Association, and director of the American Women's Hospitals, a transnational medical relief organization. And author. She was a local, national, and transnational figure.

Sylvia McGuire Thompson, seen here from Sunset: Pacific Monthly (October 1917) served locally in the 1917 and 1919 regular legislative sessions and in the special 1920 session, where her House Bill #1 became Oregon's ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment for federal woman suffrage.
For a variety of reasons I explore more in the biography, and particularly because this was a seat for U.S. Congress, Lovejoy's national and international experience won out. She garnered 57 percent of the primary vote.
More on the general election in the next postings.

Friday, October 1, 2010

"An Ordinance to Prohibit . . . Any Marriage Brokerage Business . . ." Portland, 1909

Two previous posts featured Portland press coverage of Oregon marriage agencies. In this post -- the Portland city council's 1909 reaction and more specific evidence about why many Portlanders were opposed to the agencies.

In 1909 the Portland City Council passed Ordinance 20070, "An Ordinance to Prohibit in the City of Portland, the Carrying On of Any Marriage Business, Prohibiting the Publication and Circulation of Advertisements for Matrimonial Purposes . . . " September 24, 1909 (Charter and General Ordinances of the City of Portland, Oregon in Force April 15, 1910 p. 515)

Section 1 declared that "No person shall, in the City of Portland, for hire or for any direct or indirect remuneration, conduct or carry on or cause to be conducted or carried on, any matrimonial agency, or marriage brokerage business, or introducing club, or any similar occupation or calling by whatsoever name it may be called.

Section 2 made it illegal for anyone to publish any advertisement or notice in a newspaper or magazine in the city "the substance or effect of which is that any person desires to meet or to make acquaintance of, or to correspond with, another person of the opposite sex with matrimony as the object, or that any such person desires a companion of the opposite sex."

The ordinance provided a penalty of up to $500 and ninety days in jail.

A 1915 case in which Simon Weyrick was convicted of violating the marriage brokerage ordinance suggests that law was passed because many Portlanders viewed such agencies as fronts for prostitution and the exploitation of women.  Police arrested Weyrick on June 7, 1915 for conducting a marriage bureau and confiscated his files. (S. Weyrick Held; Women Accusers," Oregonian, June 8, 1915, 4). The Oregonian ("Marriage Broker Fined," Oregonian, June 13, 1915, 2:5) reported that Weyrick would "advertise for a woman to take charge of a rooming-house, a woman companion for an elderly gentleman, or for a woman to be employed in other capacities." He asked prospective employees to come to his office and asked about marriage "to one or other gentlemen with which he was in touch" and made a "proposition" that they try "companionship for a certain period of time." Weyrick, the Oregonian concluded, might be credited with the "introduction of trial marriages in Portland."