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Monday, February 27, 2012

February 29, 1912: Anna Howard Shaw to Esther Pohl-- "I feel Oregon to be the Surest Proposition Before Us To-day"

Esther Pohl must have been cheered to receive a letter from National American Woman Suffrage Association chair Anna Howard Shaw, written on February 29, 1912, stating that she felt the Oregon woman suffrage campaign was the "surest proposition before us to-day."

Anna Howard Shaw to Esther Pohl, February 29, 1912, Amy Khedouri Materials.

Shaw's letter is also a window into how professional women combined their work and their activism. Shaw had originally asked Pohl if she could chair the Suffrage Campaign Committee for the Portland Woman's Club but Pohl's work as a physician made it impossible for her to accept. Shaw and the NAWSA board then turned to Sarah Evans, who was the Market Inspector for Portland, a position funded through the board of health and unable to take on the chair. So they reached a solution. They would "secure Headquarters and a competent secretary" and then Evans, Pohl and "other interested women would give it general oversight."

Pohl and Evans had done just that, opening  headquarters at the Rothchild Building in Portland and hiring Nan Strandborg as secretary.

Shaw and the NAWSA board committed $200 dollars for the work, a sign that they did indeed see Oregon as the "surest proposition" for victory.

Friday, February 24, 2012

February 24, 1912: Suffrage Headquarters to be a Clearinghouse as Suffrage Coalitions Expand

Readers of the Oregonian on February 24, 1912 learned of the expansion of suffrage activities in Portland with which Esther Pohl was involved.

"Women Urge Suffrage," Oregonian, February 24, 1912, 4.
In "Women Urge Suffrage" the paper reported the opening of the Portland Woman's Club Suffrage Campaign Committee Headquarters at the Rothchild Building at Fourth and Washington. The PWCCC hired journalist Nan (Mrs. W. P.) Strandborg as the secretary of the committee, which gave her charge of the day-to-day business of the group, led by Esther Pohl, Sarah Evans, Grace Watt Ross and Elizabeth Eggert. Strandborg also supervised the ordering and distribution of suffrage literature and materials. Her work would be vital to the success of the suffrage ballot measure that fall.

The Oregonian noted the committee's intention to build suffrage work across organizations: "The committee intends to make this new headquarters a sort of clearing-house for the local suffrage movement," it reported, "and to affiliate with all other suffrage groups and clubs throughout the state."

The Oregonian also published a notice of the fourth suffrage forum featuring Emma Wold and Millie Trumbull. Esther Pohl had established the forums that January as another way to build support for suffrage across organizations and to be "open to all."

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

February 21, 1912: Esther Pohl and Sara Bard Field Ehrgott Speak at the Oregon Irrigation Conference in Favor of Woman Suffrage

Esther Pohl and her suffrage colleagues in Oregon knew they needed to reach as many male voters as possible with their message about the importance of votes for women in the 1912 campaign. By February 1912, in addition to her work with the Portland Woman's Club Suffrage Campaign Committee, organizing speaker forums, and helping to promote the cause with votes for women literature, Pohl also began speaking to various business associations and other male groups.

On February 12, 1912 Pohl and suffragist Sara Bard Field Ehrgott spoke to members of the newly-organized Oregon Irrigation Congress assembled in Portland from around the state. The Portland Evening Telegram reported: "Yesterday two of the prominent suffragettes, Mrs. Sara Bard Field Ehrgott and Dr. Esther Pohl, were given a hearing before the Irrigation Congress. The women spoke briefly but to the point and were cordially received by the men, many of whom come from districts considered doubtful by the suffragists who are anxious to seize every opportunity to reach voters of remote sections of the state." ("Hanley Out Strong for Woman Suffrage," Portland Evening Telegram, February 22, 1912, 1.) Eastern Oregon developer William Hanley, the Telegram noted, also spoke in favor of the votes for women cause.

The Telegram's report points to several of the tactics Pohl and her colleagues were developing to bring the suffrage message to as many Oregon men as possible. Pohl and other suffragists, the paper noted, were "anxious to seize every opportunity to reach voters of remote districts of the state." Speaking at a statewide convention in Portland that brought men from many regions was one way to do this; Pohl later traveled to towns for direct organizing. 

Pohl and Field Ehrgott "spoke briefly and to the point and were cordially received by the men." As we have seen, Pohl believed that it was politically advantageous to gain men's support rather than confronting them and causing conflict; it would hurt the cause to "attack public men." And it always helped to have a leading male figure support the cause, in this case William Hanley.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

February 16, 1912: Esther Pohl and Colleagues Refine New Style Campaigning in the "Yellowest of Yellow" Suffrage Color

Oregon suffragists, including Esther Pohl, helped to transform the early twentieth century woman suffrage movement around the nation by adopting techniques of mass campaigning and using popular culture to their advantage. Pohl had used leaflets, signs, and parades to spread the suffrage message in her work for the 1906 ballot measure.

Those new strategies had helped Washington (1910) and California (1911) to secure votes for women victories. Now, in February 1912, Oregon suffragists like Pohl, working with the Portland Woman's Club Campaign Committee and members of other newly-forming organizations like the Oregon chapter of the College Equal Suffrage League, would adapt materials from these successful campaigns.

"Suffragists to Copy Campaigns of Others," Portland Evening Telegram, February 16, 1912, 10.  

The Portland Evening Telegram reported on February 16, 1912 that the Portland Woman's Club Campaign Committee on which Pohl served had received pledges "which will care for an estimated expense of $300 a month done under club auspices." We know that $200 of that came from contributions funneled through Anna Howard Shaw, president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association.

The club campaign committee was making arrangements for headquarters and then would be able to send out suffrage literature. "The Oregon literature will be modeled after that which brought success in Washington and California, copies of all their bulletins, leaflets and circulars having been secured," the Evening Telegram noted. "These will be remodeled and adapted to the needs of Oregon and issued on the yellowest of yellow stock," the primary suffrage color.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Votes for Women Forum February 10, 1912: Esther Pohl on Teddy Roosevelt's Suffrage Turnaround

At the second of the twice-monthly suffrage forums in Portland, Esther Pohl opened the discussion about Theodore Roosevelt's announcement that after a lifetime opposed to votes for women he was now in support. TR would be the Progressive Party candidate for the presidency in 1912 and was apparently angling for all the votes he could.

Visiting suffragists Helen Hoy Greeley of New York and Charlotte Anita Whitney of California had attacked TR as an opportunist. May Arkwright Hutton of Spokane called him a "hot-air artist." 

Pohl and her colleagues saw things differently.

"Critics of T.R. Hit," Oregonian, February 11, 1912, 14.

In "Critics of T.R. Hit," the Oregonian reported some of Pohl's remarks: "'I think it is injurious to the interests of our cause to attack public men,' said Dr. Pohl yesterday. 'Where one of us who criticizes a public man may have one follower, that man criticized may have a thousand. Suppose all of us became public speakers and started out to criticize men in public life; why, in a short time we wouldn't have a friend left and our cause would be hopeless, unless the men were big enough to overlook our foolishness.'"

Esther Pohl believed that suffragists were on the political razor's edge and that the votes for women cause needed all the friends it could get. Pohl was a Progressive Democrat, had served in Democratic Portland Mayor Harry Lane's administration as city health officer from 1907-1909, and hoped to run for elected office someday herself. But she was willing to welcome latecomer and Republican Progressive Teddy Roosevelt into the suffrage camp.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

February 10, 1912: "Dr. Esther Pohl Hostess at Dinner to Nineteen Workers for the 'Cause'"

A strong feature of the 1912 Oregon woman suffrage victory was the successful work of many groups in coalitions across Portland and the state. A report from the Oregon Journal notes that Esther Pohl hosted a suffrage dinner for nineteen at the Arcadia Garden at the Multnomah Hotel on February 10, 1912. This dinner suggests that what we today would call "informal networking" was also a factor for success of the movement.

"Suffragists Hold Initial Banquet," Oregon Journal, February 11, 1912, 4.

Pohl told the reporter: "It was my purpose in making out the list of guests to get as many new faces as possible. The assemblage you see here tonight is only a very small part of the army of young women who have joined our cause in this state." Here she emphasized the importance of a new generation of suffrage workers.

The Oregon Journal reported the following in attendance at Dr. Esther Pohl's suffrage dinner: Mary Cachot (Mrs. L.W.) Therkelsen, Mrs. B.F. Irvine, Avis Lobdell, Sarah A. Evans, Mrs. Fred L. Olson, Mrs. H. O. Reynolds, Louise Bryant Trullinger, Dora Espy (Mrs. A. King) Wilson, Elizabeth Avery (Mrs. F.) Eggert, Miss C. Barnes, Mrs. Hilda M. Jones, Mrs. Alice Metzier, Mrs. Glenn Wheeler, Dr. Katharine C. Manion, Mary F. Gaffney, Sarah Blanche Wrenn, Mrs. E.E. Covert, Mrs. John F. Logan.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

February 7, 1912 Anna Howard Shaw to Esther Pohl -- "Depend Upon Me for Two Hundred Dollars a Month . . . "

Esther Pohl and her colleagues in the Portland Woman's Club Suffrage Campaign Committee organized in January 1912 and began their suffrage work by sending resolutions to clubwomen across the state. Esther Pohl sent the news and a draft copy of the resolutions to her friend and suffrage colleague Anna Howard Shaw, president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association.

On February 7, 1912, Anna Shaw responded to Pohl, delighted with the "good news of the organization of the club women and the promise that you are Mrs. Evans would take a personal oversight of the work of the committee." She confirmed that the group "might depend upon me for the two hundred dollars a month for campaign work through your committee" These were welcome funds and support indeed. Shaw, an experienced organizer, continued: "I hope you started your headquarters at once and began to reach out to the distant communities with literature."

Anna Howard Shaw to Esther Pohl, February 7, 1912, 1. Amy Khedouri Materials.   

Following more specific instructions about suffrage literature, Shaw wrote of concerns about conflicts with Abigail Scott Duniway since the failed 1906 campaign. Then, she concluded: "Please remember me to Mrs. Evans and tell her how glad I am that she is willing to give time to the work and how I hope you will all be able to rejoice with an exclusively free Pacific Coast" (where all women would be enfranchised).

Pohl was a physician with an active medical practice and Evans was the Market Inspector for the city of Portland. Both would combine their suffrage activism with full-time employment in 1912.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

February 3, 1912: Esther Pohl Speaks to University of Oregon Alumnae -- a "Notable Suffrage Affair" in Portland

On February 3, 1912 members of the University of Oregon Alumnae Association in Portland met at their regular monthly meeting. Votes for women was the topic and Esther Pohl was one of the speakers. The Oregon Journal reported that it was a "notable suffrage affair," and "in accord with the signs of the times."
"Notable Meeting," Oregon Journal, February 5, 1912, 2.

Pohl and other women who had attended the University of Oregon (and this included the University of Oregon Medical Department, now Oregon Health & Science University, where Pohl received her medical degree in 1894) were eligible for membership. Their guest was Charlotte Anita Whitney, president of the California branch of the College Equal Suffrage Association.

Esther Pohl was in Vienna in 1910 for graduate clinical medical studies when women in Washington State achieved the right to vote. She told her audience of college women, according to the Oregon Journal, about "being abroad at the time Washington women were given the enfranchisement, how the news reached her at once, and was generally known. She laid great stress on how much a single state gaining suffrage meant all over the world."

Pohl Lovejoy's later transnational career in public health and feminist activism had roots in her Portland suffrage and city health work. It was also nurtured by her early transnational experiences like this one in Vienna, where she learned "how much a single state gaining suffrage meant all over the world." Born in Washington Territory, she claimed that heritage when Washington State women achieved suffrage. Her subsequent home in Oregon and Portland claimed her suffrage attention in 1912.