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Thursday, March 29, 2012

March 31, 1912: Portland Woman's Club Campaign Committee Tallies Successes with a $275 Price Tag for March

Sarah Evans, in her weekly Women's Clubs column in the Oregon Journal for March 31, 1912, presented a proud report on the successes of the Portland Woman's Club Suffrage Campaign Committee, a committee on which Evans served with Esther Pohl, Grace Watt Ross, and Elizabeth Eggert.

Sarah A. Evans, "Women's Clubs," Oregon Journal, March 31, 1912 5:5 
Evans's pride in the work is evident from the first sentence: "That the Woman's club campaign committee exists for work and not to be ornamental," she wrote, "may be seen from the following extract taken from the committee's last report to the club."

The report provides detailed evidence that the committee was using the new campaign tactics of mass media and advertising.

Evans noted that the committee had "communicated with every newspaper in the state" to ask them to endorse the suffrage ballot measure in November and had included votes for women materials for them to publish. "A large number have answered, and wish few exceptions favorably." The committee had a news service bureau to supply the state's newspapers with regular updates and information.

The committee had purchased ten thousand votes for women buttons and additional pennants. They celebrated St. Patrick's Day with flair, including a green votes for women banner at headquarters. They supplied information for school debates and held public forums.

The committee had sent 1003 letters with suffrage literature enclosed and "mail is growing to huge proportions coming from all parts of the state."

All this for a monthly expenditure that March 1912 of approximately $275.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

March 28, 1912: Esther Pohl Helps to Organize Eugene Suffrage Society

On March 28, 2012 Esther Pohl and Portland Woman's Club Suffrage Campaign Committee Colleagues Grace Watt Ross and Elizabeth Eggert helped to organize the Eugene Equal Suffrage League. Pohl's speech highlighted the links between women's votes and healthy communities.

The Eugene Daily Guard reported details of the meeting. Two hundred women were present for the organizational meeting. Organizers wanted to "work for votes for women and to educate women in their political duties and responsibilities." Any woman could become a member.

The group elected officers that day: Minnie Washburne, president; Mrs. P. L. Campbell, honorary president; Mrs. Fletcher, first vice president; Mrs. M.E. Watson, second vice president; Mrs. Morris Duryea, third vice-president; Mrs. E. J. Frasier, fourth vice president; Mrs. R. S. Bryson, recording secretary; Mrs. L. T. Harris, corresponding secretary; Mrs. C. A. Burden, treasurer.

Pohl, Ross and Eggert spoke at the meeting and the Eugene suffragists held a lunch in their honor on March 29.

"Eugene Suffragists Organize League in Eugene Last Night," Eugene Daily Guard, March 29, 1912, 6.

Friday, March 23, 2012

March 1912: Esther Pohl and Colleagues Organize in Eugene for Suffrage

On March 19, 1912 Minnie Washburne of Eugene wrote to Esther Pohl, letting her know that Eugene women were planning to organize a suffrage league on March 28 and inviting her to come to speak at the event and also to attend a luncheon at the Fortnightly Club on March 29.

The Portland Evening Telegram reported that Pohl and colleagues Grace Watt Ross and Elizabeth Eggert planned to go to Eugene as organizers:

"Will Extend Help to Eugene Suffragists," Evening Telegram, March 27, 1912, 2.

The text of Esther Pohl's speech, probably at the organizing meeting and not the shorter toast noted in the Telegram, is in the Amy Khedouri materials:

"It ought to be easy for me to speak on the subject of Equal Suffrage in the city of Eugene," she said, "for the strongest plea I ever heard for the enfranchisement of women was made by Dr. Anna Shaw, the president of the National Suffrage Association, before the State Medical Society of Oregon in the year 1906, and her theme was the political aspect of the Eugene epidemic of typhoid fever. The whole State had been exercised for months on account of the large number of cases at Eugene and every man or woman with a son or daughter at the state University had been anxious. The medical profession was aroused, several papers on the epidemic were read, and the Health officers attributed the trouble to an infected water supply--and the water supply of a city is, of course, one of its most important political responsibilities."

Statistics of the epidemic, she noted, indicated that more women than men were afflicted; and women needed the political power of the vote to take part in their responsibility for a healthy community.

Monday, March 19, 2012

March 19, 1912: Shaw to Pohl -- "Put on Her Brow a Halo or a Laurel Wreath or an Eagle Plume if Possible, But Keep the Money to Push the Work"

Esther Pohl sent a telegram to National American Woman Suffrage Association president Anna Howard Shaw about conflicts in Portland suffrage circles and opposition from Abigail Scott Duniway and her supporters. As per recent posts, Shaw and NAWSA were supporting Pohl and the Portland Woman's Club Campaign Committee because of conflict with and lack of trust of Duniway.

Shaw responded with advice and encouragement on March 19, 1912:

"Anna Shaw to Esther Pohl, March 19, 1912," Amy Khedouri Materials.

Shaw wrote that she had "expected something of this sort," because "as soon as it was known that money was received there would be an eager scramble for it." The NAWSA president advised Pohl, "the thing for us to do is simply to ignore all contentions and all disputes, refuse to dispute with them, refuse to recognize any attach which they make, or to notice in any way any charges that are brought forward. Go on with the good work in which you are busy."

She also advised Pohl to send suffrage literature statewide and discussed campaign finances. And as she closed her letter she returned to advice about moving forward:

Anna Shaw to Esther Pohl, March 19, 1912, 2, Amy Khedouri Materials.

"I think from now on the one thing to do is to ignore the fact that there is any trouble and go right straight ahead as if there were none, and whenever it is possible for you to co-operate with Mrs. Dunniway (sic) do so, show her any courtesy you can, put on her brow a halo or a laurel wreath or an Eagle plume if possible, but keep the money to push the work."

Friday, March 16, 2012

Portland Suffragists and St. Patrick's Day 1912: A Twelve Foot Green Sign at Portland Woman's Club Suffrage Campaign Committee Headquarters

As we've seen in recent posts, Esther Pohl and members of the Portland Woman's Club campaign committee were committed to using popular culture and mass advertising to campaign for votes for women in 1912. A report from the Portland Evening Telegram on March 16, 1912 demonstrates that they did not hesitate to use St. Patrick's Day as a vehicle for advocating votes for women.

"Green Paper Storm Work of Suffragists," Evening Telegram, March 16, 1912, 11.

In "Green Paper Storm Work of Suffragists," the Telegram reported: "A shower of green-hued paper mottoes bearing quotations from [Charles Stewart] Parnell and other Irish patriots attracted the eyes of hundreds of passers-by on Washington street this noon. Pedestrians reaching for the green slips raised their eyes to skyward to see if a miracle were being performed in honor of St. Patrick." They were greeted, the paper noted "by a 12-foot green sign fluttering from the campaign headquarters of the Portland Woman's Club in the Rothchild building." The sign had Votes for Women in "conspicious white lettering."

The green cards and banner "made a hit with the crowd" in the Telegram reporter's estimation. "One gallant . . . doffed his hat" and told them of his support, and another asked for a handful of the new buttons the women were distributing. The paper characterized statement in his Scots accent this way: "'I know mony a man as will be willin' to wear one.'"

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

March 16, 1912: Woman's Club to Travel Own Road

Esther Pohl and the members of the Portland Woman's Club Suffrage Campaign Committee tried to facilitate an advisory committee to coordinate the work of suffrage organizations in early March 1912. As the Oregon Journal reported on March 16, 1912, they had hoped to "avoid waste of time, resources, energy and talent by duplication of work."

But after several weeks of conflict with members of the Oregon State Equal Suffrage Association including allies of Abigail Scott Duniway who believed this was a challenge to her authority (which it was), the PWCCC announced at its March 16, 1912 meeting that it would not participate in the advisory committee. "Since the mission of the woman's club campaign committee is work and not contention, it does hereby withdraw its delegation from the advisory committee content to leave the issue with the future."
"Woman's Club to Travel Own Road," Oregon Journal, March 16, 1912, 11.

Friday, March 9, 2012

March 10, 1912: "Mrs. Duniway is Ill"

An important aspect of the 1912 Oregon suffrage campaign was the illness of 77-year-old, first generation suffrage leader Abigail Scott Duniway. As I've noted in previous posts, Duniway was in conflict with national suffrage leaders and with local leaders, including Esther Pohl and Sarah Evans.

Her illness throughout the campaign meant that Viola Coe would be honorary chair of the Oregon State Equal Suffrage Association, that there would be additional room for new suffrage organizations and coalition building, and that second-generation suffragists like Pohl would have more opportunity to direct new-style campaigns geared to popular culture and mass advertising.

Throughout 1912 newspaper accounts recounted the ups and downs in Duniway's health, beginning with this March 10, 1912 report in the Oregonian:

"Mrs. Duniway is Ill," Oregonian, March 10, 1912, 4.

Monday, March 5, 2012

March 1912: Suffrage Literature is Flooding Oregon--"Organize, Advertise, Give Something"

Esther Pohl and the members of the Portland Woman's Club Suffrage Campaign Committee knew that mass campaigning had helped Washington State suffragists (1910) and California suffragists (1911) achieve votes for women. They were determined to use popular culture to reach male voters in Oregon in their 1912 campaign.

The Portland Evening Telegram reported on March 13, 1912 that the club was "flooding" the state with suffrage literature. "Every publisher of a newspaper is being asked where he stands on the subject of equal suffrage and if he will be willing to accept leaflets and 'boiled down' arguments of readable character that the committee will agree to send him for publication."

"Suffrage Literature is Flooding Oregon," Evening Telegram, March 13, 1912, 3.

Pohl and the PWCCC sent out one leaflet in suffrage yellow, the paper reported, urging people to act:

"If you are a woman, give a suffrage tea. If you are a man invite a suffrage speaker to your club. Join some suffrage organization; if there is none, form one. Write suffrage articles for the papers. Use suffrage post cards,  rubber stamps, distribute material. Ask your minister to preach on suffrage. Provide students with material for debate. Organize, advertise, give something--time, service, monty, yourself. Everything counts."

Friday, March 2, 2012

Early March 1912: Cooperation and Conflict in Portland Suffrage Circles

The month of March 1912 brought important developments to the suffrage campaign in Portland. Esther Pohl and members of the Portland Woman's Club Suffrage Campaign Committee were determined to break the cycle of defeat by forming a new organization apart from Abigail Scott Duniway's Oregon State Equal Suffrage League because of discontent and conflict with Duniway and the need to move forward. Other groups, such as the College Equal Suffrage League and the Portland Equal Suffrage League were forming and active. But Duniway and her supporters, particularly Viola Coe and Marie Equi, were angry and saw this as an attempt to take power away from the OSESA.

At the beginning of March the Woman's Club Campaign Committee held a meeting to organize an advisory committee to coordinate the efforts of suffrage groups. Many members of the new organizations wanted to work together; Duniway and her allies were angry and tried to control, then block the new advisory committee.

On March 13, 1912 the Oregonian published a long article titled "Suffrage Branch Gets Aid in East." As we've seen in earlier postings, Pohl and the Woman's Club Committee were working with Anna Howard Shaw, president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, whom Duniway despised. They announced, as the Oregonian reported, that "an Eastern woman" was contributing to the Oregon campaign, "with the express stipulation that these funds shall be received and expended by this committee exclusively." They did not disclose that it was Shaw. Shaw, Pohl and other allies were convinced that conflict created by Duniway after the 1906 campaign and her poor handling of the 1908 and 1910 ballot measures with little support, had to be turned around. Shaw would not provide the money unless through the Portland Woman's Club Campaign Committee.

The Woman's Club Committee, the Oregonian noted, "realizes that harmony is the all-important essential to success in the coming campaign, and is anxious to co-operate in every possible way with all other organizations in the various lines of work each is following. Duniway responded that any and all funds had to come to her organization alone; and each local organization, she said, had to pay dues to hers.

"Suffrage Branch Gets Aid in East," Oregonian, March 13, 1912, 15.