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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.