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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Carolyn Shelton: Oregon's Acting Governor and Woman Suffrage Supporter

Carolyn Shelton, Oregon's Acting Governor in 1909, left the state for Washington, D.C. to continue her employment with George Chamberlain after he became U.S. Senator from Oregon that same year.

This means that Shelton was not living in Oregon during the last two campaigns for woman suffrage in 1910 and 1912. But we do have evidence that she was a suffrage supporter. In May, 1913, the National Magazine, published in Washington D.C., reported that she had participated in a march on the national capitol building to present a petition favoring woman suffrage to the U.S. Congress on April 8, 1913.

"Affairs at Washington," National Magazine 38 (May 1913) 192-93. 

The National Magazine noted her participation, and added "Although the state of Oregon but recently adopted 'votes for women,' yet one of the gentler sex has already acted as its chief executive." We also learn that at the time of Woodrow Wilson's inauguration on March 3, 1913 (when suffragists mounted an extensive parade in the city and hundreds of spectators engaged in violence against them) women visiting her office "addressed her formally as 'Governor,' insisting that as she once held the office she should properly be addressed by that title." Perhaps referring to the 1909 editorial in the Eugene Register reprinted in the Oregonian, the reporter insisted that "no one made the fatal error of referring to her as 'governess.'"

Here's how the New York Times reported the suffrage march in which Shelton participated:

"Impressive March of Suffrage 531," New York Times, April 8, 1913, 7.
Shelton's work away from Oregon did not prevent her from interest in and support for women's activities there after gaining the right to vote. More on this in the next post.