1800 SW 6th Ave, Suite 550, Portland, OR 97201
2020 marks the 100-year anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, giving women throughout the U.S. the constitutional right to vote. Oregon’s women gained that right eight years earlier in 1912. Women’s suffrage was voted on five times in Oregon before it passed the sixth and final time. *
To celebrate the ratification of the federal amendment, the City of Portland Archives is highlighting Women in Portland. We are focusing on ten women who have worked for the City or in the larger Portland community. Some are well known and others unseen by history, but all have contributed to the story of Portland. We found many images of women in our collection that remain largely nameless and we have included them too as a backdrop to our exhibit.
Researching the life of any individual can be a challenging process, however researching the lives of women can be even more difficult. Legal and social practices have served to erase or hide women from history, from adopting the social norm of being known by their husband’s first and last name (Mrs. Joseph Crane) to working in support positions without power or recognition like secretaries, childcare providers, factory workers and cooks. Women’s stories are often fragmented, and their work overlooked or claimed by men. To make matters worse, the records then deemed historically significant and therefore preserved most often tell the story of white men, while the stories of women and communities of color are most often disregarded. Archivists, activists, and historians have begun working to find, elevate, and preserve the stories of women and communities of color; however, researching women, especially women of color, remains a challenge.
This exhibit features ten women who represent the important and diverse roles women played in Portland’s past. For some of these women we have extensive records. For others, their story has been patched together from pieces of information in documents, photographs and newspaper accounts. All of them have some connection to the City of Portland, whether they worked for the City, were surveilled by the police, were part of an urban renewal committee, or simply active in their community. These women’s stories are stories of Portland. As an archives, we want to shine a light on them to actively start to fill in the gaps of history.