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Where is Women’s History in Oregon?

June 13, 2012

By Cara Kaser

Oregon Heritage created the Oregon Women’s History Project to commemorate a century of women’s right to vote in the state and have put together a simple-to-use system to document these important places. Since the project’s launch in May, several new places from all over the state have been added to the list.

Margaret Howe holding an “Oregon” shield in Washington D.C. at a women’s suffrage march in 1913. Oregon women obtained the right to vote in 1912.

Here are three of the new places:

Geer Farmhouse

The 1850 Geer Farmhouse near Salem was a gathering place for many community women where they could voice their concerns and ideas on a range of topics in a safe place. Suffrage talks undoubtedly took place here, and the Willard Women’s Club met for the first time in the farmhouse kitchen in 1913 (and continued to use it until 2008). Musa Geer, the first woman to climb Mt. Jackson and active among the first Oregon and Washington women entrepreneurs, also was born here in 1873.

Michael and Martha Hanley Farmstead

This 1854 farmstead near Medford was owned and managed by women for nearly a century. Alice Hanley inherited the farm in 1889 where she raised her niece. Alice was a charter member of the Oregon Federation of Garden Clubs and helped establish the Oregon Home Extension Service in Southern Oregon in 1919, which she served on the board for the rest of her life. Alice also spoke before the state legislature to improve conditions for farm women and in 1922 ran for state representative in opposition of the Ku Klux Klan-backed candidate. Alice’s niece, Claire, shared the farm with her sisters after Alice’s death in 1940. Like her aunt, Claire was active in the home extension service and local and state garden clubs. Claire and her sister, Mary, were founding members of the Southern Oregon Historical Society. Mary later donated the farm to the Southern Oregon Historical Society in 1982.

Convent of the Holy Names

The 1911 Convent of the Holy Names at Marylhurst University in Lake Oswego was built by the Sisters of the Holy Name of Jesus and Mary who have used the Italian Villa style building for a variety of uses over the last century. These include the use of the building as an administration center, novitiate, infirmary, refectory, library, and chapel. Today, a portion of the building is used by the Mary’s Woods retirement community.

If you know of a place to include in the Women’s History Project, just fill out the Women’s History Project form and submit it. Find more information and examples of women’s history places on the Women’s History Project page. View all the places in the project online through the Oregon Historic Sites Database by searching for “Women’s History” in the “Group Name” field on the search screen.

Cara Kaser is the Heritage Outreach Specialist with Oregon Heritage. Two of her favorite women’s history places in Oregon are the historic Women’s Community Clubhouse building in Stayton and the Union Women’s Club building in Union.

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