We're recognizing Women's History Month at the library this year with a display of Notable Oregon women and a screening of the recent film, Suffragette on March 15 at 7:00 p.m.
While doing research for the display, I discovered some women I had heard of, and some who were brand new to me!
Florence Augusta Merriam Bailey was an ornithologist and nature writer whose fieldwork contributed significantly to the knowledge of the birds of Oregon. Best known for Handbook of Birds of the Western United States, she was called the First Lady of American ornithology.
Bethenia Owens-Adair overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles to become a social reformer and one of Oregon’s first women doctors with a medical degree. At age 14, barely able to read or write, she married Legrand Hill, and became a mother at 16. At age 19 Bethenia left Hill, took back her name, and went to college, then medical school.
She was also passionately involved in reform movements. Frustrated by gender prescriptions and inspired by friend Abigail Scott Duniway, she argued for woman suffrage as well as women’s education, employment, and health.
Cornelia Marvin Pierce helped shape the state’s social, educational, and political conditions as state librarian, political activist, and reformer. Marvin moved to Salem in 1905 to direct a new agency, the Oregon Library Commission, which became the State Library in 1913. Under her direction, the State Library assisted communities in organizing, opening, and securing tax funding for libraries and provided direct services from its offices in Salem. In 1905, there were three public libraries; by 1928, there were eighty-two.
Many other accomplished women have made their mark in Oregon. If you'd like to learn about more, come visit our display. If you'd like to learn more about women's struggle for the right to vote, join us on Tuesday, March 15 when the film Suffragette will be shown.