The Oregon Woman: History

Meet 6 Badass Dames of Portland Yore

From abortion doctors to black lawyers to vegetarian spiritualists, these women were kicking ass and taking names during our city's formative years.

By Heather Arndt Anderson March 20, 2017 Published in the April 2017 issue of Portland Monthly

We all know Abby Duniway got Oregon ladies the right to vote eight years before the rest of America—there’s an elementary school, a park, and a hotel named after her to prove it. But there are so many other women who were kicking ass and taking names during Portland’s formative years. Here are a few who might be less familiar.

Marie equi  1872 1952  wikimedia commons no author nco5ti

Marie Equi

Dr. Marie Equi

Marie Equi was an out lesbian and abortion doctor a century ago, when both were technically criminal. An outspoken political activist, Equi aided fruit cannery strikers in 1913; during the strike she was arrested, stabbed a cop with her hat pin, and declared herself an anarchist.

Lilian Tingle

After settling in PDX in 1905, Lilian Tingle ran a cooking school, wrote the Oregonian’s cooking column for 20 years, started the home ec program for Portland Public Schools, and, backed by an army of housewives, led a national campaign to bring hygiene regulations to American supermarkets.

Beatrice cannady courtesy oregon history project jnbt4o

Beatrice Morrow Cannady

Beatrice Morrow Cannady

In 1922, Beatrice Morrow Cannady was one of the first black women to graduate law school in the country; within five years she succeeded in having some racist and discriminatory language removed from the Oregon Constitution. She also helped found the local chapter of the NAACP. 

Lucy Rose Mallory

The wife of congressman Rufus Mallory, Lucy Mallory was a vegetarian and spiritualist who wrote, edited, and published her own newspaper, The World’s Advance-Thought, from 1886 to 1918. Leo Tolstoy subscribed to it, calling her one of the world’s greatest thinkers.

Louise bryant wikimedia commons no author psgdxl

Louise Bryant

Louise Bryant

In the 1910s, journalist, illustrator, and suffragist Louise Bryant worked to gain American sympathy for the Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution ... after running off to Greenwich Village with Portland’s own socialist dreamboat Jack Reed. Diane Keaton played her in the 1981 film Reds.

Victoria (Wishikin) Wacheno Howard

Victoria Howard shared her grandmother’s Clackamas Chinook folklore with anthropologist Melville Jacobs in the 1920s. Her oral history gave us female-centric insights into the daily lives and beliefs of pre-Portland Native American women.

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