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March 2016

Celebrating International Women's Day!

March 8th marks the day we celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women across the world: International Women’s Day! According to the United Nations, International Women’s Day has been celebrated since the 1900’s.

The first National Women’s Day was observed in the United States on February 28th, 1909. That date was designated in honor of the 1908 garment workers’ strike in New York where women protested against working conditions.

In 1910, International Women’s Day was established to honor the women’s rights movement and to build support for achieving universal women’s suffrage. This proposal was greeted with unanimous approval from 100 women from 17 countries attending the Socialist International meeting in Copenhagen. However, during this time, no set date was selected for observance.

International Women’s Day was marked on March 19th in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland in 1911. Over one million men and women attended rallies on this day.

Between 1913-1914, International Women’s Day became a mechanism for protesting World War I. On the last Sunday of February, Russian women observed their first International Women’s Day as part of the peace movement. In Europe, around March 8th women held rallies to protest the war or to express solidarity with the other activists.

Women in Russia began to protest and strike for “Bread and Peace” on March 8th, 1917. Four days later, the Czar abdicated and women were granted the right to vote.


To celebrate International Women’s Day, we’d like to announce the event Shaping the Public Good: How Women Made History in the West, a book talk by Sue Armitage. This book talk will be presented at the First Unitarian Church in downtown Portland, in the Buchan Reception Room, on Tuesday, March 8th at 7p.m. Attendance is free.

Here is a short list of books you can read in observance of International Women's Day:

Shaping the Public Good by Sue ArmitageShaping the Public Good

In this lively survey of women as history-makers, Sue Armitage explores the story of women’s lives from the earliest inhabitants to yesterday’s newest migrants, told within the larger framework of the changing Pacific Northwest – Washington, Oregon, Idaho, western Montana, and British Columbia. Showcasing both the variety and commonality of women’s activities and values, Armitage provides an ongoing context for women’s lives and shows how their activism on behalf of families and communities has made our regional history. Shaping the Public Good’s narrative encompasses women of all races and ethnicities – the famous, the forgotten, and the women in between – and provides an accessible introduction for general readers and scholars alike.


Marie Equi by Michael HelquistMarie Equi

Marie Equi is a finely written, rigorously researched account of a woman of consequence, who one fellow-activist considered “the most interesting woman that ever lived in this state, certainly the most fascinating, colorful, and flamboyant.” This biography will engage anyone interested in Pacific Northwest history, women’s studies, the history of lesbian and gay rights, and the personal demands of political activism. It is the inspiring story of a singular woman who was not afraid to take risks, who refused to compromise her principles in the face of enormous opposition and adversity, and who paid a steep personal price for living by her convictions.



A Force for Change by Kimberly MangunA Force for Change

A Force for Change is the first full-length study of the life and work of Oregon’s most dynamic civil rights activists, African American journalist Beatrice Morrow Cannady. Between 1912 and 1936, Cannady tirelessly promoted interracial goodwill and fought segregation and discrimination. A Force for Change illuminates Cannady’s important role in advocating for better race relations in Oregon in the early decades of the twentieth century. It describes her encounters with the period’s leading black artists, editors, politicians, and intellectuals, including W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, A. Philip Randolph, Oscar De Priest, Roland Hayes, and James Weldon Johnson. It dispels the myth that African Americans played little part in Oregon’s history and enriches our understanding of the black experience in Oregon.


With Grit and By Grace

With Grit and By Grace by Betty Roberts with Gail Wells

With Grit and By Grace follows Betty Roberts’ rise from a Depression-era childhood on the Texas plains to become a teacher, lawyer, state legislator, candidate for governor, and eventually Oregon’s first woman Supreme Court Justice. In this memoir, Justice Roberts reflects on her role as a mother, wife, and political trailblazer. Her story is important to the history of women’s struggles to challenge prevailing stereotypes, but it is also a deeply personal story of a life sometimes stark, sometimes humorous, often exhausting, and always brightened with friendships and family.



Yours for Liberty written by Jean M. Ward and Elaine A. MaveetyYours for Liberty

Between 1871 and 1887, Duniway, a leader in the woman suffrage movement, chronicled this “true history” in the pages of The New Northwest, one of the few newspapers in the nation devoted to woman’s advancement. With its motto of “Free Speech, Free Press, Free People,” Duniway’s weekly reform journal aimed to expose and combat social injustice of all kinds. Yours for Liberty, the first published volume of Duniway’s writings from The New Northwest, provides a vivid portrait of this pioneering suffragist and her work. The collected essays, news reports, and editorial and travel correspondence reveal her strong, often controversial convictions. Together, the nearly three hundred selections chronicle a fascinating and turbulent era when traditional social attitudes and institutions were being challenged, both in the Pacific Northwest and across the nation.