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Eleanor Baldwin and the Woman’s Point of View

New Thought Radicalism in Portland’s Progressive Era

Lawrence M. Lipin

6 × 9. 6 B&W photos/illustrations. Notes. Bibliography. Index. 272 pages.

2017. ISBN 978-0-87071-910-3. Paperback, $27.95.

Eleanor Baldwin and the Woman’s Point of View is an intellectual biography of a long-forgotten radical female journalist in Portland, whose daily women’s columns provide a window into the breadth of intellectual radicalism in Progressive Era journalism. Baldwin was one of an early generation of female journalists who were hired to lure female readers to the daily newspaper’s department store advertisements. Instead of catering to the demands of consumerism, Baldwin quickly brought an anti-capitalist, antiracist agenda to her column, “The Woman’s Point of View.” She eschewed household hints and instead focused on the immorality of capitalists and imperialists while emphasizing the need for women to become independent and productive citizens. 

 

A century before the Occupy movement and the Women’s March, Baldwin spoke truth to power. Imbued with a New Thought spirituality that presumed progressive thought could directly affect material reality, she wrote to move history forward. And yet, the trajectory of history proved as hard to forecast then as now.  While her personal story seems to embody a modern progressivism, blending abolition with labor reform and anti-banker activism—positions from which she never wavered—her path grew more complicated as times changed in the aftermath of World War I, when she would advocate on behalf of both the Bolsheviks and the Ku Klux Klan.

 

In this deeply researched and nuanced account of Eleanor Baldwin’s intellectual journey, historian Larry Lipin reveals how even the most dedicated radical can be overcome by unforeseen events. Eleanor Baldwin and the Woman’s Point of View restores a missing chapter in Portland’s Progressive Era history and rescues this passionate, intriguing, and quixotic character from undeserved obscurity.

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