A Bibliography of Regional Women's History

Article excerpt

FROM THE STUDIES published in women's history in the wake of the women's movements of the 1960s to this volume commemorating the history of Oregon women and citizenship, scholars have been engaged in the creation of a history of women at the global, national, regional, and local levels. Historians of women periodically consider the state of the field and assess our collective progress. (1) In her 2001 review, historian Karen J. Blair found that most research and writing concerning the history of Pacific Northwest women had concentrated in four major topical areas: female Protestant missionaries, pioneer Euro-American women, Native women, and women's clubs and their activities. Women and education and women and wage work, she noted, had received some attention but needed much more. And she found a great deal of work to do in the history of women in politics, radical women, minority women, women activists, and women's lives after World War II. "A staggering amount of scholarly investigation needs to be carried out," she noted, "before even a simple account of Pacific Northwest women's history can be devised." She concluded with confidence that scholars working steadily to locate primary sources and use those already available with creativity "will soon yield creative and sophisticated analyses of women's history in this region." (2)

Eleven years have passed since Blair's 2001 review, and we may now revisit her categories of analysis to assess the state of Oregon women's history. As the following bibliography demonstrates, we have made important strides, particularly in women's political history. The path before us is clear, however, as there is still much work to do. Recent scholarship usefully complicates our understanding of women's political activism in suffrage, citizenship, and office holding. As we find additional ways to incorporate analyses of women of color, lesbians, and women in regions of the state less-commonly studied, we must continue to complete the writing of this important history.

Elsewhere in this volume, I've called for the creation of a 2012 Coalition to mirror the successful activism of the coalitions that helped bring a woman suffrage victory in 1912. As part of that new activism, we can encourage Oregonians to search their attics and donate materials to archives and to consider their own records and the records of their organizations as vital parts of the history of women in the state. We must also draw on the theoretical and methodological work of our colleagues who examine women's history in the Pacific Northwest and the West, historians of women in the United States, and those engaged in transnational women's history. As we rewrite the narrative of our state's past, we can attend to the ways Oregon women have shared experiences with other communities but also highlight the unique aspects of Oregon women's experiences--Oregon's donation land claim law, suffrage achieved for most women in 1912, labor laws limiting hours and creating minimum wages, and the state's experience with women's jury service, to name just a few. We are well on our way to making Oregon history women's history.


Blair, Karen J. Northwest Women: An Annotated Bibliography of Sources on the History of Oregon and Washington Women, 1787-1970. Pullman: Washington State University Press, 1997.

City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. "Women's History of Portland and Oregon: A Select Bibliography." Historic Resources Research Guide No. 4. Available online at http://www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/ article/146274.

Leasher, Evelyn M. Oregon Women: A Bio-Bibliography. Issue 18 of Bibliographic Series. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 1980. Available online at http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/xmlui/handle/1957/21952.

Oregon Historical Society. "Readings Women's History." Available online at http://www.ohs.org/education/focus/readings-womens-history. …