“It is hoped to aid the women who have the burden of hard work and have little time or opportunity to ameliorate their condition.” -Valentine Prichard, 1904
Valentine Prichard pioneered public health in Portland at the turn of the 20th century. In 1904, Prichard founded the People’s Institute, a settlement house, which helped poor women and children by teaching them valuable life skills and by giving them a place to gather and belong. The People’s Institute, soon after its inception, carried its mission further by opening Portland’s first Public Dispensary, or free medical clinic, for women and children. The clinic was later absorbed by the University of Oregon Medical School, and then again by Oregon Health Sciences University. Prichard played a seminal role in birthing health care and health care education, in our city. (more…)
Lora Little was a dedicated, vocal health reformer who deviated from conventional wisdom and went to battle in a seemingly hopeless crusade against Oregon’s establishment. Born Lora Williams in 1856, she spent her childhood in Waterville, Minnesota. Before becoming an activist she was a seamstress and a housewife. Her political ideas began to take shape in Minneapolis, Minnesota around the turn of the twentieth century. It was there that she published Crimes of the Cowpox Ring, which told of the devastating death of her only child, seven year old Kenneth. He died from an illness that resulted from a mandatory smallpox vaccination in 1896, which he was forced to get in order to enter public school. The publication detailed her strong opinions about vaccination and was the beginning of her role in the national movement against compulsory vaccinations. (more…)
A lucky few find their life’s passion early. This was true for Mariah Anne Taylor who learned at a young age that she found a sense of purpose and meaning in caring for others. Born in Texas, Taylor moved to Portland Oregon in 1946 as a young girl as one of ten children, the fifth in birth order. “Blessed with what they call a hyper-immune system,” she often helped care for her siblings whenever they became ill. The children received daily doses of medicines that Taylor calls “old southern home remedy,” which included cod liver oil, Black Draught, and castor oil. This early induction into treatment modes outside of traditional Western medicine was the foundation for Taylor’s interest in, and acceptance of, a wide variety of healing practices from different cultures. (more…)
Kathleen Saadat, an African-American lesbian activist has occupied many political positions and worked on many campaigns in Portland, Oregon. She has often been an organizer and board member for civil rights groups that work towards educating and enlightening the public about issues pertaining to the African-American community, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community, (LGBT), HIV/AIDS, people with lower incomes and women’s rights. Saadat’s goal is to “bring a unifying feminist perspective to all movements…for me, as a woman; it is all the same struggle.” (more…)
Beverly Cleary began her life in Oregon and went on to become one of the most well-known figures to emerge from Portland. Born in McMinnville, Oregon on April 12, 1916, Cleary moved as a young child to Portland, Oregon where she lived until she graduated from high school. As an author, Beverly Cleary has written over thirty-five children’s books, published in fourteen languages and sold in more than twenty countries. Many an adult can remember reading these books as children and many children today are re-discovering these same enduring tales. Beverly Cleary has sold over 90 million books, and none of her books have gone out of print during the fifty-nine years since she began writing.
On the fifth day of February 1923, Betty Roberts was born in Arkansas City, Kansas. She was the daughter of a disabled father and a mother who achieved a high school diploma, but had no other real training. Roberts became the third child of the family, with an older brother and a sister. Her mother supported the family working various jobs through government work programs during the Great Depression to make ends meet. Most of Roberts’ childhood was spent around her extended family in Wichita Falls, Texas. Some of her most influential memories come from working in her family’s small cotton field with relatives and a few “Negro” workers picking cotton. She grew up in a strict Southern Methodist family and remembers church as a central place for her activities. Reading material was sparse in her household with the two notable exceptions: a set of encyclopedias and the weekly Sunday Denver Post. Roberts graduated high school when she was sixteen and remembers being a fairly unremarkable student. (more…)
Marie B. Smith, the woman who would become the first female president of the Portland branch National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1949-1950, was born in the segregated town of Paris, Texas, April 1898. As the daughter of sharecroppers and the granddaughter of slaves, Marie lived with her grandmother after the untimely death of her mother. In order to make a better life for the young child her father had moved out West in the early 1900’s. At the age of twelve, Marie joined him after the death of her grandmother.
“Architecture is a great profession; women can make a unique contribution in architecture. I would encourage it,” stated Linda Barnes during a personal interview. Barnes is a founding partner of the largest women-owned architectural firm in the Pacific Northwest. In 1999, she was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects for her notable contributions to the innovation of the profession of architecture, and the living standards of people. Her contributions to architecture range widely from multi-family housing to parks and pavilions to civic institutional buildings and religious architecture. (more…)
As Bethenia Owens-Adair walked down the street of her hometown of Roseburg, Oregon, she could not help noticing the looks of bewilderment and disgust on the faces of her fellow townspeople. It was 1872, and she had just completed an autopsy on a deceased male—the first autopsy to be done by a woman in the history of Oregon. The other doctors of the community had invited her to attend the autopsy as a practical joke, but being the strong woman that she was, Owens-Adair took up their offer and handled it with ease. (more…)
In March 2003, Ursula K. Le Guin, world-renowned writer and poet, stands on the streets of downtown Portland, quietly passing out peace literature with other members of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. As war seems more and more inevitable, she is one person, standing with others; both the individual and the group helping to give voice by their presence to the possibility of peace. (more…)