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Notable Women of Portland

Uncovering forgotten women's stories and changing how history is taught in the state of Oregon

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About The Book

The story of Portland, Oregon, like much of history, has usually been told with a focus on male leaders. This book offers a reframing of Portland's history—starting from 10,000 years of Native American women, to pioneer women, to women of the Progressive Era, WWI, WWII, and post-war women, with additional chapters on Women in the Arts and Women in Politics. Many women made their mark and radically changed the Oregon frontier, including Native Americans Polly Johnson and Josette Nouette; pioneers Minerva Carter and Charlotte Terwilliger; doctors Marie Equi, Mary Priscilla Avery Sawtelle, and Bethina Owens-Adair; artists Eliza Barchus and Lily E. White; suffragists Abigail Scott Duniway, Hattie Redmond, and Eva Emery Dye; lawyer Mary Gysin Leonard; Air Force pilot Hazel Ying Lee; politicians Barbara Roberts and Margaret Carter; and authors Frances Fuller Victor, Beverly Cleary, Beatrice Morrow Cannady, Ursula Le Guin, and Jean Auel. These women, along with groups of women such as "Wendy the Welders," made Portland what it is today.


"[This] book shines the spotlight on women from all walks of life [showing] the scope of just how long and hard women have had to work to reach equality to men in many areas." 

Portland Tribune

"Prince and Schaffer have made a conscious effort to select a diverse range of women from different cultural heritages, ethnicities, and social classes... cover[ing] the suffrage movement, Oregon's 1849 black exclusion law, the Chinese Exclusion Act, civil rights, and women's roles before, during, and after the two World Wars...It's clear by the visually appealing layout and the breadth that Prince and Schaffer have done substantial research, and the result is a wonderful compendium for anyone interested in the history of women's contributions to Portland." 

Portland Book Review 

The authors' aim was "to do our part to mend the telling of Portland's history"...They draw attention to the lives of Native Americans and other women of color...The emphasis is on historical photographs, newspaper clippings, and other documents, which are accompanied by short captions...The authors are to be commended for their efforts to document the experiences of a diverse group of Portland women...This book deftly spotlights lesser-known figures from Portland's past.

Kirkus Reviews

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Presentations Throughout the State

The goal of this book is to change the way that history is taught in Oregon to include more women of color and more diverse stories. The authors have given over 60 lectures on notable women of history at: Oregon Historical Society, Portland State University, Marylhurst University, Oregon Council for Social Studies Conference, Portland Public Schools Social Studies Conference, American Association of University Women, Bonneville Power Administration, Goldman Sachs, Multnomah County Public Library, McMenamins History Pubs, Eugene Public Library, Astoria Public Library, Powell’s Bookstore, Rotary clubs, Architectural Heritage Center, Troutdale Historical Society, Daughters of the American Revolution, Oswego Heritage Council, Multnomah Athletic Club, and many other civic groups.

Throughout the state, people have been so excited to hear about the Native American stories that have been left out of previous histories, how Oregon got civil rights laws over a decade before the rest of the nation, how we were the 9th state in the nation to give women the right to vote, and how women played pivotal roles in these stories. There are many diverse stories to be told. We’re anxious to mend the telling of history by spreading the stories uncovered in Notable Women of Portland. We’re happy to schedule a slideshow lecture with your group/school! 

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Fulfilling New State Requirements

Right now, this book is the only resource helping teachers meet all four new state laws on the teaching of Native American history, Ethnic studies, and Holocaust studies.

Senate Bill 13 requires the teaching of Oregon’s tribal history. Oregon's Dept. of Education suggests looking to local tribes for curriculum. This becomes complicated in places like Portland where many tribes had a historical presence, including: Grand Ronde, Siletz, Warm Springs, and Umatilla. The Notable Women book looks at the history of the mostly Chinook-speaking people who had longhouses in Portland when Lewis and Clark arrived in 1805 and shows evidence of continual interactions between Native people and pioneers throughout Portland’s history. Teachers can refer to pages 7-16, 20, 27, 28-31, 52, 98-99, and 112 to teach this formerly overlooked history.


House Bill 2845 requires the teaching of Ethnic Studies, defined as: the histories and contributions of ethnic and social minorities, including people who are Alaskan, Native American, people of African, Asian, Pacific Island, Chicano, Latino, Middle Eastern and Jewish descent. The bill also covers social minorities, including women, people with disabilities, immigrants, refugees and people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. Senate Bill 739 clarifies that, "[t]he materials . . . shall include a balanced presentation of the relevant contributions to society by men and women of African-American, Hispanic, Native American, Asian-American and other racial groups in Oregon." The entire Notable Women book fulfills many aspects of these requirements. In addition to the Native-American content above, the book includes: African-American (18-19, 39, 43, 49, 60, 64, 66-67, 70, 74-75, 78, 82, 84-86, 107, 109, 114, 116, 121, 123, 125), Asian-American (33, 40, 52, 62-63, 88), Chicano/Latino (113), Jewish-American (24, 43, 88-90, 94, 96, 107, 114, 124), LGBT (46-47), and women’s histories (the whole book).

Senate Bill 664 requires teaching holocaust and genocide education. Great teaching resources are: Portland’s Holocaust Memorial in Washington Park, the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education, DVD-Holocaust: The Events and their Impact on Real People from the Shoah Foundation, Free Curriculum on Holocaust education from Facing History and Ourselves. Plus, teachers can use Notable Women to teach about Gert Boyle (CEO, Columbia Sportswear) and Mayor Vera Katz who both escaped Hitler and the Holocaust (pages 96, 114).

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About the Authors

Co-Authors Zadie Schaffer and Tracy Prince

Zadie Schaffer is a book author and public speaker for The History Press and tells the stories of overlooked women's histories, uncovered in Notable Women of Portland. Her goal is to change the way that history is taught in Oregon schools and to make sure these women get the recognition they deserve.

Dr. Tracy J. Prince is a professor in the American Indian Teacher Program at Portland State University and the author of several books, including Portland's Goose Hollow, Portland's Slabtown, Culture Wars in British Literature, and Notable Women of Portland. Her research focuses on race gender and social equity.

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