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January 25, 2017

In a time of political and administrative change, we have taken the initiative to collect and recommend a group of books focusing on women in politics and tackling stereotypes placed upon them because of their gender. As a part of #awesomewomen, we would like to spread the love and knowledge of these powerful women with our readers.


For more information on each book, follow the link in the book titles.


Ava Helen Pauling

by Mina Carson

Ava Helen Pauling: activist for civil rights, anti-nuclear testing, peace, feminism, environmental stewardship, and wife of the famous Linus Pauling. Despite beginning her career in her husband’s shadow, she soon felt torn between her duties to her family and her passion in political causes--feminism.




A Force for ChangeA Force for Change

by Kimberley Mangun

African American journalist Beatrice Morrow Cannady was one of Oregon’s most dynamic civil rights activists. Between 1912 and 1936, Cannady tirelessly promoted interracial goodwill and fought segregation and discrimination. She was assistant editor, and later publisher, of The Advocate, Oregon’s largest African American newspaper. Cannady was the first black woman to graduate from law school in Oregon, and the first to run for state representative. A Force for Change illuminates Cannady’s role in advocating for better race relations and dispels the myth that African Americans played little part in Oregon’s history.

A Hunger for High Country

by Susan Marsh

Before the 1970’s, very few women were working for the United States Forest Service. However, because of new environmental and fair employment laws, Susan Marsh was hired on to the U.S. Forest Service around Yellowstone National Park. This was the first time women were being hired in the U.S. Forest Service as geologists, scientists, and biologists. Yet, what was thought to be her dream job became six years of frustration due to her inability to fit in, leading her to begin again in the mountains of western Wyoming.


Learning to Like Muktuk

by Penelope S. Easton

World War II veteran with a Masters in Public Health Nutrition, Penelope Easton journeyed to Territorial Alaska to work as the dietary consultant for the Alaskan Health Department. Taking this time to observe the effects of illness and disease epidemics, educational philosophies, and a scarcity of imported food supplies, Easton found herself fascinated by the food of the indigenous Alaskans, such as muktuk. Through her gained experiences, Easton advocated for the need of preserving native food customs.


Marie Equi

by Michael Helquist

Marie Equi, born in 1872, self-studied her way into medical school. After making the move to Portland, Oregon, she became licensed as one of the first practicing woman physicians in the Pacific Northwest. Alongside her medical work, Equi was active in the fight for women’s suffrage, labor rights and reproductive freedom, and became one of the first well-known lesbians in Oregon.


Naked in the Woods

by Margaret Grundstein

In 1970, Margaret Grundstein abandoned her Yale graduate degree in order to follow her husband, an Indonesian prince and activist, to a commune in the backwoods of Oregon. However, after being left by her husband for “freer love,” Grundstein was left with a choice. Would she be able to make it as a single woman in “man’s country?” Tensions rose and brotherhood became strained as food became scarce and lines were drawn over land ownership. Grundstein’s memoir illustrates the life of woman living during a period of rapid social change.


The Only Woman in the Room

by Norma Paulus with Gail Wells and Pat McCord Amacher

Norma Peterson Paulus was raised in Depression-era poverty in Eastern Oregon. Coming from a family of Democrats, she made the courageous move to switch parties, as she believed the Republicans were in politics for “all the right reasons.” She was soon appointed by Governor McCall to the Marion-Polk Boundary Commission in 1969, which helped launch her onto her path to Oregon House of Representatives in 1970. After three terms, in which time she took the reigns for environmental causes, women’s rights, and government transparency, she was elected as Oregon’s Secretary of State in 1976, not only as the first woman in this position, but the first woman in Oregon to be elected to a statewide office.


Remembering the Power of Words

by Avel Louise Gordly

Avel Gordly, the first African-American woman elected to the Oregon State Senate, gives an honest telling of Gordly’s life. As a black girl growing up in Portland in the 1950’s and 1960’s, she faced criticism for her ambition to attend college and her complete dedication to activism. Detailing the challenges faced in her decision to run for a seat in the state legislature. Gordly emphasizes the struggle of finding her voice in a time where her voice was denied.


Shaping the Public Good

by Sue Armitage

Drawing from the story of She Who Watches as a guide, Sue Armitage reveals the stories of women in the developing societies of the Pacific Northwest who created the history of our region. These women, of all races and ethnicities, were the guardians and active powers in the shaping of the public good, despite their inability to obtain positions of public authority.


Up the Capitol Steps

by Barbara Roberts

This memoir by Barbara Roberts surrounds the life of Oregon’s first woman governor. She began her mission of public service as an advocate for the rights of children with disabilities, eventually moving on to school board member, to legislator, to Secretary of State, and finally, Governor. With this memoir, readers are given the gripping details of hard policy decisions and Roberts’ personal ups and downs.


With Grit and By Grace

by Betty Roberts with Gail Wells

In the 1950’s, Betty Roberts took a step most often looked down upon by her contemporaries by going back to college at the age of 32, all while being a committed wife and mother. In this memoir, Roberts reflects on her experiences and struggles as she worked to break out of the prevailing stereotypes, working as a teacher and taking her career to be Oregon’s first woman Supreme Court Justice.


Yours for Liberty

by Jean M. Ward and Elaine A. Maveety

Between the years of 1871 and 1887, Abigail Scott Duniway stood as a leader in the woman suffrage movement and recorded the experiences and stories of the events that unfolded in The New Northwest--one of the only newspapers in the United States devoted to women’s advancement. Jean Ward and Elaine Maveety provide a selection of Duniway’s articles in this volume from her time as an editor, writer, and suffragist.

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