The year 2012 marked a centennial for the state of Oregon – a truly historic victory in the lives of Oregon women in 1912 — suffrage, or the right to vote. Pioneers breaking down barriers in the cause of woman suffrage in Oregon included Susan B. Anthony, Dr. Esther Pohl Lovejoy, Abigail Scott Duniway, and Hattie Redmond, among many devoted others. As the rise of forces for suffrage continued, the United States Congress passed the 19th Amendment in June 1919. This was only the first step toward its final passage. The amendment required thirty-six states to ratify the amendment in order for it to be formally passed into law. After sustained toil and arduous efforts, Oregon became the twenty-fifth state to ratify the amendment. By August of 1920, a total of thirty-six states had ratified the 19th Amendment, the requisite number, enacting the amendment into law. August 2020 marks the centennial, the 100th anniversary, of woman suffrage in the United States and the enactment of the 19th Amendment into law.
The activism and leadership required for this feat are incomparable and immeasurable in our nation’s history. The level of sacrifice and the energy exerted in support of such a paramount cause as suffrage is reflected throughout its long history. Humanity is wrought with periods of crisis and victory; it is inherent and inseparable to our existence. The dawn of the struggle for suffrage in the 19th century reflected a sustained period of tests and trials, of determination and fortitude, and of ardent devotion. Perseverance ultimately remedies inaction; Oregon woman suffrage stood trial at the ballot box six times prior to its passing.
The common adage to study history so that it may not be repeated can be transmuted in acknowledgment of cycles of crisis and victory. It is of principal importance to turn to history in order to see triumphs in the face of adversity, to pay homage, and to extract tactics, be enlivened by the spirit, and to transform what has been learned for tests and trials today. There remains much to be learned, and there is much more still to be done.
The new Spotlight exhibit, Oregon Women Vote! Commemorating Woman Suffrage in Oregon and the U.S., honors and highlights the Oregon and national suffrage movements and the official enactment of the 19th Amendment into law. It examines the contributions of Abigail Scott Duniway and her contemporaries, contributions of women of color, racism in the suffrage movement, and the political influence of the Oregon Women’s Political Caucus and pivotal leader of Oregon politics, Gretchen Kafoury. Join us in memorializing this historic feat, one of many that have passed, and one of many still to come.
Written by Alexandra Mueller, Special Projects Archivist
Albrecht Dürer exemplified a mastery and uniqueness in his contribution to Italian art in the 15th and 16th centuries. Though Dürer excelled in varied mediums and forms of art, wood cutting emerged as his most deft and accomplished medium. Dürer’s proficiency in wood cutting flourished during his youth apprenticeship under artist Michael Wolgemut of Nuremberg, Germany. His carefully cultivated interest in art deviated from a long family lineage of working goldsmiths, though historically a deviation that proved largely influential in Italian art theory. Dürer’s most ingenious contributions were his keen analysis of the complexity of human proportions, and the application of mathematical and geometrical principles to reflect the human form in art. Inherent to Dürer’s artistic work of the human form was a philosophy of realism, starkly opposing the prevailing leaning towards idealism and perfection held by many of his contemporaries.
University of Oregon Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) recently acquired Della simmetria de i corpi humani, libri quattro by Albrecht Dürer and translated by Giovanni Paolo Gallucci. The work is subdivided into five parts, the first four of which are attributed to Dürer, and the fifth an addition by translator Gallucci, a collection of writings by Italian poets on topics related to human form in art. The first two books by Dürer portray technique for accurately representing the bodily proportions of humans in a variety of sizes, shapes, and ages. Dürer’s third book continues his exploration of mathematical principles and the direct relationship to human proportions. Building significantly on the mathematical principles and artistic explorations of books one, two, and three, Dürer’s fourth book invaluably links geometry and the human form in movement.
The copy of Della simmetria de i corpi humani, libri quattro by Albrecht Dürer and translated by Giovanni Paolo Gallucci acquired by SCUA is the Italian first edition and first issue published in 1591. The ownership of the book adds an interesting peculiarity and invaluableness to its condition; the specific copy, possessed by Giovanni Antonio Barca, contains annotations by the owner in his own preparation to publish on the subject. Barca drew from and manipulated the theories and work of Dürer, yet Barca did not include direct attribution to Dürer for intellectual contribution to his work. The influence, however, is undeniable.
-Written by Alexandra Mueller, Special Projects Archivist
Towards the end of the nineteenth century, burgeoning revolutionaries in book production, including William Morris, Sir Emery Walker, Thomas James Cobden-Sanderson, and C. H. St. John Hornby, perceived a degradation and lack of painstaking care and integrity in printing (Oxenbridge Press, n.d.). The sour taste of commercialistic practices led early visionary William Morris to implement bygone principles of veracity in the selection of materials and the application of quality techniques to produce beautiful books. William Morris set stone for a revitalization of book printing as one of the first prominent figures to emerge in the private press movement at the turn of the twentieth century. The private press allowed for detail and design to flourish, with an emphasis on typography, illumination, and binding practices, and several private presses responsible for producing distinguished historical typographies (Roylance, 1991).
William Morris’s Kelmscott Press of 1891 proved revolutionary; it served as a catalyst for the development of the prestigious related private presses of the Doves Press and the Ashendene Press (William Doyle Galleries, 2020). Morris and the Kelmscott Press prized the art of book printing, from procuring the finest materials, to creating intricate, decorative illuminations, to binding volumes precisely by hand (Roylance, 1991). The Kelmscott Press utilized the uniquely created Golden, Troy, and Chaucer typefaces in their publications. The Golden typeface was a Roman iteration, while Troy and Chaucer had roots in Gothic form (Peddie, 1915). Morris worked closely in partnership with Sir Emery Walker, a masterful typographer, in his creation of Golden. As the private press movement evolved, and Morris passed away, Walker joined forces with Thomas James Cobden-Sanderson to form the Doves Press. Cobden-Sanderson and Walker paired complementarily – Walker produced typefaces and other stylistic elements, and Cobden-Sanderson spearheaded the task of binding volumes. The Doves typeface appears with great notoriety in the printing of the Doves Bible, and whose form spawned from the Roman leanings of Nicolas Jenson, a shared influence to the Kelmscott Golden (Potter, 1938).
The Ashendene Press surfaced on the eve of the twentieth century, developed in 1894 by C. H. St. John Hornby who was a close follower and admirer of Morris (Roylance, 1991). Walker, once again a seemingly omnipresent and influential force in the purview of the private press, developed for Hornby a typeface so characteristic and inherent to the image of Ashendene that forever defined their publications. The Subiaco typeface stemmed from the Roman influences of Sweynheym and Pannartz, and is considered the shining element of the Ashendene Press’ folio printing of Dante. The Dante also claims elaborate illustrations collaboratively created by renowned artist C. M. Gere and woodcutter W. H. Hooper (Potter, 1938). Other remarkable folios produced by the Ashendene Press include Boccacio, Malory, Thucydides, and Spenser (William Doyle Galleries, 2020).
C. H. St. John Hornby operated the Ashendene Press for forty years, spanning from 1894 to 1935, with its home in Chelsea, England. Hornby and the Ashendene Press produced approximately sixty volumes during its tenure prior to the disbandment of the press after World War I (Roylance, 1991).
The social structure of Victorian England represented a chasm deep and wide separating the public and private sphere, one that women were forced to straddle uncomfortably and fought to bridge and to bind seamlessly. The private sphere was considered the realm of women, and the public sphere the realm of men. A unification of the two was discouraged, if not entirely avoided and feared. Emerging feminist activists attempted to eradicate the divisive nature of Victorian England society by championing women’s suffrage and the right to education and employment. A particular feminist, Emily Faithfull, keenly and astutely estimated the impact of gainful, fitful employment for women in elevating their status (Frawley, 1998). A close cohort of Emily Faithfull, Emily Davies, denounced the common justification for the oppression of women that asserts women inherently different than men. Davies instead declared “a deep and broad basis of likeness” between men and women, and believed “only good could come of enabling women to take a greater part in the intellectual and public life of men” (Schwartz, 2011, p. 674).
Emily Faithfull’s greatest conquest involved shattering hegemonic expectations of the sexes and breaking women into a sphere of the working world traditionally relegated to men, expertly done so with the novel development of a printing press owned and operated by women. The birth of the historical Victoria Press was closely knit to the pioneering women of the Society for Promoting the Employment of Women (SPEW), and to the women of the Langham Place Circle, an activist organization for the employment of women and a constituency of women editors and publishers of women’s periodicals. The women instrumental in the propagation of these activist organizations include Emily Faithfull, Jessie Boucherett, Bessie Rayner Parkes, and Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon (Robinson, 1996). In regard to the guiding principles of the activism of SPEW, the Langham Place Circle, and the Victoria Press, founder Emily Faithfull poignantly stated,
Our cry is not for work per se, but for fit work fitly paid. Time will work great changes in our traditional and conventional ideas on these points; and the question has, I believe, to be wrought out, rather than thought out – it must be solved by actual progress, however slow, rather than by written arguments, however specious. (Frawley, 1998, p. 87)
The Victoria Press produced publications that were “Conducted by Women,” an inscription often used by publishers to delineate a publication as produced primarily by women. Bessie Rayner Parkes of the Victoria Press and Langham Place Circle consulted close friend George Eliot about the nature of publishing, especially in reference to women. George Eliot replied, “It is a doctrine of Mr. Lewes’s, which I think recommends itself to one’s reason, that every new or renovated periodical should have a specialité – do something not yet done, fill up a gap, and so give people a motive for taking it . . . ” (Robinson, 1996, p. 159). Emily Faithfull and her cohorts embodied the words of George Eliot deeply, constructing a business and creating a product innovative and that filled a gap – the absence of the voice and presence of women in publishing and in the larger public sphere.
The selection of “Victoria” as the representative name of the printing press, and the use of “Victoria” in the titles of The Victoria Magazine and Victoria Regia, was by far no haphazard, half-baked choice. Emily Faithfull and the Victoria Press held Queen Victoria in high esteem, regarding her as an exemplar in the struggle to maintain domain in both the private and the public spheres (Frawley, 1998). The Victoria Press’ use of Queen Victoria’s namesake and the selection of content in the publications attracted her interest and procured her support. Queen Victoria named Emily Faithfull as “Printer and Publisher in Ordinary to Her Majesty” (Frawley, 1998, p. 93).
University of Oregon Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) acquired one of the Victoria Press’s earliest publications, the Victoria Regia. The Victoria Regia: A Volume of Original Contributions in Poetry and Prose was edited by Adelaide A. Proctor, a fellow member of the Langham Place Circle (Tusan, 2000). The volume is a compilation of a variety of literary works in many forms contributed by women and men, arranged with no special or preferential consideration. In truth to the Victoria Press’ mission and values, the Victoria Regia contained a tribute to Queen Victoria in the preface that extolled the Queen and served as a nod of appreciation to her support (Frawley, 1998).
Emily Faithfull and her cohorts created something so pioneering, so magical and transformative. For many women, the Victoria Press helped connect the private and public spheres of their lives, allowing habitation and fulfillment in both realms. The Victoria Press was vastly influential in promoting gainful, fitful employment for women on a grander scale. The Victoria Regia and other early works of the Victoria Press laid brickwork for the continued success of the all-woman printing press.
Frawley, M. (1998). The editor as advocate: Emily Faithfull and “The Victoria Magazine.” Victorian Periodicals Review, 31(1), 87-104. https://www.jstor.org/stable/20083055?seq=1
Robinson, S. C. (1996). “Amazed at our success”: The Langham Place Editors and the emergence of a feminist critical tradition. Victorian Periodicals Review, 29(2), 159-172. https://www.jstor.org/stable/20082917?seq=1
Schwartz, L. (2011). Feminist thinking on education in Victorian England. Oxford Review of Education, 37(5), 669-682. https://www.jstor.org/stable/23119462?seq=1
Tusan, M. E. (2000). ‘Not the ordinary Victorian charity’: The society for promoting the employment of women archive. History Workshop Journal, 49, 220-230. https://www.jstor.org/stable/4289669?seq=1
Written by Alexandra Mueller (Special Projects Archivist)
The antebellum period of the United States was harsh and biting, clothed in darkness by the perpetuation of the institution of slavery. The institution of slavery was nestled in the racial attitudes and political leanings of British colonists, attitudes and leanings that incubated a society prone to its development, where “slavery […] is a symptom of this political culture, rather than a cause” (Acharya et al., 2018, p. 106). Hubris provided a justification for the perpetuation of slavery. William Brownlow, a newspaper editor and post-Civil War governor of Tennessee, stated, “God always intended the relation of master and slave to exist,” and posited the church as an institution supportive of maintaining this arrangement (Acharya et al., 2018, p. 106). The deeply-rooted prejudices and racism driving the growth of a system of slavery in the States, and the arrogance to believe oneself as above the life and humanity of another, provide little mystery as to how a piece of paper with calligraphic printing could have the power to provide freedom, granted through manumission or other statements and affidavits, or to bequeath, trade, or sell African American slaves through wills and testaments.
University of Oregon Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) recently acquired an antebellum-era document, “Statement Attesting that a ‘Negro Woman’ is Free Born, Frederick County, MD, 1832.” The statement claims Charlotte Jaines of Frederick County, Maryland, is “free born.” It is of a collection of documents known as freedom papers – manumissions, statements, affidavits, etc. – proclaiming freedom to whom the document refers. The official declaration stated,
Maryland, Frederick County, to wit, on this 19th day of May 1832, before me the Subscriber and Justice of the Peace in and for said country, personally appeared David Harris and makes oath on the holy Evangely of Almighty God, that Charlotte Jaines the negro woman now in my presence is a free born, to the best of his knowledge. Sworn before George Rice.
Another recent acquisition of University of Oregon Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) from the antebellum period is “An Account of the Sales and the Real and Personal Estate of Henry Holeman Deceased.” Henry Holeman was a resident of Shelby County, Tennessee. Historically, the population of Shelby County had the one of the highest percentages of enslaved persons (35%) in the state of Tennessee, and heavily relied on slavery to support the economy (Acharya et al., 2018). Upon Holeman’s death, Holeman’s account, dated February 18, 1853, stated the recipients of eight slaves owned by Holeman and their respective prices, and settled matters of personal property, including approximately 270 acres of land (James E. Arsenault & Company, 2020).
These documents are illustrative of the harsh, biting history of slavery. To wade through the ugliness of history is as paramount of a task as the study of illuminating points of history. Converse, examine, dissect. Listen, carefully, and lead.
Special Collections and University Archives serves as a repository of historical materials, some of which may be considered prejudiced, stereotyped or offensive. Historical data is an important resource in the study of contemporary and past cultures. As such, we take seriously our responsibilities in preserving and cataloging such material and provide access for the purpose of scholarly research and study. See: SCUA Statement Regarding Objectionable Content
Acharya, A., Blackwell, M., & Sen, M. (2018). Deep roots: How slavery still shapes Southern politics. Princeton University Press.
James E. Arsenault & Company. (2020). The sale of eight named slaves in Tennessee. James E. Arsenault & Company. https://jamesarsenault.com
Written by Alexandra Mueller (Special Projects Archivist)