NW Life | Oregon | Oregon Historical Photo Of The Week

Oregon Historical Photo: Women Workers

OPB | July 7, 2014 11:30 a.m. | Updated: July 11, 2014 8:44 a.m.

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Women working in factories made just 45 cents a day for long hours and sometimes dangerous work.

Women working in factories made just 45 cents a day for long hours and sometimes dangerous work.

Courtesy of Oregon Historical Society/Photo File 1131-B

Every week, Oregon Experience shares a photo highlighting the state’s diverse, exciting history. All photos are courtesy of The Oregon Historical Society.

At the turn of the 20th century, the fight for women to get the vote was gaining momentum across the U.S. Washington, California and Idaho had passed the vote for women by 1911. By 1912, Oregon was the only state in the Pacific Northwest where women did not have the right to vote.

One of the many motivations behind the women’s suffrage movement was the regulation of public health and safety.

In the summer of 1912, Oregon social worker Caroline Gleason went undercover to investigate working conditions for women. She gathered information from more than 8,000 women across 25 cities for her report.  

Gleason found that women had to work long hours in noisy and dangerous environments for small fractions of what their male counterparts were making.  Some women earned as little as 45 cents a day.

In November 1912, women won the right to vote in Oregon. Shortly thereafter, Gleason worked to help create the first minimum wage law in the country.

To learn more about the women’s suffrage movement in Oregon, watch the Oregon Experience documentary “The Suffragists.”

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