OCTOBER 22, 1834–OCTOBER 11, 1915
Abigail Scott Duniway was born in Tazewell County, Illinois, in 1834. She was an author, newspaper publisher, and women’s rights activist. In 1852, her family joined thousands of others traveling west on the Oregon Trail before eventually settling in Lafayette, Oregon. At that time, Oregon was considered a US territory—the United States had already unfairly claimed the land that had long been lived on by Indigenous peoples as its own, but had not yet admitted Oregon as a state.
After writing a novel in 1859 based on her travels, Duniway opened a women’s hat shop. Her customers often spoke of the unjust treatment they had experienced because they were women, and Duniway was inspired to become a women’s rights activist. In 1871, she founded a pro-suffrage newspaper, The New Northwest. Her brother, Harvey Scott, edited another prominent Oregon newspaper, The Oregonian, that was explicitly anti-suffrage. The two siblings often advocated for directly opposing causes, and Harvey’s work delayed women’s suffrage in Oregon. Duniway founded the Oregon Equal Suffrage Association in 1873 and became vice president of the National Woman Suffrage Association
After over 40 years of Duniway’s work as an activist, Oregon granted women the right to vote in 1912. Duniway became the first registered woman voter in Oregon. She died in 1915 at age 80.
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