Women's History Bios

Beverly Cleary is an award winning writer of children's books and young adult fiction. Born in McMinnville, OR her family moved to the Grant Park neighborhood in northeast Portland when she was six years old. The area would be the setting for most of her books and is the site of a K-8 school that bears her name. She won the National Book Award in 1981 for 'Ramona and Her Mother' and the Newberry Medal in 1984 for 'Dear Mr. Henshaw'.

Gladys McCoy was a politician and public servant in Portland, OR. In 1970 she was elected to the board of Portland Public Schools, making her the first African American elected to public office in Oregon. She served on the school board until 1978 when she was elected to the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners. She served as commissioner until 1984 and was then elected county chair in 1986, where she served until her death in 1993. McCoy Park in North Portland is named after Gladys and her husband Bill, who served in the Oregon Senate.

Susan Castillo - 1997: Susan Castillo is the first Latina in the Oregon legislature representing Lane County in the Senate from 1997 to 2002, Susan Castillo was the first Latina elected to the Oregon State Legislature and the first to hold statewide elected office as superintendent of public instruction

Mary Leonard - In 1886, Mary Gysin Leonard was the first woman admitted to the bar in Oregon, at a time when women had not yet been granted the right to vote in the state. She persevered in her fight to gain the right for women to practice law in the state, despite social and legal obstacles.

Marie Equi - Dr. Marie Equi was a fiercely independent Oregon physician who was engaged in the political turmoil and social change of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She was a fearless advocate for woman's suffrage, labor rights, and free speech, and her raucous protests against imperialism and war gave her a reputation in Portland as one of the most outspoken agitators in town

Mercedes Deiz - 1960: Mercedes Deiz becomes first African American woman lawyer admitted to the Oregon bar. In 1969 she becomes the first African American woman appointed a district court judge.

Catherine Wagner – Catherine Wagner was the mother of Haus staff member Jennifer. She was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and loved living there her whole life. She was practical, hard working, and honest. She loved the beach, office supplies, The Wizard of Oz, and frogs. She was a single parent and and wanted most of all to provide a safe, stable, loving home for her daughter. She passed away in 2014. 

Margaret Carter - Margaret Carter is an educator and politician from Portland, OR. Margaret began her career as a counselor at Portland Community College in 1973 after earning her masters of education in psychology from Oregon State University. In 1984 she successfully ran for election to the Oregon House of Representatives, becoming the first African American woman elected to the Oregon legislature. Representing district 18 in northeast Portland, she passed legislation that recognized Martin Luther King Jr's birthday as an official state holiday. She pursued an education focused agenda and advocated for skills training centers and summer programs for children throughout the state of Oregon. After her tenure in the house ended in 1997 due to term limits Margaret successfully ran for Oregon senate in 2000 where she served until 2009

Norma Paulus - is an American lawyer and politician in the state of Oregon. A native of Nebraska, she was raised in Eastern Oregon before becoming a lawyer. A Republican, she first held political office as a representative in the Oregon House of Representatives, and then became the first woman elected to statewide public office in Oregon when she became Oregon Secretary of State in 1977.

Lola Greene Baldwin - Oregon’s and the nation’s first female police officer, 1908.On April 1, 1908, Portland Mayor Harry Lane administered the police oath to forty-eighty-year-old Lola Greene Baldwin, the first woman hired under civil service rules in the United States as a full time paid law enforcement officer.

Ursula K. Le Guin - Ursula K. Le Guin, one of Oregon’s preeminent writers, was born Ursula Kroeber in 1929 in Berkeley, California, the youngest and only girl in a family of four children. Her parents were Alfred Kroeber, a prominent and influential American anthropologist, and the writer Theodora Kroeber, widely known for her accounts of Ishi, the last member of the Yahi tribe in California.

Betty Roberts - 1982: Betty Roberts becomes the first woman on the Oregon Supreme Court. Betty Roberts was a thirty-two-year-old housewife with four children when she went back to college in 1955. Her decision went against the wishes of her banker husband and the conventions of 1950s society. That marriage did not last, but Roberts’s step toward independence bore abundant fruit, putting her on the path to a long career in Oregon law and politics. She broke two significant gender barriers, becoming the first woman to serve on both the Oregon Court of Appeals and the Oregon Supreme Court.

Abigail Scott Duniway - 1871–1887: Abigail Scott Duniway publishes The New Northwest, a women’s rights newspaper. Outspoken and often controversial, Abigail Scott Duniway is remembered as Oregon's "Mother of Equal Suffrage" and "the pioneer Woman Suffragist of the great Northwest." As lecturer, organizer, writer, and editor, Duniway devoted over forty years to the cause of women's rights.

Amelia Stewart Knight –Starting from Monroe County, Iowa on April 9, 1853 Amelia Stewart Knight, her husband and seven children traveled the Oregon Trail searching for a new home in the Pacific Northwest. Amelia was pregnant during the difficult trip and kept a diary of her travels that are a valuable resource for understanding what life was like at that time