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The All-Woman City Council of 1920

The state of Oregon extended the right to vote to women in 1912, eight years before the 19th Amendment guaranteed that right to all American women. In 1920, the small city of Yoncalla, Oregon, elected a woman mayor and put women in all the city council slots. They were prominent citizens already; some were the spouses of the incumbents they replaced. The municipal election became a sensation in the national press.

The story of the women spread: They had held secret meetings, in which they voiced frustration with the current administration. Upset by broken sidewalk planks and misaligned outhouses, they had hatched a plan to run for office themselves. And, because they were elected just two months after women in the United States received the right to vote, their new administration made headlines all the way to the East Coast. Most publications treated it like a coup d’état: “Campaign secretly organized,” Morning Oregonian declared; “Sex uprising in Yoncalla,” asserted The New York Times.

The real story behind the election of five women is murkier. Local sources believe that the previous council just gave up their part-time unpaid jobs to let the women give it a try. The women, who were used to unpaid work, set out to fix the town’s problems. Read about the all-woman Yoncalla city council at the Atlantic. -via Digg

(Image credit: Douglas County Museum)


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