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America’s first female governor served in Oregon three years before women in the state gained the right to vote. But history has largely forgotten her. That wasn’t an accident.

Calling the America of the early 20th century a “man’s world” is an understatement.

In most of the country, women were not considered full citizens. The march toward women’s suffrage — and the rights that came with it — was slowly moving ahead. But setbacks were common.

In Oregon, women found themselves once again shut out of the larger political process. In the fall of 1908, the state’s male electorate dealt the suffragists one of the most resounding blows in their long battle for voting rights. Men overwhelmingly voted against granting suffrage to women. It was the movement’s fourth defeat since 1884.

Meanwhile, a young woman in the state’s capital was quietly making political history. On a Saturday morning in February 1909, Carolyn B. Shelton took a seat at the Oregon governor’s desk in Salem. She was the nation’s first female governor.

Read More on "The Governor Who Couldn't Vote" from Oregon Public Broadcast.



Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. It is bordered on its west by the Pacific Ocean, on its north by Washington, on its south by California, on its east by Idaho, and on its southeast by Nevada. The Columbia River delineates much of Oregon's northern boundary, and the Snake River delineates much of the eastern boundary. It is one of only three states of the contiguous United States to have a coastline on the Pacific Ocean.

Oregon was inhabited by many indigenous tribes before traders, explorers, and settlers arrived. An autonomous government was formed in the Oregon Country in 1843, the Oregon Territory was created in 1848, and Oregon became the 33rd state on February 14, 1859. Today, Oregon is the 9th largest and 27th most populous U.S. state. Its capital is Salem, the second most populous of its cities, with 160,614 residents (2013 estimate). With 609,456 residents (2013 estimate), Portland is the largest city in Oregon and ranks 29th in the U.S. Its metro population of 2,314,554 (2013 estimate) is 24th. The Willamette Valley in western Oregon is the state's most densely populated area, home to eight of the ten most populous cities.
(Read more at Wikipedia.com)

Per wikipedia's "History of Oregon":The history of Oregon, a U.S. state, may be considered in five eras: geologic history, inhabitation by native peoples, early exploration by Europeans (primarily fur traders), settlement by pioneers, and modern development. (click the above link to see the entire article)

The term "Oregon" may refer to:

  • Oregon Country, a large region explored by Americans and Britons (and
    generally known to Canadians as the Columbia District);
  • Oregon Territory, established by the United States two years after
    its sovereignty over the region was established by the Oregon Treaty; and
  • Oregon, a U.S. state since 1859

What is new on this site

22 May 2019 - Added address to Unclaimed Cremains (off site link) to the Oregon State Hospital aka Oregon Insane Asylum.

25 May 2018 - Counties available for adoption has been updated on the Counties Page

23 Feb 2018 Updated the Search Engine to pick up more information

22 Feb 2018 Added state wide WWII POWs from Oregon to Military page

15 Feb 2018 Added state wide Viet Nam Casualties to the Military Page.

09 Sept 2017 Link to article on the establishment of Astoria & the Pacific Fur Trade added to Fur Trade page.

07 Sept 2017 Links to historical fires added to History Page

Added 21 May 2017 new sources for land records to Maps page

Added Oregon State Insane Asylum, or Oregon State Hospital as it was known in later years.

Oregon Historical Maps

New links to Oregon History LinksHistorical events, and people who shaped Oregon

New resource: History Books you can read on your computer

Added new site to Other Links Page for Oregon Biographies Project

Expanded links in Military page

Expanded links in Fur Trade page

Are you a facebook Fanthumbs up? Check out the listing of US State Genealogy Network Groups

Need help? Want to adopt a county? Contact the State Coordinator if you are interested in a county. We have several available, click here for listing. Here are the Oregon Adoption Requirements

Jan Bony State Coordinator
W. David Samuelson Assistant State Coordinator

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Last updated: 3 October, 2019