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On behalf of the “Working Girls”

Life has never been easy, and when you were born as a woman you were already relinquished to the bottom half of society.

Abigail Adams, wife of President John Adams reminded her husband not to forget the women when they were setting up the United States of America. We gave black men the vote in 1870 and it was another 50 years before the 19th Amendment, and its two sentences: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.” So few words to say so much, and it took them so long to do it.

In the west women carried more power as a widow. States like Oregon allowed women full voting rights in the general election of 1912 and joined other Western states and territories in extending the vote to its female citizens providing crucial legitimacy to the woman’s suffrage movement nationally. I’m thankful to my grandmother Alma Shaw, born in 1893 for being among the first voting women who helped pave the path for us.

It breaks my heart to know the limits placed on women and to know that your chances for making an income were so limited that prostitution became one of the few choices for high incomes. Those working girls had to overcome a lot of obstacles and they help lay the foundations we built upon. I prefer to call them “working girls” because they had many skills and talents, they employed to help us climb the ladder of success.

We owe them gratitude and thanks that they paved the way so we can continue our journey for financial success and pay it forward by keeping their efforts relevant even today. It’s nice to see so many women involved in the Oregon-California Trails Association (OCTA), and our efforts are recognized in the many achievements we bring to the Pioneer History. It’s our job to pay it forward. Thank you, ladies!

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