Oregon's Doctor to the World

Esther Pohl Lovejoy and a Life in Activism

Kimberly Jensen

  • Published: July 2015
  • Subject Listing: History / Western History; Biography, Autobiography, and Memoir; Pacific Northwest / History
  • Bibliographic information: 464 pp., 40 illus., 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Contents

Esther Clayson Pohl Lovejoy, whose long life stretched from 1869 to 1967, challenged convention from the time she was a young girl. Her professional life began as one of Oregon's earliest women physicians, and her commitment to public health and medical relief took her into the international arena, where she was chair of the American Women's Hospitals after World War I and the first president of the Medical Women's International Association. Most disease, suffering, and death, she believed, were the result of wars and social and economic inequities, and she was determined to combat those conditions through organized action.

Lovejoy's early life and career in the Pacific Northwest gave her key experiences and strategies to use for what she termed "constructive resistance," the ability to take effective action against unjust power. She took a political and pragmatic approach to what she called "woman's big job"-achieving a full female citizenship-and emphasized the importance of votes for women. In this engaging biography, Kimberly Jensen tells the story of this important western woman, exploring her approach to politics, health, and society and her civic, economic, and medical activism.

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Kimberly Jensen is professor of history and gender studies at Western Oregon University and the author of Mobilizing Minerva: American Women in the First World War.

"Esther Lovejoy's life intersected with some of the most important currents of the twentieth century: feminism, the rise of companionate marriage, universal suffrage, governmental reform, migration, labor rights, public health, the professionalization of medical and social work, anti-militarism, and global citizenship. Jensen illuminates the life of this fascinating, important leader and ably demonstrates the centrality of Oregon and the western U.S. to these currents."
-Marjorie Feld, author of Lillian Wald: A Biography

"Oregon's Doctor to the World is cutting edge in its presentation of a transnational history of women's participation in international health care, and its early chapters deepen understanding of the Northwest and national woman suffrage movement and women's partisan activism. As a whole, this book creates a picture of almost a century of women's public activism."
-Melanie Gustafson, author of Women and the Republican Party, 1854-1924

Introduction Oregon's Doctor to the World
1. Lessons in Constructive Resistance
2. Becoming a Woman Physician
3. Golden Hopes for Family and Career
4. City Health and the Business of Women
5. Women, Politics, and Power
6. The First World War and Transnational Activism
7. Candidate Lovejoy and a Shopgirl's Rise
8. The Quay at Smyrna and Beyond
9. Feminist Transnational Activism and International Health
Conclusion A Legacy of Constructive Resistance

"Jensen offers a richly textured narrative of Lovejoy's remarkable life, opening a window into the worlds of Northwest timber country, Progressive Era Portland, and the medical profession during the early twentieth century. . . immensely valuable addition to the history of women, social reform, and medicine . . ."
-Marisa Chappell, Oregon Historical Quarterly, Summer 2013

""Jensen has unearthed an extraordinary level of detail about the life and work of Dr. Esther Pohl Lovejoy ...address[ing] a number of themes, including women in medicine, social justice, women's rights, politics, peace activism, public health, international health, and health activism."
-Susan Smith, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Fall 2013

""Kimberly Jensen has written an incredibly rich, exhaustively researched biography. A simple narrative chronology of this exceptional woman would alone be exciting to read. But Jenson gives us so much more."
-Barbara Winslow, Journal of American History, September 2013

""Kimberly Jensen sheds new light on the life of Esther Pohl Lovejoy, an Oregon activist whose legacy continues well beyond the campaign for suffrage."
-Ben Waterhouse, Oregon Humanities, Summer 2013

". . . a vivid biography of the pioneering physician and activist Esther Pohl Lovejoy. Jensen does an excellent job of bringing to life the story of Esther Pohl Lovejoy. Jensen's writing is approachable for undergraduates as well as graduates."
-Cody Stanley, Pacific Northwest Quarterly, Summer 2012

"A story of inspiration, courage, and leadership- a worthy read for anyone interested in the history of women in medicine."
-American Medical Women's Association News Flash, December 2012

"Brings to life an overlooked leader in Portland's history."
-Steve Law, Portland Tribune, October 2012