First Advisor

Michael Passi

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in History






Women -- Oregon -- Portland -- History, Women -- Social conditions



Physical Description

1 online resource (127 pages)


The primary objective of this study is to find, statistically, how the women of Portland lived out their lives. By exploring the role of ethnicity, work and family, and the inter-relationships of these variables, upon their life choices, it is hoped a picture of women will result that can be used as a base for further interpretations on the community of women and the role they play in society.

The study is based on data gathered from the Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Federal Manuscript Census Schedules for the city of Portland and East Portland and utilizes a sample of 8,012 women, aged fifteen years or older, comprising the entire adult female population of the city during the census years of 1860, 1870 and 1880. The information coded for each woman includes age, marital status, ethnicity, occupation, whether or not she was head of a household, the number of children present in the home, her husband's ethnicity and a rough categorization of his occupation, the type of family residence. The data was then interpreted using a simple cross-variable program.

The introduction sets the theoretical framework for the study and places it in the historiography of women and the family. Chapter I is a brief survey of the community of Portland and the development of its various institutions to use as a backdrop for the general statistical picture of women developed in Chapter II. The differences apparent in the various ethnic groups and changes over the three census periods for marital status, and intermarriage tendencies are investigated in Chapter III, and Chapter IV deals with family structure. Chapter V covers general work trends for women, cites several of the larger occupational cohorts and compares Portland's female labor force to several other urban areas for 1880.

Appendix A is an explanation of the methodology employed and some of the problems encountered in the study. Appendix B is the entire collection of charts extrapolated from the data by the program used. It should be noted that all of the data was not utilized in this study, and even more information can be gotten from the data by the use of a more sophisticated program. The author hopes to rework the data at a later date for a more in-depth study.


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