About This Site

This depository is born of the conviction that the historical record is an on-going project. One of the many great services performed by feminist scholarship has been the recovery of women’s history: the characters, documents, and events that comprise a vital but oft-neglected part of the past. Our understanding of where we have been is richer, and our deliberations about where we should go more informed, because scholars have enlarged the body politic that “we” are.

About the Texts

Scott Duniway was a prolific writer and speaker with a wide range of interests. In addition to being a forceful advocate on a number of public issues, she was a practicing journalist, wrote novels, and even dabbled in poetry. Of necessity, this collection overlooks her literary works in favor of her didactic rhetorical efforts, principally her speeches.

My aim in assembling this collection has been inclusive. The newspapers of her day often reported Scott Duniway’s remarks with varying degrees of completeness and accuracy. I have excluded texts that are obviously paraphrased rather than quoted, and those, even if quoted, that are too brief to be very illuminating. But otherwise I have erred on the side of inclusion. Some texts are lengthy while others are brief; some are very formal while others are casual; some could be called major addresses while others are quite ephemeral; some are apparently complete texts while a few are fragments. Each is an important piece of the on-going project that is the historical record. In musical terms, this is not a “greatest hits” collection but as complete a record as I have been able to assemble.

Nonetheless, this is not a complete retrospective of the artist’s work. For one thing, Abigail delivered literally thousands of speeches over the course of her lifetime, the vast majority of which were extemporaneous, with no written record. For another, as if her career in the Pacific Northwest (especially in the suffrage campaigns in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho) wasn’t overwhelmingly extensive by itself, Scott Duniway also traveled widely across the country, lecturing and politicking for woman’s rights. The texts reproduced here come primarily from three locations, all in Oregon, where Scott Duniway lived most–but not all–of her adult life: the Oregon State Library; the Oregon Historical Society Research Library; and, most importantly, Abigail’s papers, which were in the possession of her grandson, David Cushing Duniway, when I first examined them and which now reside in Special Collections and University Archives at the University of Oregon Libraries. I have pursued leads for addresses given in places as distant as Nebraska, Minnesota, even Connecticut and New York. Nonetheless, there undoubtedly are records of as-yet-undiscovered speeches in newspapers and in historical and government archives throughout the land.

The introduction to this collection (About Scott Duniway) presents a rhetorical biography, that is, a concise summary of Scott Duniway’s life as a writer, a journalist, and a public speaker. I also analyze her basic rhetorical strategies and explain their persuasive import. This summary of her career as a public advocate is not meant to be a complete or definitive biography of Abigail Scott Duniway the person. Interested readers should consult the Works Cited and Scott Duniway Resources for more comprehensive treatments of her life.

In The Speeches, each text is preceded by a brief introduction that describes its historical context and identifies its source. Although also not intended as complete histories in themselves, these introductions should help readers situate each text in the larger flow of events. Thus, for example, while numerous texts concern woman suffrage, my focus remains on the texts themselves; readers should consult the Works Cited and Woman Suffrage Resources for further information on the suffrage movement generally.

Little, if anything, is known about a few of the texts published here. I include them in the interest of making Scott Duniway’s oeuvre available as comprehensively as possible. They are significant documents even if their story is not yet fully known.

Editorial Matters

Several of these documents have been edited, generally in Scott Duniway’s hand, which raises a number of issues. We do not know, for example, whether the editing occurred before or after the speech, or how closely the edited text reflects the speech that actually was delivered. In general, I have followed the revised version as the closest approximation of what Scott Duniway intended to say. However, sometimes there are important discrepancies between an initial and a revised text, or between different available versions of the same speech. In such cases,  I have marked discrepancies with symbols in the text and with footnotes. Guided by the conviction that what Scott Duniway eventually chose not to say is equally revealing, my goal in all cases has been to reproduce the most complete text(s) available.

I have corrected obvious misspellings and misprints without alerting the reader. However, aside from simple and clear errors (such as newspaper typesetting mistakes), I have been very cautious in altering the texts. Wherever anything less than a verbatim transcription would be at all controversial or misleading, I have demurred. Accuracy, even at the expense of some degree of readability, is of paramount importance when one is purporting to reproduce another’s words. In addition, that the texts sometimes contain errors of fact or grammar, for example, is not unimportant to an understanding of Abigail’s habits of speech-making. Moreover, readers interested in the stylistic aspects of her speeches–her language choices, the rhythm of her sentences, and so on–need to be able to distinguish the original from editorial interpolations. Hopefully, my methods of marking such textual details are not overly intrusive.  In any case, readers can judge for themselves by comparing each of my edited versions with the Original Texts.

Annotations appear in footnotes. When Scott Duniway refers to the same person more than once within a single speech, only the first mention is annotated. Often the relationship between the fame of a person or event and the length of my annotation is roughly inverse because readers can obtain further information about some easily but about others only with great difficulty. I have provided only the barest entry for Susan B. Anthony, for instance, but have told all I know about Julia Groner Marquam. Not wishing to patronize, I have annotated neither unusual words that have fallen out of common parlance since Abigail’s day, nor the many Biblical allusions that, no doubt, came to her effortlessly.

The fifty-four texts gathered here span forty-five years. Insofar as possible, they are arranged chronologically in order to indicate the directions in which Scott Duniway’s public advocacy developed.

Names and Naming

Rhetoricians long have known, and feminist critiques of language have re-emphasized, that names are powerful “terministic screens”1, shaping our understanding of the “reality” we experience. I refer to Abigail by both her birth and married names (Duniway was her husband, Ben) because to “know” this early feminist exclusively as a wife would be both ironic and troubling. Others commonly referred to her as “Mrs. Duniway” or “Mrs. D” but, by 1877, she was signing her newspaper columns “A.S.D.” and signing her name “Abigail Scott Duniway.”2 Scott Duniway believed that “a strong, sensible name is suggestive of competent, earnest endeavor, and that it stands in a certain sense for the intellect of the worker,” and she urged women to put aside “soft and silly names,” warning: “They are pretty when applied to childhood, appropriate enough when used to designate frivolous young women; but they fix upon intelligent, mature womanhood an attainder of weakness which brings upon it gross injustice.”3 As a girl she was called “Jenny” or, less commonly, “Abby.”4 The adult Abigail never would have stood for such diminutives. In this collection, other women’s names are given in the same manner, for the same reasons.

The name of this archive, “She Flies With Her Own Wings,” is quadruply fitting: the translation of the Latin, alis volat propriis, the motto of territorial Oregon5, it also was the slogan of her second major journalistic endeavor, the Pacific Empire, reflects her unwavering belief that Western suffragists should manage their own campaigns in their own way without Eastern interference, and remains as apt a description of Scott Duniway as there is.6


I am indebted to an army of librarians and researchers throughout the country, without whom this project could not have been realized. Most must go unnamed, but not unthanked. Joyce Toscan, Gabe Vincent, and their staffs at the University of Southern California obtained mountains of obscure materials via interlibrary loan. The entire staff at the Oregon Historical Society often seemed to know what I needed better than I did. For their permission to reproduce holdings in the Abigail Scott Duniway Papers, and their assistance in accessing these materials, I am indebted to Linda Long and others in Special Collections and University Archives at the University of Oregon. Special thanks to Kate Pieper for mining in Michigan, to Peter Andersen for sleuthing in San Diego, to Robert Trapp for securing materials in Salem, and to Marcia Dawkins and Francesca Smith for assistance with annotations. Drs. Karlyn Kohrs Campbell and Martha Watson provided invaluable feedback on this material in an earlier form. The generous support of the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California made this web project possible. The technical expertise and guidance of Wendy Chapman and Christopher Guitarte, and the additional assistance of Beth Boser, Shoko Hayashi Barnes, and Sasha Konovalova made it a reality.

David and Frannie Duniway’s generosity–with their memories of his grandmother, with her papers, and with their home–was overwhelming; my deepest regret about taking so long with this project is that they never saw the fruits of their kindness.

From my father, Rev. C. Vernon Lake, I inherited a love of reading, writing, and reflection. From my grandparents, Theodore and Edna Munson Bergman, I inherited a cabin on the North Shore, the best place on earth for these and other pursuits. Dr. Wilmer Linkugel, of the University of Kansas, who taught the first doctoral seminar in woman’s rights rhetoric in the United States, was profoundly influential; his doctoral dissertation (University of Wisconsin, 1960), on the speeches of Anna Howard Shaw, helped inspire and shape this project. Many remarkable women have influenced my life further: my mother, June Bergman Lake, the unconventional, independent pastor’s wife; my sister, Judith Lake Sheriff, up to whom I’ve always looked, even when scrapping; my college debate coach, Dr. Quincalee Brown, who brought feminism to life; Dr. Karlyn Kohrs Campbell (then of the University of Kansas, now of the University of Minnesota), who trained me as a scholar and critic, who introduced me to Scott Duniway just as she has introduced the field of rhetorical studies to so many other women, whose keen judgments continue to instruct, and whose strong-minded life and peerless career both inspire and intimidate; and my better half, Dr. Colleen Keough, without whom, not. After nearly twenty years in intermittent pursuit, to this group is added Abigail Jane Scott Duniway. This project is dedicated to them all.

Randall A. Lake


  1. Burke, Language 44-62. []
  2. Moynihan, Rebel 90 []
  3. New Northwest 5 Aug. 1886 []
  4. Dorothy Mansfield adopts the latter but I know of only two historical usages: (1) Abigail’s diary of the family’s overland journey to Oregon (82); and (2) Smith, Presumptuous 1: 259 [n. 9]. []
  5. Although generally accepted as the state motto for many years, it never was adopted by the state government (Corning 232). []
  6. Scott Duniway published her own newspaper, the New Northwest, from 1871 to 1887. The Pacific Empire was launched on August 16, 1895, by publisher Frances E. Gotshall; Scott Duniway was editor until September, 1897. In a letter to Gotshall, published on the front page of the inaugural issue, Scott Duniway wrote: “I like your motto, ‘She flies with her own wings.’ It is a glorious augury of what is to be. Just now it would, perhaps, be more appropriate to say, ‘she paddles her own canoe.’” The metaphor as descriptor of political strategy appears in Abigail’s speech to the Oregon State Equal Suffrage Association in 1897. []