Abigail Scott Duniway
Duniway registering to vote, 14 February 1913, with Multnomah County Clerk John B. Coffey
Abigail Jane Scott

(1834-10-22)October 22, 1834
farm near Groveland, Illinois, U.S.
DiedOctober 11, 1915(1915-10-11) (aged 80)
Resting placeRiver View Cemetery in Portland
45°27′29″N 122°40′01″W / 45.45806°N 122.66694°W / 45.45806; -122.66694[1]
Known forWomen's suffrage leadership, writing, journalism, pioneer farming
SpouseBenjamin Charles Duniway
Parent(s)John Tucker Scott and Ann (Roelofson) Scott
RelativesHarvey W. Scott, brother; Catherine Amanda Coburn, sister

Abigail Scott Duniway (October 22, 1834 – October 11, 1915) was an American women's rights advocate, newspaper editor and writer, whose efforts were instrumental in gaining voting rights for women in the United States.

Duniway (seated) with Governor Oswald West, signing the women's suffrage amendment

Abigail S. Duniway was born Abigail Jane Scott near Groveland, Illinois, to John Tucker Scott and Anne Roelofson Scott. Of the nine children in her family who survived infancy, she was the second. She grew up on the family farm and attended a local school intermittently. In March 1852, against the wishes of Anne Scott, who had concerns about her health, John organized a party of 30 people and 5 ox-drawn wagons to emigrate to Oregon, 2,400 miles (3,900 km) away by trail. Anne died of cholera near Fort Laramie, on the Oregon Trail, in June, and Willie, age 3, the youngest child in the family, died in August along the Burnt River in Oregon. In October, the emigrants reached their destination, Lafayette, in the Willamette Valley. After teaching school in Eola in early 1853, Abigail Scott Duniway married Benjamin Charles Duniway, a farmer from Illinois, on August 1. They had six children: Clara Belle (b. 1854), Willis Scott (1856), Hubert (1859), Wilkie Collins (1861), Clyde Augustus (1866), and Ralph Roelofson (1869).[2]

The Duniways farmed in Clackamas County until 1857, when they moved to a farm near Lafayette. They lost this second farm after a friend defaulted on a note Benjamin had endorsed. Soon afterward, Benjamin was permanently disabled in an accident involving a runaway team, and Abigail had to support the family.[3] At first, she opened and ran a small boarding school in Lafayette. In 1866, she moved to Albany where she taught in a private school for a year, then opened a millinery and notions shop, which she ran for five years. Angered by stories of injustice and mistreatment relayed to her by married patrons of her shop, and encouraged by Benjamin, she moved to Portland in 1871 to found The New Northwest, a weekly newspaper devoted to women's rights, including suffrage. She published the first issue on May 5, 1871, and continued The New Northwest for 16 years.[2][4][5]

Before addressing the Oregon legislature, Abigail Scott Duniway toured the Pacific Northwest in the company of the famous Susan B. Anthony one of the leading voices in the Women's Suffrage movement. In 1872 she was invited to address Oregon's legislature to put forward the case for women's suffrage. She was appearing on behalf of the Oregon State Woman Suffrage Association but no one wanted to keep her company. Other women feared what their husband's and others might say. Finally she found Dr Mary Sawtelle who agreed to also venture into this male only preserve.[6] Duniway encountered personal setbacks such as poor health and money problems. Her brother Harvey W. Scott, who also edited The Oregonian and later contributed to The New Northwest, opposed woman suffrage in many editorials on the subject. She persisted despite political opposition in the form of local resistance, the consistent failure of women's suffrage referendums on state ballots, and divisions with Eastern suffrage organizations. She and her newspaper actively supported the Sole Trader Bill and the Married Women's Property Act which, when passed, gave Oregon women the right to own and control property.

Her persistence paid off in 1912 when Oregon became the seventh state in the U.S. to pass a women's suffrage amendment.[7] Governor Oswald West asked her to write and sign the equal suffrage proclamation.[8] She was the first woman to register to vote in Multnomah County.[8]

Duniway is buried at River View Cemetery in Portland.[2]


Duniway between 1870 and 1900

Duniway's Captain Gray's Company; or, Crossing the Plains and Living in Oregon (1859), was the first novel to be commercially published in Oregon.[9] This and others that she wrote drew repeatedly on her experiences as a young woman on the Oregon Trail.[9] Her last novel to tell the story was From the West to the West: Across the Plains to Oregon (1905).[9] She wrote a booklet called My Musings after attending a convention of the National Woman Suffrage Association in 1872. Her last publication was Path Breaking: An Autobiographical History of the Equal Suffrage Movement in Pacific Coast States, in 1914.[10]

An engraving of Duniway in the middle of her career. Her signature appears below the engraving.

Works written by Duniway and published by others:[11]

Serialized novels written by Duniway and published in the New Northwest:[11]

Serialized novels written by Duniway and published in The Pacific Empire:[12]


  1. ^ "Riverview Cemetery". Geographic Names Information System (GNIS). United States Geological Survey. November 28, 1980. Retrieved July 6, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c Johnson, p. 531–33
  3. ^ Groff, Frances A. (August 1911). "A Woman Pathfinder". Sunset Magazine. August 1911: 162–165 – via Internet Archive.
  4. ^ Leonard, John W. (1976). Woman's who's who of America: a biographical dictionary of contemporary women of the United States and Canada, 1914-1915. Rutgers University Libraries. New York, American Commonwealth Co. Detroit, Gale Research Co. p. 262.
  5. ^ Schwantes, Carlos (1996). The Pacific Northwest: An Interpretive History (Enlarged and Revised ed.). Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press. p. 163. ISBN 0-8032-9228-7.
  6. ^ "78" . The Souvenir of Western Women – via Wikisource.
  7. ^ Moynihan, p. xiv
  8. ^ a b Moynihan, p. 216
  9. ^ a b c Shein, pp. 11–12
  10. ^ a b Duniway, Abigail Scott (1971). Path breaking; an autobiographical history of the equal suffrage movement in Pacific Coast States. University of California. [Portland, Or., James, Kerns & Abbot co., 1914]; New York, Kraus Reprint.
  11. ^ a b Moynihan, pp. 257–58
  12. ^ Shein, pp. 37; 49–50