Abigail Scott Duniway

Picture of Abigail Scott Duniway

Biographical Information

Abigail Jane Scott was born in 1834 and raised on a family farm near Groveland, Illinois. Her parents, John Tucker Scott and Anne Roelofson, led the family on the Oregon Trail in 1852. Tragically, her mother and youngest brother died along the route. Abigail, age 17, recorded the difficult crossing in her journal. She taught school in Cincinnati (Eola), Oregon before marrying Benjamin C. Duniway in 1853. Her husband's crippling accident in 1862 required Abigail to provide the sole support for her family, which included several children. She responded by teaching school and operating a women's hat shop in Albany, Oregon for several years. The experience heightened Duniway's awareness of the legal inequalities endured by women. The Duniway family moved to Portland in 1871 after Benjamin accepted a job at the U.S. Customs Service. Abigail began publishing the New Northwest, a weekly newspaper that ran from 1871 to 1887 and demanded equal rights for women. In 1873 she helped found the Oregon State Women Suffrage Association. Duniway lectured regularly around the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere. Her efforts as leader of the campaign for women's voting rights in the region helped women get the vote in Idaho in 1896 and Washington in 1910. In Oregon Abigail's campaign for women's voting rights came to fruition with the signing of the Equal Suffrage Proclamation on Nov. 30, 1912. Interestingly, Abigail's brother, Harvey W. Scott, publisher of the Portland Oregonian newspaper, was an outspoken opponent of women's suffrage. Duniway died in 1915.

Books and Articles

Duniway's 1859 novel Captain Gray's Company, or Crossing the Plains and Living in Oregon was the first to be commercially published in Oregon. This book was inspired by diaries she kept while traveling the Oregon Trail as a young woman. 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.

Links to Further Information

Oregon Public Broadcasting - The Oregon Experience - Abigail Scott Duniway

Duniway's Serialized Novels - Oregon Public Broadcasting

The Diary of Abigail Scott Duniway - University of Oregon Library