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 Featured Title
Shaping the Public Good
Women Making History in the Pacific Northwest
Sue Armitage  

$25.95 Paperback
Release Date: 10/15/2015
ISBN: 9780870718168    

352 Pages

Distributed for Oregon State University Press


About the Book

Carved into a rock overlooking the Columbia River stands the arresting image of Tsagaglalal, or "She Who Watches," an ancient female chief. As the Wishram people recount, when men replaced women in positions of power, Tsagaglalal was turned to stone by Coyote so that she could forever guide her community and guard its development.

Using the story of She Who Watches as her guide, historian Sue Armitage shows that even though women were barred from positions of public authority until recently, they have always worked quietly and informally to assure the stability and security of their families and communities. Women’s community-building and cooperative skills have been decisive in developing the societies of the Pacific Northwest - Washington, Oregon, Idaho, western Montana, and British Columbia. Like She Who Watches, women have never been mere observers, but watchful guardians and active shapers of the public good.

Drawing on her three decades of research and teaching and based on hundreds of secondary sources, Armitage’s account explores the varied ways in which, beginning in the earliest times and continuing to the present, women of all races and ethnicities have made the history of our region. An accessible introduction for general readers and scholars alike, Shaping the Public Good restores a missing piece of Pacific Northwest history by demonstrating the part that women - the famous, the forgotten, and all the women in between - have always played in establishing their families and building communities.

About the Author(s)

Sue Armitage is Emerita Professor of History and Women’s Studies at Washington State University in Pullman, where she taught and wrote about women in the U.S. West for thirty years. She is coeditor of three collections of work by and about western women, most recently, Writing the Range: Race, Class, and Gender in the Women’s West. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

Table of Contents


1: First Women 10,000 BCE-1770's

2: Between Worlds: Métis and Missionary Women 1780s-1840s

3: A Shared Venture 1840s-1860s

4: Invaders 1850s-1880s

5: Civilizers 1860s-1870s

6: Women Together, Women Apart 1880s-1890s

7: Bold Spirits 1890s-1920

8: Crosscurrents 1916-1929

9: Home Fires 1930-1945

10: Cold War Country 1950s

11: The Noisy and Quiet Revolutions 1960s-1980s

12: This Land We Call Home 1990s-2010s



"This history of the Pacific Northwest is written with a clarity that never oversimplifies the complex, and a fair-mindedness, a sense of justice, that is very rare. Nothing I've ever read about the region and its peoples has ever offered so true a perspective on it - or been so unflaggingly interesting."
-Ursula K. Le Guin

"Be forewarned if you've succumbed to the myth that it was he-men who developed the Pacific Northwest. Now the trappers, loggers, miners, cattlemen, and railroad builders must make room for the many women, of every race and ethnicity, who contributed. Armitage puts faces on the interpreters, homesteaders, journalists, lobbyists, activists, schoolteachers, and Rosie the Riveteres who populated the region."
-Karen Blair, editor of Women in Pacific Northwest History

"This is a deft and masterful incorporation of a thousand facts into a polished, readable, and necessary story not just about women's history, but the history of everyone who lives in the Northwest."
-Alan Contreras, author of Pursuit of Happiness: An Introduction to the Libertarian Ethos of Charles Erskine Scott Wood

Sample Chapter

A sample chapter of this title is not available at this time. For further information, please email

Related Topics

Women's Studies

Other Ways To Order

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