About the Book
Named a 2016 Stonewall Honor Book by the American Library Association, Marie Equi explores the fiercely independent life of an extraordinary woman. Born of Italian-Irish parents in 1872, Marie Equi endured childhood labor in a gritty Massachusetts textile mill before fleeing to an Oregon homestead with her first longtime woman companion, who described her as impulsive, earnest, and kind-hearted. These traits, along with courage, stubborn resolve, and a passion for justice, propelled Equi through an unparalleled life journey.
Equi self-studied her way into a San Francisco medical school and then obtained her license in Portland to become one of the first practicing woman physicians in the Pacific Northwest. From Pendleton, Portland, Seattle and beyond to Boston and San Francisco, she leveraged her professional status to fight for woman suffrage, labor rights, and reproductive freedom. She mounted soapboxes, fought with police, and spent a night in jail with birth control advocate Margaret Sanger. Equi marched so often with unemployed men that the media referred to them as her army. She battled for economic justice at every turn and protested the U.S. entry into World War I, leading to a conviction for sedition and a three-year sentence in San Quentin. Breaking boundaries in all facets of life, she became the first well-known lesbian in Oregon, and her same-sex affairs figured prominently in a U.S. Supreme Court case.
Marie Equi is a finely written, rigorously researched account of a woman of consequence, who one fellow-activist considered "the most interesting woman that ever lived in this state, certainly the most fascinating, colorful, and flamboyant." This much-anticipated biography will engage anyone interested in Pacific Northwest history, women’s studies, the history of lesbian and gay rights, and the personal demands of political activism. It is the inspiring story of a singular woman who was not afraid to take risks, who refused to compromise her principles in the face of enormous opposition and adversity, and who paid a steep personal price for living by her convictions.
About the Author(s)
Michael Helquist is an historian, journalist, and editor and has written for several publications, including the Oregon Historical Quarterly, the Journal of Homosexuality, the American Medical News, MS Magazine, The Advocate, and the San Francisco Bay Guardian. He has edited four volumes on health communication, social marketing, and behavior change. He directed a global AIDS and health communication program and worked on campaigns for safe streets and alternative transportation, development of GLBT history archives, and community resilience and sustainability.
Table of Contents
1: A Crazy Patchwork
2: Horsewhip in Hand
3: The Adacity to Succeed
4: Doctor and Suffragist
5: To the Rescue with the Oregon Doctor Train
6: Love (Almost) in the Open
7: A Criminal Practice
8: A Period of Balance
9: Soapbox to Jail Cell
10: The Company of Women
11: "Prepare to Die, Workingman"
12: "One of the Most Dangerous Anarchists"
13: Convicted for Conscience
14: Days of Reckoning
15: The Palace of Sad Princesses
16: Nothing is the Same
17: Life with the Rebel Girl
18: Queen of the Bolsheviks
"With meticulous archival research, including access to oral histories, Helquist presents this generous, passionate, and complicated woman in a respectful and dignified way that Dr. Equi herself would undoubtedly have appreciated. A splendid contribution to both feminist and lesbian history."
-Bettina Aptheker, Professor, Feminist Studies Department, University of California, Santa Cruz
"Helquist’s compelling biography…creates an indisputable place in our collective history for this fearless advocate for workers, women, reproductive rights, and civil liberties. A must read for those who wish to understand more about women’s history, LGBTQ studies, the history of medicine, radical history, and Oregon and Pacific Northwest history."
-Kimberly Jensen, Professor of History & Gender Studies, Western Oregon University
"Marie Equi, ‘stormy petrel’ of the Pacific Northwest, has found her harbor in Helquist’s richly detailed and enthralling book."
-Nancy Krieger, Professor of Social Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
"Helquist has done great service to those interested in progressive Era radicalism in Portland."
-Larry Lipin, Professor, US History, Pacific University
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