From the archives: The remarkable life of Dr. Marie Equi, Class of 1903

August 21, 2015

Marie-Equi-GraduationPlease join OHSU Library and author Michael Helquist on Sept. 17, 2015 for a discussion of remarkable OHSU alumna Dr. Marie Equi, who graduated from University of Oregon Medical School (a precursor to today’s OHSU School of Medicine) in 1903. 

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 long-time woman companion. In addition to her professional accomplishments, she became well-known for her lifelong political activism in the areas of labor rights, women’s suffrage and reproductive freedom. 

Equi self-studied her way into a San Francisco medical school, graduated from the University of Oregon Medical School (a precursor to today’s OHSU School of Medicine) 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 convictionDr. Marie Equi in clinic 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.

Michael Helquist is an acclaimed historian, journalist and editor. His work has appeared in such publications as The Advocate, American Medical News and Oregon Historical Quarterly. Alongside his work on LGBTQ history and archives, Helquist has directed a global AIDS and health communication program and edited four volumes on health communication, social marketing and behavioral change. 

His new book, Marie Equi: Radical Politics and Outlaw Passions (Oregon State University Press, 2015) traces the life and work of the extraordinary physician and activist.

Marie-Equi-Book-CoverMarie Equi: Radical Politics and Outlaw Passions
a reading and discussion with author Michael Helquist

Thursday, September 17, 2015 10-11am
OHSU Main Library, Room 429

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