Esther (Clayton) Pohl Lovejoy was born of English parents at Seabeck,
Washington Territory in 1869. After Esther's family failed in the logging
business, they kept a back woods hotel named the Golden Rule. The years
passed and in search of a soft spot where other pioneers had already
worked themselves to death to make a place fit for human habitation, they
moved to Portland.
As Esther grew, she became interested in the medical
profession. When Dr. Callie Charlton came to visit, he told her that
being a doctor was the best option for a woman and confided to her that
doctors sometimes made $2,000 a year. She was convinced, but for economic
reasons she was obliged to attend the local school.
Esther Clayton was
the second woman to graduate from the University of Oregon Medical School
but the first to practice medicine. She married a classmate, Emil Pohl,
shortly after graduation. The gold rush in Alaska beckoned. Persuaded by
her brothers, she and Emil moved to the gold fields in the Klondike. Her
brother was murdered in 1899 and shortly after, Esther returned to
Portland to resume her professional career. She only returned periodically
to Alaska to visit her husband.
She was a pioneer member of the Portland
Board of Health. From 1907-1909 she was health officer and chairman of
the board, the first woman in the U.S. to hold such a position. She
installed the first school nurse and wrote the first milk ordinance. She
launched a campaign against rats and instituted inspection of schools.
She was a member of the Medical Women's National Association and was
present at the first meeting in New York of the MWNA War Service
Committee (renamed American Women's Hospitals). She joined the staff of
the American Red Cross in Paris. She founded the Medical Women's
International Association and was chosen chairman of the executive board
for the AWH and served until her death in 1967. Dr. Pohl Lovejoy traveled
broadly to alleviate the suffering of war, famine, revolution and poverty.
The Esther Pohl Lovejoy exhibit consists of photographs and personal and
Esther Pohl Lovejoy
Esther Pohl Lovejoy
Esther Pohl Lovejoy in her office
Esther Pohl Lovejoy as aviator