[Portland, Oregon: Mann & Beach, ca. 1906.]. First edition. The present work documents the life of Dr. Bethenia Angelina Owens-Adair, M.D. (1840 – 1926), beginning with her migration to Oregon on the first major wagon train led by Jesse Applegate. In Oregon, Dr. Owens-Adair became the first practicing woman medical doctor in the Pacific Northwest, a vocal proponent of women’s suffrage, and an ardent advocate for eugenics. In 1922, Dr. Owens-Adair published a collection of letters and testimonials, in which one of her friends describes her as “a remarkable woman…she was responsible for the passage of the ‘sterilization law’ for degenerates and criminals in Oregon, and has made this her work for many years. She has written and worked entirely for the adoption of eugenic and hygienic laws in Oregon as well as in other states,” (A Souvenir, p. 63). With seven photo plates, including a portrait of the author. A clean, near fine copy. Publisher’s olive-green ribbed cloth titled in black. Octavo. 537 pp. Item #17553
Owens-Adair campaigned for the passage of a sterilization law, authored by her, for ten years until it was finally passed by the Oregon Legislature in 1917. The law, which reached its final form in 1923, permitted the sterilization of people deemed “feeble-minded, insane, epileptic, habitual criminals, moral degenerates and sexual perverts.” About 2,650 people were forcibly sterilized under the law before its repeal in 1983.
Kaelber, Lutz. “Eugenics: Compulsory Sterilization in 50 American States,” see the section on Oregon.