Biographical Sketch of Sarah Evans

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890–1920

Biography of Sarah Evans, 1854-1940

By JD Chandler, independent historian

Sarah Ann Shannon Evans was born in Bedford, PA on June 4, 1854; daughter of Oliver and Mary Shannon. Her father was a prominent politician and friend of Pres. Buchanan. Sarah graduated from the Lutherville Female seminary in Maryland and married William M. Evans in 1873. They moved to Portland together in 1894 and Sarah was a founding member of the Portland Women's Club (PWC) in 1895. She died in Portland at the age of 86 in 1940.

Sarah Evans remained active in the PWC, in which she served one term as president, and the Oregon Federation of Women's Clubs, which she served as President from 1905-1915. She participated in the Suffrage campaigns of 1900, 1906, 1908, 1910 and 1912; mostly involved with mobilizing a large group of volunteers from the Women's Clubs. Evans was the main organizer for the construction and installation of the Sacagawea statue unveiled at the 1905 NAWSA National Conference. The statue was created by Alice Cooper, one of the first American women to work in cast bronze. Evans' 1905 article on the life of Sacagawea was very influential in making the Native American woman an important symbol in the cause of Women's suffrage.

Evans was an advocate of the domestic science movement, which called for municipal housekeeping. She worked tirelessly for child labor laws, the YWCA, the public library and public education through the Chautauqua movement. Along with her close friend, Dr. Esther Pohl Lovejoy, Evans spent a great deal of her life working for food safety, serving as the Portland Board of Health's Market Inspector from 1905 until her retirement in 1935. Unlike many of Oregon's Woman Suffrage leaders, Sarah Evans was a working class woman who worked her entire life in addition to her political and social activity. She is buried at Lone Fir Cemetery in a family plot directly adjacent to the family plot of her life-long friend Dr. Esther Pohl Lovejoy.

Sources:

Chandler, JD. Hidden History of Portland (Charleston, S.C.: History Press, 2013).

Evans, Sarah. “Sacajawea: An Unconscious Heroine,” Medical Sentinel, (June 1905) 240-241.

Jensen, Kimberly. “Sarah A. Evans, Portland Market Inspector 1905-1935.” Kimberly Jensen's Blog (Sept. 7, 2010). http://kimberlyjensenblog.blogspot.com/2010/09/sarah-evans-portland-market-inspector.html

Oregon Daily Journal, Aug. 1, 1910 – Mrs. Mary Shannon Buried in Yankton

Oregonian, July 7, 1905 – Statue of Bird Woman Unveiled

Oregonian, August 8, 1905 – Would Succeed Mrs. Tingle

Oregonian, May 20, 1912 – Campaign Staff Grows, Clubwomen Increase Working Force of Suffrage Committee

Oregonian, June 20, 1921 – City Approves Retirement

Oregonian, Dec. 9, 1940 – Death Calls Sarah Evans

“Sarah A. Evans.” Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarah_A._Evans

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