Esther Pohl Lovejoy

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Esther Pohl Lovejoy

Esther Pohl Lovejoy (November 16, 1869 – August 31, 1967) was an American physician and public health pioneer,[1] suffrage activist, congressional candidate, and a central figure in early efforts to organize international medical relief work.[2] In 1907, Lovejoy became the first woman appointed to direct a department of health in a major U.S city, the Portland Board of Health, Oregon.[3] Lovejoy worked on the women's suffrage campaigns in Oregon in 1906 and 1912, and founded the Everybody's Equal Suffrage League ahead of the 1912 election,[2] when Oregon became the 7th state to grant women the right to vote. Lovejoy was among the founders of the Medical Women's International Association and was elected as its first president in 1919.[4] Lovejoy ran for the U.S. Congress in 1920 as the Democratic candidate for Portland’s Third District but was not successful against the sitting Republican.[2] She was awarded the Elizabeth Blackwell Medal by the American Medical Women's Association in 1951 and 1957 for contributions to the field of medicine.


Esther Pohl Lovejoy was born Esther Clayson in a lumber camp near Seabeck, Washington, and received almost no formal early education. Despite this, she became only the second woman to graduate from University of Oregon's medical school (1894).

Lovejoy was inspired to study medicine by the woman doctor who delivered her youngest sister.[3] After graduating, Dr. Clayson married a classmate, Emil Pohl, and they began a private practice together in Portland, Oregon, before moving to Skagway, Alaska where they spent the next two years working there together.[3] The Pohls had one son, Frederick, born in 1901, who died in 1908 from septic peritonitis.[3] Following her son's death, Esther pursued further training in Berlin in 1909. Her husband Emil died in Alaska in 1911.[3] Subsequently, Esther married Portland businessman George A. Lovejoy in 1912, divorcing in 1920.[2]


  1. ^ Marshall, Mary Louise (1958). "Book Review: Women Doctors of the World by Esther Pohl Lovejoy (1957)". Bulletin of the Medical Library Association. 46 (1): 139–140. PMC 200230free to read. 
  2. ^ a b c d Jensen, Kimberly. "Esther Clayson Pohl Lovejoy (1869-1967)". The Oregon Encyclopedia. Retrieved 22 March 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Dr. Esther Clayson Pohl Lovejoy". Changing the face of medicine. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved 22 March 2016. 
  4. ^ "History: Foundation of the Medical Women's International Association". Medical Women’s International Association Official Website. Retrieved 22 March 2016. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]


  • Certain Samaritans. New York: [The Macmillan Company]. 1927. 
  • Lovejoy, Esther Pohl (1957). Women Doctors of the World. New York: Macmillan.