Frances Fuller Victor

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Frances Fuller Victor
Frances Fuller Victor.png
BornMay 23, 1826
Rome, New York
DiedNovember 14, 1902(1902-11-14) (aged 76)
Portland, Oregon
Notable worksHistory of Oregon
SpouseJackson Barritt; Henry Clay Victor

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Frances Auretta Fuller (Barritt) Victor (pen names: Florence Fane,[1] Dorothy D.) (May 23, 1826 – November 14, 1902)[1] was an American historian and historical novelist. She has been described as "the first Oregon historian to gain regional and national attention."[2] She was known for her books about the West and especially Oregon history.


She was born as Frances Auretta Fuller in Rome, New York, in 1826, and was the eldest of five sisters.[3] She was a "close relative" of judge Reuben H. Walworth.[4] She and her sister Metta Victoria Fuller became widely known for their writing while growing up in Ohio and Pennsylvania.[1][5] Frances Fuller was educated in a ladies' seminary in Wooster, Ohio.[4] The sisters both published stories and poems in the Home Journal, published by Morris & Willis. In 1848 the sisters moved together to New York City.[1]

In 1851 Frances moved to St. Clair, Michigan north of Detroit to help care for her mother and younger sisters. She married Jackson Barritt in 1853, and she and her husband homesteaded near Omaha, Nebraska Territory. She left Barritt, however, returning to live with Metta in New York.[1] There she published several of the first dime novels with Beadle & Adams.[6]

In 1862 she married Henry C. Victor, a naval engineer[7] and brother of Metta's husband.[1] The couple moved to San Francisco the year they were married and then to Oregon in 1864. They settled in Portland.[5][7]

Victor in 1878, as photographed by I. W. Taber.

Following the move to Oregon, Fuller Victor's writing shifted from fiction and feature articles to book-length regional histories. Over the next 13 years, she compiled first-hand accounts of the history of Oregon from territorial leaders such as Joseph Meek, Oliver Applegate, and Matthew Deady.[5] Her diligent studies informed both her fiction and her historical writing, contributing to her success as a writer.[5] Her fiction in this period was considered to accurately capture the spirit of western expansion and the notion of Manifest Destiny.[8]

She also continued to write about women's rights. Among the publications she wrote for was Abigail Scott Duniway's The New Northwest.[9]

Henry C. Victor died on November 4, 1875 in the wreck of the steamship Pacific off Cape Flattery.[10] In need of money, Fuller Victor moved back to San Francisco to accept a 10-year contract offered by historian Hubert Howe Bancroft.[11] The terms of the contract required her to turn over to him her extensive collections and research.[7] She contributed major portions of Bancroft's monumental work, The History of the West,[7] though Bancroft published her work under his own name.[12]

Fuller Victor returned to Oregon in 1886.[13] She was commissioned by the Oregon Legislative Assembly to write a history of the Anglo-Indian wars, which was titled The Early Indian Wars of Oregon.[14][5] To cover her living expenses, she also sold face cream and other articles door-to-door.[7] She was granted a pension in April 1902.[15]


Victor View, a viewpoint at Crater Lake, was formally named in 1945. Victor visited Crater Lake in 1872.

Fuller Victor was buried at River View Cemetery in Portland. The initial grave marker was made of wood, and did not last long. In 1947, the Daughters of the American Revolution supplied a permanent grave marker. Victor's name was included among the names of significant Oregonians on the walls of the Oregon State Capitol, which was completed in 1938.[16] In 1945 Crater Lake National Park formalized the name of "Victor View," a viewpoint on the rim of the park, in her honor.[17][18]

In many respects, her legacy continued to be overshadowed by that of historian Hubert Howe Bancroft,[16] though her authorship was recognized by a number of authorities. Leslie M. Scott, who served as editor of the Oregon Historical Quarterly and later as treasurer of Oregon, suggested in a 1924 address that the History of Oregon she wrote while employed by Bancroft might be "the most monumental work on Oregon history."[19] She was included (along with several other women) in a list of "Noted Leaders of the Oregonian's First 100 Years" in 1950.[20][21]

Victor's legacy was invoked in a speech by scholar Terrence O'Donnell at the inaugural Oregon Book Award event in 1987, which also marked the beginning of the annual Frances Fuller Victor Award for Creative Nonfiction.[22] In 2005, the Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission selected The River of the West as one of the 100 books that best define the state and its people.[23]

Beginning in 1951, Randall Mills began researching Victor's life and work. He enlisted the help of Hazel Emery Mills, his wife; the work became her lifelong passion following Randall's death shortly after the project began. With assistance and encouragement over the years from Thomas Vaughan of the Oregon Historical Society, Constance Bordwell of the University of Oregon, and (after Hazel Mills' death in 1999) Bordwell's assistants Priscilla Knuth and Bruce Taylor Hamilton, and Vaughan's associate Marguerite Wright, a biography was published by the OHS Press in 2003.[16] It was called Frances Fuller Victor: The Witness to America's Westerings. It was attributed to Hazel Mills and Constance Bordwell as authors, with Thomas Vaughan and Marguerite Wright as editors.

Separately, and without awareness of the Mills–Bordwell project, Jim Martin, a legislative assistant with a background in journalism, took an interest in Victor in 1976, after having noticed her name on the Capitol's wall. He researched her work for eight years. After searching for a publisher for five years, he published A Bit of Blue: The Life and Work of Frances Fuller Victor, under his own Deep Well Publishing imprint.[16]

Works by Frances Fuller Victor[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Martin, Jim (1992). A Bit of A Blue: The Life and Work of Frances Fuller Victor. Salem, Oregon: Deep Well. ISBN 978-0-9632066-0-2.
  • Mills, Hazel; Bordwell, Constance (2002). Vaughan, Thomas; Wright, Marguerite (eds.). Frances Fuller Victor: The Witness to America's Westerings. Portland, Or.: Peregrine Productions for the Oregon Historical Society Press. ISBN 0972694803.
  • Barritt, Mrs. Frances F., Beadle and Adams Dime Novel Digitization Project


  1. ^ a b c d e f Frances Auretta Fuller Victor. Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. July 10, 2009.
  2. ^ Etulain, Richard (September 4, 2011). "A brief history of Oregon historians". The Oregonian.
  3. ^ Martin, Jim (2004). "Frances Fuller Victor: Oregon's First Woman of Letters" (PDF). Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ a b Morris, William A. (December 1, 1902). "Historian of the Northwest. A Woman Who Loved Oregon: Frances Fuller Victor". The Quarterly of the Oregon Historical Society. 3 (No. 4).
  5. ^ a b c d e Frances-Fuller Victor, City of Portland
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b c d e Curtis, Walt (1995). "Frances Fuller Victor (1826–1902)". Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission.
  8. ^ Sheri Bartlett Browne. "Frances Fuller Victor". The Oregon Encyclopedia.
  9. ^ "19th Century Women Writers in Corvallis, Oregon". Archived from the original on 2011-09-28. Retrieved 2011-09-03.
  10. ^ "The Steamship Pacific," The Oregonian, 9 November 1875, p. 3
  11. ^ * Martin, Jim (1992). A Bit of A Blue: The Life and Work of Frances Fuller Victor. Salem, Oregon: Deep Well. ISBN 978-0-9632066-0-2.
  12. ^ Johnson Bube, June (1997). "Prefiguring the new woman: Frances Fuller Victor's refashioning of women and marriage in "The New Penelope"". Frontiers.
  13. ^ "Society Chronicle". Daily Capital Journal. April 20, 1896.
  14. ^ "The Woman Historian: Interesting Passages in the Life of Frances Fuller Victor". The San Francisco Call. July 7, 1895.
  15. ^ "Of Interest to People of the Pacific Coast: Several Changes Are Made in the Postal Service and More New Pensions Granted". San Francisco Call. April 25, 1902.
  16. ^ a b c d Terry, John (January 26, 2003). "Oregon's Trails: A Slide into Obscurity, and Then Recognition". The Oregonian.
  17. ^ Victor Rock/Victor View, Crater Lake Institute, Vol. 29
  18. ^ Juillerat, Lee (26 April 2004). "Postcards from the Rim". Klamath Falls Herald and News.
  19. ^ Scott, Leslie M. (1924). "Oregon History Writers and Their Materials" . Oregon Historical Quarterly. 25.
  20. ^ "Frances Fuller Victor (1826-1902), Historian Who Told Thrilling Story of Old Oregon". The Oregonian. December 12, 1950.
  21. ^ "Noted Leaders of the Oregonian's First 100 Years". The Oregonian. December 31, 1950.
  22. ^ Pintarich, Paul (October 3, 1987). "Book Awards Event at Arts Center Honors Oregon Writers". The Oregonian.
  23. ^ "Oregon Lit: 200 Years, 100 Books". The Oregonian. February 20, 2005.

External links[edit]