Something Worth Doing (2020)



In 1853, Abigail Scott was a 19-year-old school teacher in Oregon Territory when she married Ben Duniway. Marriage meant giving up on teaching, but Abigail always believed she was meant to be more than a good wife and mother. When financial mistakes and an injury force Ben to stop working, Abigail becomes the primary breadwinner for her growing family. What she sees as a working woman appalls her, and she devotes her life to fighting for the rights of women, including their right to vote.

Following Abigail as she bears six children, runs a millinery and a private school, helps on the farm, writes novels, gives speeches, and eventually runs a newspaper supporting women's suffrage, Something Worth Doing explores issues that will resonate strongly with modern women: the pull between career and family, finding one's place in the public sphere, and dealing with frustrations and prejudices women encounter when they compete in male-dominated spaces. Based on a true story of a pioneer for women's rights from award-winning author Jane Kirkpatrick will inspire you to believe that some things are worth doing--even when the cost is great.

Something Worth Doing - The Women's Suffrage Timeline


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The Times They Are A-changin’.  Turbulent times are cyclical.  Contemporary times, the 1960’s and the period of history into which Abigail Scott was born were all turbulent times.  As a teen and young woman, Abigail Scott was strongly influenced by the contemporary voices of her time -- an era that sought equality for women at the voting booth.   The timeline above places Abigail’s life on the continuum of that era of the Women’s Suffrage Movement.

VotePoster LectureAWSPoster

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Free speech, Free press, Free people - "The New Northwest"


Abigail Scott Duniway was inspired to a life of political activism as she found herself surrounded by outrageous laws that controlled women’s lives. From May 5, 1871 to Feb. 24, 1887 Abigail Scott Duniway published a weekly newspaper in Portland, OR - The New Northwest. She used her publication to discuss and provide a platform to debate a variety of issues important to women: daily news, Temperance, Native Americans, Chinese in America, divorce law, economics in frontier Oregon and women’s suffrage. She was guided by the paper's motto, "Free speech, Free press, Free people." Her editorial signature line, "Yours for Liberty," capsulized her intent in publishing. Archived issues can be found here.

Honored by Oregon's Governor

Abigail Scott Duniway (seated) signing first Equal Suffrage Proclamation, Nov. 1912, with Governor Oswald West (r) and Dr. Viola M. Coe (l).
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Duniway was honored when Governor Oswald West asked her to write the Oregon Woman Suffrage Proclamation in 1912, but she did not live to see the Nineteenth Amendment grant suffrage to all women. She died five years before the passage of the 19th Amendment.

Suffrage Hymn

Penned in 1912, Abigail Scott Duniway was the lyricist for the Suffrage Hymn.


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Duniway, Abigail Scott, Lyricist. Suffrage Hymn. [Portland, Oregon: Sharp & Mack Sheet Music, ©, 1912] Notated Music. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.


Praise for Jane Kirkpatrick's Something Worth Doing

"I have long admired Jane Kirkpatrick's rich historical fiction, and Something Worth Doing is well worth reading! Oregonian Abigail Duniway is a vibrant, fiercely passionate, and determined activist who fought for women's suffrage. Women of today have cause to respect and admire her--as well as the loving, patient, and supportive husband who encouraged her to continue 'the silent hunt.'"--Francine Rivers, author of Redeeming Love

"Reading Jane Kirkpatrick's story of this persistent, passionate, and bold Oregon icon is indeed something worth doing!"--Susan G. Butruille, author of Women's Voices from the Oregon Trail


Writer's Recollection

I’ve been asked how I choose the women I write about.  Reflecting on that question, it really seems that they choose me. There is some unanswered question I learn about and I want to try to find the answer.
In Something Worth Doing, one unanswered question was how a woman in the 1850s and beyond could be a mother of 6, have a supportive husband and maintain her reputation despite speaking publicly, traveling away from her family for weeks at a time, (her husband was an early house-husband) run businesses, write and run a newspaper all to advance the rights of women. With so many defeats, where did Abigail draw her strength from to keep going? 


Available everywhere September 3, 2020