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The histories behind the Federation

Oregon Press Women: A Brief History

Oregon Press Women launched in May 1951, the same month and year when the first American woman to fly in space, Sally Ride, was born. Newspaper publisher Margaret Thompson Hill set OPW on its aspiring course as an affiliate of the National Federation of Press Women.

For about a year previously, Margaret had been busy preparing the way for Oregon Press Women. She knew that women working on more than 100 weekly newspapers across Oregon had no vehicle for sharing common problems or for talking shop. As publisher of the Parkrose Enterprise in suburban Portland, Margaret had joined the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association, but had found that it virtually ignored any female opinions or ideas at its meetings.

purple jagged-edged circle with text 80 years in black and in white, around the edge above 80, dates of the orgnization.
head and shoulder, black-and-white portrait
Emma McKinney, 1959

After diligent inquiry among employed newswomen — and with ardent support from 86-year-old Emma C. McKinney, co-publisher of the Hillsboro Argus and dean of Oregon newspaper women — Margaret persuaded a group of women to sign on as charter members of OPW.

Oregon Press Women formally organized and affiliated with NFPW at a May 1951 meeting at the Multnomah Hotel in Portland. National president Irene Bedard presented the charter to Margaret, OPW's first president. Emma McKinney, a longtime member-at-large of NFPW, was named OPW honorary president for the 32 charter members.

Through the years, members have enjoyed the professional growth, support and encouragement, along with the warm friendships, that OPW offers. Just a few of the memorable presenters at conferences, formerly held in the spring and fall, have been newspaper writing guru Roy Peter Clark of The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Nigel Jaquiss, Oregon's then-Secretary of State Norma Paulus and true-crime author Ann Rule.

In past years OPW was active in awarding scholarships, sponsoring the high school journalism contest, and presenting legislative workshops in Oregon's capital of Salem. Members have garnered many awards, including sweepstakes honors, in the NFPW communications contests.

Two OPW members have been named NFPW Communicator of Achievement: Emma McKinney in 1959 and Peggyann Hutchinson in 2007. OPW's Maggie Magee served as national president from 1965 to 1967.

Oregon Press Women celebrated its 50th anniversary, with the theme of "You're the Top!," at historic Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood. In a highlight of the event, several members performed a readers' theater in which they portrayed leading members from OPW's history. It was a tribute to pioneering women journalists such as those early visionaries: Margaret Thompson Hill and Emma McKinney.