Working Wonders: Sister Miriam Theresa and Fair Pay Legislation

Archived Event
Holy Names Heritage Center
17425 Holy Names Drive
Lake Oswego, OR 97034

Before and after taking vows, S. Miriam Theresa worked as a social reformer and educator who helped shape Oregon labor law and the state's social conditions through the numerous social workers she trained. Portland State University Professor Jan Dilg will explore how S. Miriam Theresa – born Caroline Gleason in 1886 – went from field secretary for the Catholic Women’s League to researcher for the Oregon Consumers League, which asked her to organize a survey of working conditions for women in factory, stores and offices across the state. The collected data became the basis for Oregon’s passage of the nation’s first minimum wage and maximum hour law, enacted in 1913 and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1917.  S. Miriam Theresa went on to become the first woman to receive a Ph.D. from the School of Social Work at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. In 1930, she became dean of Marylhurst College (founded by the Holy Names Sisters), and a year later the U.S. Department of Labor published her doctoral dissertation on the Oregon labor movement. In 1951, the Portland Oregonian named Sr. Miriam as one of the 25 most outstanding women in Oregon history during the previous hundred years.

English
All Ages