Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Jill Liddington: Interview

Rebel Girls, a new work by Jill Liddington, tells stories of the Suffragettes in Britain. The women profiled in these stories were part of a broad political movement. Liddington goes beyond the better-known suffragettes who were mainly middle and upper-class women to put the movement's story back "where it sprang from: the everyday experiences of ordinary women."

During the political struggle, safe houses were established to shelter fugitive suffragettes. British women achieved voting rights in 1928.

Friday, May 26, 2006

New Bedford in "36 Hours"

Today's NYT feature on New Bedford (Marie Equi's hometown on the southern shore of Massachusetts) caught my attention. In describing activities to occupy a civilized Times reader for "36 Hours," Times writer Paul Schneider suggests readers visit New Bedford's library (pictured) to view artworks, including some by Albert Bierstadt. Readers are directed to contact librarian Paul Cyr for access to the room. Mr. Cyr, Curator of Special Collections at the New Bedford Free Public Library and one of New Bedford's cultural resources, was a huge help to Michael and me during our 2004 visit. Since Michael was in contact with local historians before our trip, we knew that Mr. Cyr was the person to connect with when we arrived. I am wondering if he is ready for an onslaught of culture vultures - the main library in downtown New Bedford is already a pretty busy place.

The article also mentions both Freestone's City Grill in central New Bedford, and Margaret's, just across Buzzard's Bay from New Bedford in Fairhaven. These were both places where we ate during our trip - not just once, but we even came back a second time.

Beyond these personal connections to our own brief time there, the article crams a lot of history and reminds me of what a fascinating and complex "New Beige" (?) is - even if, as Schneider writes, "Tough times and a rough reputation is how the city is generally perceived regionally."

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Apuan Alps are "Tuscany's lost corner" (NYT)

With great timing, a travel article in today's New York Times fills in details about the Apuan Alps that I started learning about yesterday (see "Who were the Equis?".

Writer Timothy Egan (with photos by Chris Warde-Jones) describes the mountains: "the Apuans are Italy's anonymous Alps — a compact, cultivated clot of mountains wedged between the Ligurian Sea and the better-known Apennines."

The article also echoes the "fierce warrior" theme: "The Romans established Lucca and built roads, villas and aqueducts in the foothills. They also tried to dislodge earlier inhabitants, the Ligurian-Apuanians, who were defeated in 179 B.C. The Apuans never lost their warrior reputation..." That sounds like the portrayal of local people from Virgil's Aeneid, written in the first century B.C. (see my previous post).

There is a regional park for the Apuan Alps and the park's website shows that the park logo - like my blog - has a bird logo. The Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax erythrorhamphus - in Italian, "il gracchio corallino," - in English, the Red-Billed Chough.

I'm updating this in order to not use copyrighted images pulled from the Times website. Instead, the new photo shows a quarry in Carrara, in the Apuans, usable with attribution, from RDesai's Italy photos on Flickr.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

"What every law student 'knows' is wrong"

I wrote about Montana's posthumous pardons a few weeks ago. A subsequent analysis by Adam Liptak in the New York Times titled "Sedition: It Still Rolls Off the Tongue" (5/7/2006) helped me understand that Marie Equi's conviction for sedition for expression of views during wartime could probably happen during today's time of war.

Many legal experts cite the 1969 case, Brandenburg v. Ohio, as protective of political dissent, arguing that the state may not criminalize the expression of views (including fierce anti-government views) unless the advocacy is directed to inciting imminent lawless action.

But another recent legal article by David M. Skover and Ronald KL Collins observed that earlier rulings give more power to the state. In Schenck v. United States, Justice Oliver Weldell Holmes Jr. (pictured) upheld the conviction of distributing pamphlets that caused a "hindrance" of the war effort. The ruling has never been overturned and so "what every law student 'knows' is wrong."

Marie is everywhere!

Last Thursday (May 11) on the way to Portland, I was reading the San Francisco Chronicle, and there - on the wall of a legal clinic over the shoulder of a woman facing deportation - appeared the poster of Dr. Marie Equi by Icky A. that celebrates her revolt. Posted by Picasa

Who were the Equis?

The family name “Equi” seems unique to many people today, but it has a long history. We have learned from an active network of Equi families that the Equi’s are principally from Tuscany, Italy, especially in the city of Barga.

One of the Equi family sources has written that he believes his ancestors are named in the Aeneid of Virgil, in the following citation:

Ferter Resius / rex Aequeicolus
is preimus / ius fetiale paravit
inde p(opulus) R(omanus) discipleinam excepit
Et te montosae misere in proelia Nersae
Ufens, insignem fama et felicibus armis;
horrida praecipue cui gens adsuetaque multo
venatu nemorum, duris Aequicula glaebis:
armati terram exercent semperque recentis
convectare iuvat praedas et vivere rapto.

Ferter Resius, king of the Equis
was the first to obtain the right of the feziali.
Therefore, the people of Rome had to learn to accept it.

You went to battle in the mountenous Nerse,
Proud and strong with invincible fame,
tough like your people used to the long hunts in the forests:
the Equis made of very tough soil,

who work the earth fully armed and everyday,
always find new prey, surviving through robbery.

If you search Google Earth for “Equi, Italy,” you find a remote location, high in the snow-covered Apuan Alps (which, I gather, are to the southeast of the Ligurian Alps), not far from the town of Barga. Nearby is the ancient hamlet, "Terme di Equi." The area is said to be full of ancient marble quarries – very fitting since Marie Equi’s father was a stonemason. The picture is from a website about a nearby country hotel-farm, with pictures of the "outskirtses". I know I'm ready for vacation.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

OHSU lecture on Dr. Equi now online

We are just 2 days back from our Portland trip, and OHSU has already made the presentation available online. RealPlayer is required to view it; if you don't have it, download it here (it's free and really quite painless). If you have RealPlayer, click here for the OHSU History of Medicine lecture series and then choose our presentation, which is at the top of the list for now: May 12, 2006 - Michael Helquist - "KAJ Mackenzie, Marie Equi, and the Oregon Doctor Train: Portland's response to the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake."

Michael offers this introductory note to his OHSU lecture on Marie Equi:

This "narrative with slides" was prepared for the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) History of Medicine Lecture Series. The primary audience for the presentation was the OHSU medical community -- faculty, students, staff. Several of the volunteer doctors mentioned in this presentation were graduates or faculty of the University of Oregon Medical School (which would later become OHSU) in April of 1906. Therefore, the presentation emphasizes the contributions of these individuals, including Dr. Marie Equi.

My introductory note is that you'll briefly hear from Prof. Allan Hunter, who introduced Michael. Once Michael starts, the audio improves. It lasts about an hour. If you check it out, let us know what you think!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

"Aftershocker!" - Just Out covers OHSU talk

Aftershocker! is a great title for this article about our upcoming talk written by Pat Young, in Just Out, the LGBT Community newspaper/website in Portland.

The article notes howthe work of Portland researchers Sandy Polishuk and Tom Cook helped us learn about Marie's story.

The lecture starts noon May 12 at OHSU’s Old Library Auditorium, 3181 S.W. Sam Jackson Park Road. We hope to see you there!

Read the article below or at

It's the 100th anniversary of the major San Francisco earthquake. Much has been said in the national news about the damage and what could happen if another quake occurred today. But what the national media didn’t mention is the little-known fact that a Portland lesbian doctor, Marie Equi, traveled to San Francisco to help the earthquake victims.

Today, it’s not unusual for doctors from the Pacific Northwest to offer their services after disasters such as tsunamis, hurricanes and earthquakes, but back in 1906 it was another story.

Michael Helquist will tell that story as part of Oregon Health & Science University’s History of Medicine Lecture Series. “Marie Equi was the only woman doctor among 40 Portland doctors and nurses who volunteered on short notice to travel to San Francisco,” he notes.

According to Helquist, Equi was “vaulted into public prominence as a result of her relief work” managing Portland nurses at the U.S. Army Presidio hospital. The governor of California and mayor of San Francisco recognized her outstanding effort with several commendations.

Helquist is writing a biography about Equi. He first learned of her after reading an article by Tom Cook, founder of the Gay and Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest. He quickly became intrigued about Equi. “How could you not be interested in a 20-year-old newcomer from the East Coast horsewhipping a Baptist minister in downtown The Dalles in 1893—all to defend her girlfriend’s honor and obtain a promised salary?” comments Helquist.

Equi’s escapades in The Dalles were well-documented in the local newspaper—giving Helquist plenty of material for his book. Also, he read Sandy Polishuk’s unpublished manuscript on Equi’s politics, which is at the Oregon Historical Society. Unfortunately, he adds, many of Equi’s journals and personal letters were lost in the 1962 Columbus Day storm.

Helquist refers to his presentation at OHSU as a narrative with slides. He’ll describe the drama of the disaster and the heroic efforts by Portland doctors and nurses. He says his lecture “celebrates a GLBT presence in an episode of historic significance. This is the centennial year for the San Francisco earthquake, and Portland’s role in that episode is a story seldom told.”

The lecture starts noon May 12 at OHSU’s Old Library Auditorium, 3181 S.W. Sam Jackson Park Road.

—Pat Young

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Pardons Granted for Sedition - New York Times

These four people were among 78 convicted of sedition during World War I by the state of Montana who will be posthumously pardoned today (photo, Montana Historical Society).

The New York Times quotes Montana governor Brian Schweitzer:
"I'm going to say what Gov. Sam Stewart should have said," Mr. Schweitzer said, referring to the man who signed the sedition legislation into law in 1918. "I'm sorry, forgive me, and God bless America, because we can criticize our government."

If those imprisoned by the states can be pardoned, can our President pardon those convicted in the federal courts, such as Marie Equi? Here in San Francisco, many people were tried for sedition in the federal courthouse. The federal judges were known to show little sympathy, especially for people of German ancestry.

Read more about the Montana pardons at

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Portland newspaper features upcoming talk

The science writer for The Oregonian in Portland featured our talk in the April 26 edition in a short blurb under "Science News and Events."

Historian to discuss Oregon doctors after 1906 quake

Michael Helquist, an historian, will speak on "K.A.J. MacKenzie, Marie Equi and the Oregon Doctor Train" at 12:15 p.m. May 12 in the Old Library Auditorium at Oregon Health & Science University.

Helquist will discuss how a group of 40 doctors and nurses went to San Francisco to help in relief efforts two days after the 1906 earthquake. He is writing a biography of Dr. Marie Equi, a graduate of Oregon's medical school and a radical activist.

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the OHSU History of Medicine Society.

The blurb is at

Monday, May 01, 2006

A Day Without Immigrants (2)

And on our coast: San Francisco today.


A Day Without Immigrants

Beautiful photo: Queens NY today

Other photos at

Single-Payer System

Paul Krugman writes in the New York Times: What would happen if Medicare was expanded to cover everyone? Let's do it!! (email me if you need help seeing this article - I'll email it to you)

It's May Day, it's my birthday, and I have much to be happy for. Here's a snap of spring ferns from my Marin bike ride today.