Oh What a Night! Conversations about Women, the 1970s, and Politics

Oh What a Night! Conversations about Women, the 1970s, and Politics [Transcript] Oh What a Night! Conversations about Women, the 1970s, and Politics [Sound Recording 01] Oh What a Night! Conversations about Women, the 1970s, and Politics [Sound Recording 02] Oh What a Night! Conversations about Women, the 1970s, and Politics [Sound Recording 03] Oh What a Night! Conversations about Women, the 1970s, and Politics [Sound Recording 04]

Identity elements

Reference code

SR 2534

Name and location of repository

Level of description



Oh What a Night! Conversations about Women, the 1970s, and Politics


  • 2004-03-18 (Creation)


.1 cubic feet; 2 audiocassettes (1 hr., 32 min., 12 sec.) + transcript (41 pages)

Name of creator

Biographical history

Gretchen Miller Kafoury was born in Walla Walla, Washington, in 1942. In 1963, she earned a bachelor's degree in music from Whitman College. She served in the Oregon House of Representatives from 1977 to 1982. She then served on the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners from 1985 to 1991, and on the Portland City Council from 1991 to 1998. She died in 2015.

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Biographical history

Vera Katz, nee Vera Pistrak, was born in Düsseldorf, Germany, in 1933. Her family moved to France during the lead-up to World War II. In 1940, they immigrated to the United States, where she grew up in New York. She attended Brooklyn College, where she earned a bachelor's degree in sociology in 1955, and a master's degree in 1957. In 1954, she and Mel Katz were married; they later had one child. In 1964, the family moved to Portland, Oregon, where Katz soon embarked upon a political career. She served in the Oregon House of Representatives, representing Portland and Multnomah County, from 1973 to 1990, and she became the first woman speaker of the house in 1985. She then served as Portland mayor from 1993 to 2005. She died in 2017.

Name of creator


Biographical history

Norma Paulus was born in Nebraska in 1933. Her family relocated to escape the Dust Bowl, eventually settling in Burns, Oregon, in 1938. After graduating from high school, she got a job as secretary to the district attorney of Harney County. She later moved to Salem, Oregon, and worked as a secretary for Judge Earl Latourette; at age 24, she decided to go to law school. She took night classes at Lewis and Clark College and graduated in 1962. She passed the Oregon State Bar the same year. She met her husband, Bill Paulus, while she was at law school, and they married in 1958. She became an appellate lawyer in Salem and argued before the Oregon Supreme Court. She was appointed to the Marion County Boundary Commission by Governor Tom McCall in 1969, which was the beginning of her political career. She represented Marion County in the Oregon House of Representatives from 1970 to 1976. She then served as Oregon's first woman secretary of state from 1977 to 1985. She also ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1986. She was then appointed to the Northwest Power Planning Council, where she served from 1987 to 1990, and subsequently was superintendent of public instruction from 1990 to 1999. She later served as the executive director of the Oregon Historical Society from 2000 to 2003. She died in 2019.

Name of creator


Biographical history

Betty Lucille Roberts, nee Cantrell, was born in Kansas in 1923. She grew up in Wichita Falls, Texas, where her family struggled greatly throughout the Depression. In 1942, she married Bill Rice, a drill instructor in the U.S. Army Air Forces, and after the end of World War II, they settled in Portland, Oregon, where he worked as a banker. Roberts continued her education while raising a family, and she graduated from Portland State College in 1958. Rice objected to her acceptance of a high school teaching position, and they divorced soon after. She soon got involved in local politics and was elected to the school board in the Lynch Elementary School District in East Portland, Oregon. In 1960, she married Oregon politician Frank L. Roberts. In 1961, she earned a Master of Science in political science from the University of Oregon, then took night classes at Northwestern College of Law in Portland. She graduated in 1965 and passed the bar in 1966. She was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives as a Democrat while still in law school. She represented Multnomah County in the Oregon House from 1965 to 1968. She and Frank L. Roberts divorced in 1966, and she married Oregon Representative Keith Skelton in 1968, the same year she won a seat in the Oregon Senate, where she served from 1969 to 1977. She ran unsuccessfully for Oregon governor in 1974, and was appointed by Governor Bob Straub to the Oregon Court of Appeals in 1977. She was appointed to the Oregon Supreme Court in 1982 by Governor Vic Atiyeh, and she retired in 1986. After retiring, she focused her efforts on women's rights. She helped found Oregon Women Lawyers in 1989, and she presided over the state's first legal same-sex marriage ceremony in 2004. She died in 2011.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

This collection consists of an audio recording and transcript of a panel discussion titled "Oh What a Night! Conversations about Women, the 1970s, and Politics." The discussion was moderated by Melody Rose at the Oregon Historical Society in Portland, Oregon, on March 18, 2004. The four participants were Gretchen Kafoury, Vera Katz, Norma Paulus, and Betty Roberts. Introductory remarks were made by John Pierce.

In the panel discussion, Rose begins by describing the topics that the panel will cover, giving instructions for audience to ask their questions, and introducing the four speakers. Kafoury, Katz, Paulus and Roberts discuss why they entered politics, talk about meeting each other as fellow legislators during the 1973 legislative session, and describe the political climate for women's rights in Oregon and the United States at that time. They talk about their support for the Equal Rights Amendment. They describe legislation they worked on regarding women's rights, reproductive rights, and rights for LGBTQ people. They discuss their strategies for getting their legislation passed and the formation of the Women's Caucus. They discuss work still undone that they feel future women legislators should focus on, and warn that their own accomplishments will need to be safeguarded by future generations. They close the panel with advice for women aspiring to enter politics.

Rose then asks Kafoury, Katz, Paulus, and Roberts selected questions from the audience. They answer questions about the definition of feminism, about the role Black women politicians played in passing women's rights legislation, about Oregon's leadership on numerous progressive issues, and about the personal costs they paid for their legislative work. They also answer questions about the role Oregon Governor Tom McCall played, as well as women in the U.S. Congress; about the failure of the national Equal Rights Amendment; and about U.S. health care policy. The final question answered is about the books that Kafoury, Katz, Paulus, and Roberts are currently reading.

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Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

Copyright for this recording is held by the Oregon Historical Society. Use is allowed according to the following statement: Creative Commons - BY-NC-SA, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/

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Languages of the material

  • English

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Notes element

General note

Preferred citation: Oh What a Night! Conversations about Women, the 1970s, and Politics, SR 2534, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.

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Alternative identifier(s)

Description control element

Rules or conventions

Finding aid based on DACS (Describing Archives: A Content Standard), 2nd Edition.

Sources used

Archivist's note

Sarah Stroman

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