Student publishes book about Portland’s female leaders


Luke Geist

Zadie Schaffer achieves dream after writing and publishing her book, “Noteable Women in Portland.”

While many students dream of becoming successful authors, few have managed to do something as arduous as write a book, much less get themselves published. But for sophomore Zadie Schaffer, that dream has become a reality.

Schaffer’s book, “Notable Women of Portland,” is co-written by her mother, Tracy Prince, a research professor at Portland State University. The book is Prince’s third entry under the “Images of America” label, which chroncicles photographs of various events throughout American history adjacent to easily digestible captions.

For this installment, Prince and Schaffer used a similar structure, using images of Portland’s women wherever they could find them: from the PSU research facility to the Oregon Historical Society archives to personal photographs of family friends.

Schaffer, a practicing Jew, initially conceived the book as a “mitzvah project” preceding her 12th birthday, or “bat mitzvah”, where Jewish law dictates that girls become accountable for their actions.

“The idea of a mitzvah is basically to do something good out of religious duty and expect nothing in return,” explains Schaffer.

Echoing this, no proceeds from “Notable Women of Portland” have benefited either Schaffer or Prince. 100 percent of the book’s proceeds go to Transition Projects, a nonprofit that helps homeless women .

“It’s kind of a double mitzvah,” says Schaffer, “because we’re trying to bring exposure to a lot of these obscure women that really helped Portland grow, but we’re also trying to use their stories to give help to women today that need it.”

Since the book’s publication, Schaffer and her mother have given talks around the Portland metro area. Most recently, districts in Portland, Lake Oswego and Beaverton purchased a collective 8,200 copies to be placed in the hands of libraries and teachers.

Now, the two hope to be able to use the book’s content to change the curriculum of Portland Public Schools.

“We’ve been meeting with [curriculum committees] and discussing how we can best use the info in this book in the classroom, and we’re really optimistic,” says Schaffer. “It’s really kinda crazy the amount that people don’t know about these fascinating women who’ve had such an impact on this community.”

Regardless of how the curriculum talks go, the book’s future appears secure– as does Schaffer’s, who participates in Cardinal Choir and Unit 2 of Lincoln’s Constitution Team.

Interested students can either check out “Notable Women of Portland” from the Lincoln library or purchase it from any number of local bookstores.