“Creating a More Perfect Democracy”
For nearly 100 years the League has stood strong, growing into the vital force we are today. Today we are changing our political system and supporting millions of voters. Across the country, we continue to have impact in all 50 states, from local communities to the halls of Congress.
HISTORY OF lwv
In 1920, our founder Carrie Chapman Catt believed that within five years, a League of Women Voters could give millions of women voters a crash course in civic engagement. Then she hoped to launch them into the American political system.
Eventually, the League became a safe-haven for women, regardless of formal party affiliation. Here they could find their voices on issues that mattered to them.
One early leader described it like this. The League is “like a university without walls … whose members enter to learn and remain to shape the curriculum.” Over the nearly 10 decades of our existence, the League of Women Voters has applied the lessons learned in our earliest days to engage and empower all voters.
CELEBRating the 100th anniversary
LWVKC joins more than 700 other local and state chapters to celebrate these historic milestones. As we look to a vibrant future on the threshold of our next 100 years, the League is excited that dedicated members across the country continue to steadily attract significant numbers of activists who share the League’s commitment to Making Democracy Work.
The League of Women Voters of the United States president, Chris Carson, issued the following statement regarding the League’s efforts ahead. “Today we are faced with many challenges that threaten to compromise our democracy. Our efforts to support voting rights and to fight against voter suppression and discrimination at the local, state and national levels have been very successful. This has been achieved primarily by educating and empowering voters, circulating special petitions, and intervening in several critical court cases.”
modern work of the LWV
One hundred years after the League’s founding in 1920, members of the League are proud of the great progress achieved when it comes to truly Making Democracy Work. Yet there is much work still to be done.
The League’s historic commitment to register, educate and mobilize voters is not only stronger, but more effective than ever. Recently, the League has activated the web site for VOTE411.org—a cutting-edge election information website utilized by millions of voters each election cycle.
Sue Fortune, President of the LWV of Klamath County says, “We’ll also continue to push for improved access to health care. We also recognize that Climate Change is a scientific reality that must be addressed to ensure a sustainable planet for everyone. We will continue to study local issues and educate our community as to what we find.” We hope men and women in Klamath will join our ranks to work for the good of our community.
In 2020 the League of Women Voters (LWV) will celebrate its 100th anniversary. The League of Women Voters of Oregon (LWVOR) joins more than 700 other local and state chapters to celebrate this historic milestone.
ABOUT THE 100th ANNIVERSARY: “Creating a More Perfect Democracy”
As the League of Women Voters prepares to celebrate our first centennial, collectively we will reflect on our history, showcase our current role as leaders in democracy, and set the stage for vibrant growth over the next century.
The League is proud of our rich history tied to the suffrage movement. We are the only organization founded before the 19th Amendment that is still in existence today.
In 2020 we will tell our stories and to showcase the impact of the League in our accomplishments at the local, state and federal levels.
Today the League is setting the stage for vibrant growth over the next century, with a new generation of leaders with the continued passion for active participation in government.
A Timeline of Historical Events
100 years ago, the U.S. House voted on passage of the 19th Amendment. Passage and ratification of the 19th Amendment meant that women across America would have the right to vote and make their voices heard on key policy development over the next hundred years.
After Congress passed the 19th Amendment in 1919, but before it was ratified in August of 1920, the same suffragists—who had fought for nearly a century to gain the right to vote for women—formed the League of Women Voters (LWV).
In February 1920, after a 72-year struggle, passage of the 19th Amendment appeared to be imminent. Members of the National American Woman Suffrage Association met in Chicago to form the National League of Women Voters. From the start, the nonpartisan organization had a dual purpose. “To foster education in citizenship and to support improved legislation.” Today these two purposes of education and advocacy are still central to the LWV mission to “encourage informed and active participation in government.”
lwv origins in oregon
Several Oregon women were among the 2000 delegates to the NAWSA where the League of Women Voters was formed. One of them was Effie Simmons (Mrs. C.B. Simmons). Later, she became a member of the first board of directors of the National League of Women Voters and the regional director for the LWV in the states of Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington. Mrs. Simmons came back to Oregon to form the “Oregon Branch of the National League of Women Voters” in Portland in March 1920.
From that date on, many Leagues were activated across Oregon. League of Women Voters Klamath County was founded in 1972. One of our founding members was Nina Pence. Her biography is quite a story and deserves our recognition during the coming 100th anniversary.
Below is a list of publications and films on the League’s history, women’s suffrage including information on Carrie Chapman Catt and the National American Woman’s Suffrage Association (NAWSA).
- FIND BOOKS AT AMAZON OR OTHER BOOK SELLERS.
- Born for Liberty: A History of Women in America – Sara M. Evans (1989, 1997)
- Carrie Chapman Catt: A Life of Leadership – Nate Levin (1999)
- Carrie Chapman Catt: Feminist Politician – Robert Booth Fowler (1986)
- Century of Struggle: The Women’s Rights Movement in the United States – Eleanor Flexner and Ellen Fitzpatrick (1959, 1975)
- Divided We Stand: The Battle Over Women’s Rights and Family Values That Polarized American Politics Marjorie Spruill (2017)
- For the Public Record: A Documentary History of the League of Women Voters – Barbara Stuhler (2003)
- The Ideas of the Woman Suffrage Movement 1890 – 1920 – Aileen S. Kraditor (1965, 1981)
- Idols, Victims, Pioneers: Virginia’s Women from 1607 – James Wamsley with Anne Cooper (1976)
- In League with Eleanor: Eleanor Roosevelt and the League of Women Voters 1921-1962 – Hilda R. Watrous (1984)
- In the Public Interest: The League of Women Voters 1920 – 1970 – Louise M. Young (1989)
- One Woman, One Vote: Rediscovering the Women’s Suffrage Movement (FILM) (1995)
- One Woman, One Vote: Rediscovering the Women’s Suffrage Movement – Marjorie Spruill Wheeler (1995)
- The Paradox of Gender Equality: How American Women’s Groups Gained and Lost Their Public Voice – Kristin A. Goss (2013)
- Sustaining the League of Women Voters in America – Maria Hoyt Cashin (2012, 2013)
- Voting Down the Rose: Florence Brooks Whitehouse & Maine’s Fight for Woman Suffrage – Anne B. Gass (2014)
- Winning the Vote: The Triumph of the American Woman Suffrage Movement – Robert P. J. Cooney, Jr. (2005)
- Woman Suffrage and the New Democracy – Sara Hunter Graham (1996)
- New Women of the New South – Marjorie Spruill Wheeler (1993)