The League of Women Voters (LWV) is the direct descendant of the U.S. woman suffrage movement of the mid-19th to early 20th century. At the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) National Convention in 1920, held at the Congress Hotel in Chicago, IL, NAWSA president Carrie Chapman Catt proposed a merger of several suffrage groups to create a new organization that would help newly enfranchised women learn how to register, how to vote, how to learn about their candidates, and how to learn about the workings of their governments. Six months before the ratification of the 19th Amendment, the National League of Women Voters came into existence and immediately began fulfilling its mission. In Pennsylvania, the League set out immediately to help cities like Pittsburgh and Philadelphia register thousands of women and teach them how to vote. For more information about the history of the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, check out our publication 50 Years and Proud of It.
Over the years, LWV has broadened its mission and its reach, with hundreds of Leagues in every state of the Union, the US Virgin Islands, and Hong Kong. In addition to voter service, League leadership also decided that the organization would work towards “needed legislation”, and has, since the beginning, taken positions on issues that matter to members.
The League of Women Voters of the U.S. provides a League history detailing the significant events of each decade from 1920 to 2010.
“As we kick off the centennial year of women winning the right to vote, we mustn’t romanticize the story of the 19th Amendment. The truth is, progress towards a more perfect democracy is often messy, and the 19th Amendment did not break down voting barriers for all women—and even today, there is more work to be done …” Virginia Kase, CEO of the LWV