What is the History of the League of Women Voters in Delaware?
The history of the League goes back to 1920, the year that women won the right to vote. Ms. Mabel Lloyd Ridgely was President of both the Delaware Equal Rights Association and the Suffrage Committee of Delaware. From these groups the League of Women Voters of Delaware was founded.
- Some activities of this early League included voters service activities, work toward abolition of child labor and support of school construction in the state, as well as, new highways.
- There is little mention of the League later in the decade. There is some indication that the group lacked organization needed to continue.
- The League reappeared in Delaware in 1953 with the formation of the Newark League.
- The Greater Wilmington League was also founded in 1953 with Evelyn Lord as first president.
- The Laurel League was formed in 1957 and reorganized as the Sussex County League in 1976.
- The Dover League was recognized in 1966.
- The Wilmington and Newark Leagues merged in 1994 to form the League of Women Voters of New Castle County.
- The League of Women Voters of Delaware (LWVDE) was established at a convention in Dover on March 29, 1958.
- In 1960, LWVDE instituted two enduring programs. The first is the Voter’s Guide. The second is League Day in Dover.
- In the 1960s and 1970s League studies on government structure and function included studies of election laws, the state constitution and the state legislature. Environmental studies and the state correction system were added later.
- In 1976, LWVDE celebrated the national bicentennial by publishing Delaware Government: All You Wanted to Know and Didn’t Know Where to Ask.
- In 1977, the Delaware League began dispensing information about voting and government to all newly naturalized citizens. This brought about the Delaware League of Women Voters Education Fund, established in 1985 under the leadership of Terry Dannermann.
- 1995 marked the 75th anniversary of women’s right to vote.
- During 1997-98, campaign financing became a target for reform by both LWVDE and the three local Leagues.
- Prior to the 1998 elections the Delaware League of Women Voters Education Fund, for the first time modified its policy governing the invitation of candidates to participate in forums originating in a television studio.
- In 1999, a completely revised Delaware Government fourth edition was printed.
- In 2002, Delaware Government went online and has again gone through a complete revision and can be accessed on the LWVDE webpage.
The League of Women Voters maintains; its status as an important citizen group in Delaware, active in informing voters of their rights and responsibilities. The LWVDE continues to lobby the state legislature on many vital issues.
|1958 – 61||Norma Handloff||1988 – 93||Joann Hasse|
|1961 – 62||Evelyn Lord||1993 – 95||Carole Walsh|
|1962 – 63||Lorraine Olson||1995 – 97||Cathy DeBovis|
|1963 – 65||Grace Stirba||1997 – 99||Jackie Harris|
|1965 – 67||June MacArtor||1999 – 01||Anita Puglisi|
|4/67 – 9/67||Doris Johnson||2001 – 03||Letty Diswood & Nadyne Robin|
|9/67 – 71||Phyl Laffey||2003 – 05||Joyce Johnson & Sue Soltys|
|1971 – 72||Mary Field||2005 – 07||Christine Stillson|
|1972 – 74||Liz Ryan||2007 – 09||Rashmi Rangan|
|4/74 – 12/74||Jane Tripp||2009 – 11||Sandy Spence|
|1/75 – 4/75||Liz Ryan||2011 – 13||Carol Jones|
|1975 – 76||Marcie Bierlein & Letty Diswood||2013 – 15||Charlotte F. King|
|1976 – 78||Kit Kallal||2015 – 17||Jill Fuchs|
|1978 – 80||Ada Leigh Soles||2017 – 19||Joann Hasse|
|1980 – 82||Ruth Helm||Jul 2019 - Jun 2020||Carol Jones & Sue Claire Harper|
|1982 – 84||Joyce Johnson||Jun - Dec 2020||Carol Jones|
|1984 – 86||Terry Dannemann||Jan - Jun 2021||Sandy Spence|
|4/86 – 12/86||Joann Hasse||Jul 2021 - Present||Gwendolyn Miller|
|1/87 – 9/87||Rita Smith|
|9/87 – 4/88||Liz Ryan|
Several early LWVDE Presidents held positions in local and state government. Besides Norma Handloff, these included Marcie Bierlein, June MacArtor, and Jane Tripp.