History of the League

History of the League

What is the History of LWV of Butte County?

The League of Women Voters of Butte County was launched in 1966 and has made its mark on the county, observing at meetings of governmental organizations, registering and educating voters about local and state initiatives, providing voter registration and information on a range of issues, studying land use, water, health care, education, juvenile justice, to name just a few.

Because of its non-partisan stance and its rational and information-based response to community issues, our League has earned the trust of citizens. We adhere to a set of principles as follows:

The League of Women Voters believes that democratic government depends upon informed and active participation by its citizens and that government bodies must protect the citizens right to know by giving notice of proposed actions, holding open meetings and making public records accessible.

The League of Women Voters believes that every citizen should be assured the right to vote; that every person should have access to free public education which provides equal opportunity for all; and that no person or group should suffer legal, economic, or administrative discrimination.

The League of Women Voters believes that efficient and economical government requires competent personnel, clear assignment of responsibility, adequate financing, and coordination among the different agencies and levels of government.

The League of Women Voters believes that responsible government should maintain an equitable and flexible system of taxation, promote the conservation and development of natural resources in the public interest, share in the solution of economic and social problems that affect the general welfare, promote a sound economy, and adopt domestic policies that facilitate the solution of international problems.

The League of Women Voters believes that cooperation with other nations is essential in the search for solutions to world problems and that the development of international organization and international law is essential in the promotion of world peace.

The League of Women Voters has studied and developed positions on matters in three general areas: government, human resources, and natural resources. These positions are called the League Program. Their goals are as follows:

  1. To promote an open governmental system that is representative, accountable, and responsible to all citizens and that protects individual liberties as established in the Constitution.
  2. To promote social justice by securing equal rights for all and combating discrimination and poverty.
  3. To promote the wise management of natural resources in the public interest and an environment beneficial to all life.

The Butte County League Program has included:

  • Butte County Government: Charter
  • Housing
  • Juvenile Justice
  • Health Care Delivery
  • Energy
  • Water Resources of Butte County
  • Bidwell Park
  • Land Use and Planning
  • Education
  • Butte County Budgeting Process

What is the History of the League of Women Voters?

In her address to the National American Woman Suffrage Association's (NAWSA) 50th convention in St. Louis, Missouri, President Carrie Chapman Catt proposed the creation of a "league of women voters to finish the fight and aid in the reconstruction of the nation." Women Voters was formed within the NAWSA, composed of the organizations in the states where suffrage had already been attained. The next year, on February 14, 1920 - six months before the 19th amendment to the Constitution was ratified - the League was formally organized in Chicago as the national League of Women Voters. Catt described the purpose of the new organization:

The League of Women Voters is not to dissolve any present organization but to unite all existing organizations of women who believe in its principles. It is not to lure women from partisanship but to combine them in an effort for legislation which will protect coming movements, which we cannot even foretell, from suffering the untoward conditions which have hindered for so long the coming of equal suffrage. Are the women of the United States big enough to see their opportunity?

Maud Wood Park became the first national president of the League and thus the first League leader to rise to the challenge. She had steered the women's suffrage amendment through Congress in the last two years before ratification and liked nothing better than legislative work. From the very beginning, however, it was apparent that the legislative goals of the League were not exclusively focused on women's issues and that citizen education aimed at all of the electorate was in order.

Since its inception, the League has helped millions of women and men become informed participants in government. In fact, the first league convention voted 69 separate items as statements of principle and recommendations for legislation. Among them were protection for women and children, right of working women, food supply and demand, social hygiene, the legal status of women, and American citizenship.The League's first major national legislative success was the passage of the Sheppard-Towner Act providing federal aid for maternal and child care programs. In the 1930's, League members worked successfully for enactment of the Social Security and Food and Drug Acts. Due at least in part to League efforts, legislation passed in 1938 and 1940 removed hundreds of federal jobs from the spoils system and placed them under Civil Service.

During the postwar period, the League helped lead the effort to establish the United Nations and to ensure U.S. Participation. The League was one of the first organizations in the country officially recognized by the United Nations as a non-governmental organization; it still maintains official observer status today.

See the History section of the League of Women Voters of the US website.