Born out of the suffragist movement just 17 years after Carrie Chapman Catt laid the cornerstone of the National League of Women Voters, the Pasadena League began in 1936 with a group of civic-minded women in the living room of a San Marino home.

Eager to get to work, they established the “Pasadena Unit” only three months after the initial session.  About 100 women convened March 31, 1936, at Pasadena’s public meeting hall, La Casita del Arroyo, to launch the local League of Women Voters. Working out of an office in the Women’s City Club, the fledgling Pasadena LWV quickly moved into local issues, despite a pledge to leave that to the venerable Pasadena Civic League established 25 years earlier.

The boys at city hall were made very much aware that there was an organization of high-minded, low-heeled ladies on the barricade, - said an early League president.

The maverick league also broke the gender barrier in 1974, admitting men members a decade before the national League did. Lee Merriman, editor of the Pasadena Star-News at the time, boasted he was a “card-carrying” League member.

At present, the League works out of an office at The Western Justice Center and continues as a vibrant organization with a membership of about 350 from Pasadena and twelve other communities – Alhambra, Altadena, Arcadia, Bradbury, Duarte, La Canada Flintridge, Monrovia, Monterey Park, San Gabriel, San Marino, Sierra Madre and South Pasadena.

The education and welfare of children, eradication of gender and racial discrimination, responsible government and expanding citizen participation continue as the bedrock of LWV-PA. The League addresses these issues through public forums, monthly discussion groups, a speaker’s bureau for ballot pros and cons, unbiased election materials, candidate forums, voter registration drives, and advocacy efforts.

Here are some highlights decade by decade:

1936-1939 Instrumental in a “street trader law” to protect youths hawking newspapers on the street
1940-1949 Helped save the Pasadena Planning Commission; saw the appointment of two women to the commission. Led tours of City Hall
1950-1959 Published “The Perfect City” as a tool to promote city planning and elimination of blight. Supported establishment of the Redevelopment Commission
1960-1969 Supported separation of the junior college from Pasadena Unified School District. Promoted district-only elections for Pasadena City Council to increase minority representation
1970-1979 Became a plaintiff in a lawsuit charging the Pasadena school district with violation of the Brown Act. Became a Pasadena Area League and second largest League in the state. Supported integration of Pasadena public schools. Supported formation of the Pasadena Commission on the Status of Women. Moved to a storefront office. Hosted the state LWV convention
1980-1989 Supported a bond measure for a new Pasadena police station. Members moved into professions, assumed management positions in influential community organizations and joined city commissions, councils, and school boards
1990-1999 Studied and endorsed Instant Runoff Voting for single-seat elections. Facilitated School-Age Child Care Project. Supported community access TV
2000-2009 Instrumental in passage of Taxpayer Protection Act in Pasadena. Supported Citizen’s Redistricting Commission. Advocated for state universal health care bills


Advocacy efforts on key issues increases