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:
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.
What is the History of the League of Women Voters in South Carolina?
For decades, the League of Women Voters of South Carolina dated its foundation back to 1951 when it was created by the Charleston
, and Spartanburg
Leagues. Then an exciting discovery was found in former LWVSC President Barbara Moxon's papers donated by her daughter to the South Carolina Political Collection (SCPC) of the University of South Carolina Library.
The New Voter, a seventy-four-page booklet published to assist its readers with a tutorial on government and elections, lays out an earlier history of the League in South Carolina.
According to The New Voter published by the South Carolina League of Women Voters in 1921, the South Carolina Equal Suffrage League, which had worked to pass the 19th Amendment, was renamed the South Carolina League of Women Voters "to safeguard and advance the legal, industrial and educational rights of women and to raise the standard of American citizenship by working for a more intelligent electorate."
You can read more about former LWVSC President Laurel Suggs's donation of her mother's papers and the discovery of The New Voter
in the SCPC's A Capital Blog post by Kate Moore on July 15, 2016, New Frontiers: The South Carolina League of Women Voters in 1921
. LWVSC continues the tradition of publishing an SC government primer Know Your State