Making Democracy Work

History of the League

The League of Women Voters started after women got the right to vote.

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 also League History from the League of Women Voters of the US.

History of the League in Delta County

The Delta County League was organized in 1951 as the Escanaba League of Women Voters. The name change to Delta County came many years later to be inclusive of the members from the surrounding areas. Throughout the years, the LWVDC member activities have changed in relation to the size of the membership. However, the LWVDC has always kept it's focus on Voter Services. We are respected in our community for non-partisan candidate forums and voter education. Our printed Voter Guides in election years are sought out, and we actively promote the use of Vote411 as an online tool. We do act in coalition with the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and the Delta County Chamber of Commerce to sponsor our candidate forums. We present public programs on timely topics. In the past, we have partnered with the Escanaba Public Library to bring programs to our citizens. At present, we are mentoring the newly formed Marquette Unit, as they strive to become a full-fledged League. In the process of doing that, we hope to re-energize our local membership to reinstate activities, such as the Observer Corp.

History of the League in Marquette County

MARQUETTE COUNTY, MI + The League of Women Voters of Delta County, Marquette County Unit is pleased to announce the reestablishment of the League in Marquette County. The League has had a rich and long history in Marquette County. In 1968 a provisional Marquette County League formally organized with 46 charter members. For almost 40 years they thrived and grew with a reported high of 120 members. They provided many voter and educational services to the community until they saw membership numbers dwindle and the same small group of women found themselves responsible for the leadership roles. In 2006 with great regret the group disbanded. However, even at that time they remained hopeful that the League would reemerge for Marquette County. A charter member from 1968, was quoted as saying; "Maybe it will arise that they'll need us one more time, and hopefully someone else can jump in" (Mining Journal 8-18-06). The time is right for the League to begin its work again in Marquette County. Citizens are craving reliable, accurate, fair and impartial information and that's what the League can provide. The League is an historic, respected and trusted organization. As the new Unit's name implies, the "League of Women Voters of Delta County, Marquette County Unit" will be operating under the governance of the Delta County League for a period of time. This will allow the new group to learn more about the mission, policies and practices of the League. The Marquette group is fortunate to have mentors from the Delta County League and former Marquette County League members to provide guidance and leadership as the Marquette group grows. The League's mission statement is that "The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy". The new Marquette County geographic unit will be working toward those ideals.