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The League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Columbus

About the League of Women Voters

History

The League of Women Voters was founded by Carrie Chapman Catt during the 1920 convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. The convention was held only six months before the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave women the right to vote after a 72-year struggle.

National History

The League began as a “mighty political experiment” designed to help 20 million women carry out their new responsibilities as voters. It encouraged them to use their new power to participate in shaping public policy. From the beginning, the League was an activist, grassroots organization. Its leaders believed that citizens should play a critical role in advocacy. It was then – and is now – a nonpartisan organization. League founders believed that maintaining a nonpartisan stance would protect the fledgling organization from becoming mired in the party politics of the day. However, League members were (and are) encouraged to be political themselves by educating citizens about, and lobbying for, government and social reform legislation supported by a consensus of members.

Today, the League of Women Voters is an organization of women and men. There are state-level Leagues in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Hong Kong, as well as hundreds of local Leagues nationwide. Our local League works hand in hand with our state and national offices to provide comprehensive services to voters, substantive citizen education on important issues, and targeted grassroots advocacy – from City Hall to the Statehouse to the U.S. Capitol.

Local History

Thirty-six states ratified the Nineteenth Amendment; Ohio was one of these. In fact, it was the sixth state to do so, along with Kansas and New York, on June 16, 1919.

The Franklin County League, later to become the League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Columbus, was founded in 1919, seven months before the Ohio League and ten months before the U.S. League.

At first, the League in Columbus held citizenship schools for new voters. An early “New Voters Party” filled the ballroom of the Neil House and considerably enlarged the membership list. The League sponsored candidate nights and began publication of pre-election circulars, predecessors of the Voter Information Bulletin, which has acquired a reputation for accurate and unbiased presentation of information.

While voter education has been at the heart of activity through the years, Columbus League members have also devoted countless hours to the study of public issues and good-government advocacy through the decades:

(Compiled by Ellen Haider)

More Information

For more information about the League’s rich history of making democracy work, check out For the Public Record: A Documentary History of the League of Women Voters. See also: