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League of Women Voters & Carrie Chapman Catt

GFWC clubwoman and suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt proposed the need for a new organization to form and “finish the fight” at the 1919 National American Woman Suffrage Association’s Convention. Just ten years earlier in 1909 Emma Smith DeVoe, founder of the National Council of Women Voters (NCWV), had expressed a similar sentiment. She believed that a separate organization needed to be created to educate women on the election process and teach them how to lobby for their own interests.

In 1919, Chapman Catt and Devoe entered into talks about what their new group might look like. Although the two ultimately decided to merge their groups, Catt had concerns that the NCWV’s alignment with more radical suffragists might push some conservative supporters away. However, less than a year later, on February 14, 1920 the League of Women Voters was founded as “a mighty experiment.” The league was founded just six months before the 19th Amendment was passed and was still three states away from ratification.

Since 1920, the League has helped women to take a larger role in public affairs. Like GFWC, it is a nonpartisan organization that does not support particular candidates but helps women to make educated civic choices. The League of Women Voters has sponsored presidential debates, as well as debates for local governments. They also created National Voter Registration Day and run a plethora of programs designed to register voters and ensure a fair and democratic voting process.


Article adopted from gfwc.org.


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