Making Democracy Work

LWV 100th Birthday

2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the national League of Women Voters on February 14 and the Massachusetts League of Women Voters on May 27. The 19th amendment, giving women the right to vote, was adopted on August 26, 1920.

Update on Lexington Events for the 100th Anniversary Year

The Cary Memorial Library has arranged for virtual presentation of scheduled speakers of particular interest to League members. The Lexington League will be co-sponsoring the following events:

  • Victoria A. Budson: "The Essential Role of Women in Politics." Virginia Budson is the founder and Executive Director of the Women and Public Policy Program at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She originated a training program which prepares women to run for public office and has trained graduate students from across the world. Institutions in many countries consult her training methodology to increase gender equity in their political leadership. Ms. Budson has provided consulting to the US House of Representatives and the US Senate, the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and Department of State, the White House Council on Women and Girls, and the US Military, among others. This presentation will compare the level of participation of women and girls in the political process in the United States with that in other nations, and address the serious ramifications when women do not have 'a seat at the table'. **The online program is scheduled for Thursday, July 23, from 7PM to 8:30PM and requires advance registration as space is limited. The Library will send out a program link by email on July 22. For more information contact caryprograms@minlit.net.

  • Tina Cassidy: "Mr. President, How Long Must We Wait? Alice Paul, Woodrow Wilson and the Fight for the Right to Vote". Ms. Cassidy, a former reporter for the Boston Globe is the author of a number of books on history and politics. Her talk is scheduled for Tuesday, July 28.

  • Sheryl Faye: "Susan B. Anthony - Failure is Impossible". In this one-woman performance, Ms. FAye presents one of the most prominent figures in the women's suffrage movement who fought for passage to eh 19th Amendment and other rights for women. This performance is scheduled for Wednesday, August 5.

The physical re-opening date of Cary Memorial Library remains uncertain, so the Lexington League's presentation on League History and Women's Suffrage on the Cary Memorial Library "Idea Wall" will be deferred.

LWVMA 100th Anniversary Webinar Historian and author Barbara Berenson will be presenting After Suffrage: The Campaign for the Equal Rights Amendment, 1920-2020. Her talk will be on Tuesday, June 2 at 7PM. Registration is required and limited to 500 people. To register click HERE.

Founding of the LWVUS

In 1909, Emma Smith DeVoe proposed to the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) that an organization be created to educate women on the election process in anticipation of the ratification of the 19th Amendment (the in process), and to lobby for legislation favorable to women's issues. In 1911, she founded the National Council of Women Voters and recruited western suffragists and organizations to join.

In 1919, Carrie Chapman Catt began negotiating with DeVoe to merge her organization into a new League that would be the successor to NAWSA. Catt was concerned that DeVoe's organization was too closely aligned with the more radical efforts of Alice Paul, which might discourage conservative women from joining. A motion for the merger was made at the 1919 NAWSA convention, and the formal merger was completed at the convention on February 14, 1920, just six months before women's suffrage became law in the United States in August. The more politically astute Carrie Chapman Catt has since been recognized as the founder of the League of Women Voters.

The LWVUS has continued to be active in the 100 years since, with state Leagues established in all 50 states and some local Leagues in communities large and small.