The History of the League
History of the League of Women Voters of the United States
Since 1920 we have been an activist, grassroots organization whose leaders believed that voters should play a critical role in democracy.
The League of Women Voters was founded by Carrie Chapman Catt in 1920 during the convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. The convention was held just six months before the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, giving women the right to vote after a 72-year struggle.
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 has been an activist, grassroots organization
whose 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 encouraged to be political themselves, by educating citizens about,
and lobbying for, government and social reform legislation.
This holds true today. The League is proud to be nonpartisan, neither supporting
nor opposing candidates or political parties at any level of government, but always working on vital issues of concern to members and the public. The League has a long, rich history, that continues with each passing year.
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History of LWV San Jose/Santa Clara
The League of Women Voters of San Jose was established in 1945 with 27 members. The original organization was founded in the same year of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the foundation of the national organization. It soon expanded beyond San Jose and became known as the League of Women Voters of Central Santa Clara Valley, which included San Jose, Santa Clara, Cupertino, and Sunnyvale. In 1973 the organization split, which led to the formation of the League of Women Voters of San Jose/Santa Clara and the League of Women Voters of Cupertino/Sunnyvale.
We have boxes of papers and memorabilia from past years at the San Jose State University Special Collections & Archives.
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