The League of Women Voters is founded in 1920
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.
Also see this fuller history of the League of Women Voters Through the Decades!
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Women's Suffrage Timeline
From Santa Clara County’s “Women’s Equality 2020” (See here.)
This timeline is a chronological overview of the women's suffrage movement. While it covers dates ranging from 1840 to 2020, it is August 26th, 1920 that marks the legislative success of the women's suffrage movement.
Content of the timeline is drawn in part from summary and expanded timelines from websites posted in Santa Clara County’s “Women’s Equality 2020" Resources.
1840 Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton are barred from attending the World Anti-Slavery Convention held in London. This prompts them to hold a Women’s Convention in the US.
1848 The first women’s rights convention is held in Seneca Falls, New York. Elizabeth Cady Stanton writes “The Declaration of Sentiments,” creating the agenda of women’s activism for decades to come.
1850 The first National Women’s Rights Convention happens in Worcester, Massachusetts.
1866 Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony form the American Equal Rights Association, an organization dedicated to suffrage for all regardless of gender or race.
1869 The women’s rights movement splits as a result of disagreements over the 14th and 15th Amendments. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony form the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA). Lucy Stone, Henry Blackwell, and Julia Ward Howe organize the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA).
1872 Susan B. Anthony is arrested for voting for Ulysses S. Grant in the presidential election. Fifteen other women are also arrested for illegally voting.
1878 A Woman Suffrage Amendment is proposed in the United States Congress.
1890 The National Women Suffrage Association, and the American Women Suffrage Association, merge to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA).
1893 After attending a meeting of the Jewish Women’s Congress at the Columbian Exposition, Hannah Greenbaum Solomon founds the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW). Colorado becomes the first state to adopt an amendment granting women the right to vote.
1896 The National Association of Colored Women is formed, bringing together more than 100 Black women’s clubs.
1911 California grants women the right to vote.
1912 The Women’s Suffrage campaign is supported for the first time at the national level by a major political party, Theodore Roosevelt’s Bull Moose Party.
1914 The National Federation of Women’s Clubs, which by this time included more than two million white women and women of color throughout the United States, formally endorses the suffrage campaign.
1916 Jeannette Rankin of Montana becomes the first American woman elected to represent in the U.S. House of Representatives.
1919 The federal Woman Suffrage Amendment, originally written by Susan B. Anthony and introduced in Congress in 1878, is passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate. It is then sent to the states for ratification.
[LWVPA adds: 1920 February 14, the League was formally organized in Chicago as the National League of Women Voters.]
1920 On August 26th, The 19th Amendment, which grants women the right to vote, is signed into law.
1925 American Indian Suffrage Act passed by Congress.
1933 Frances Perkins was the first woman to serve in the cabinet. She was a key player in writing the New Deal legislation, including setting minimum-wage laws.
1935 Mary McLeod Bethune organizes the National Council of Negro Women, a coalition of Black women’s groups that lobbies against job discrimination, racism, and sexism.
1940 Margaret Chase Smith becomes the first woman to serve in both the House and the Senate.
1962 Native Americans gain voting rights in all states.
1972 Shirley Chisholm becomes the first Black female major-party presidential candidate.
1981 Sandra Day O’Connor is appointed by President Ronald Reagan to serve as the first woman on the Supreme Court.
2005 Condoleezza Rice becomes the first Black female Secretary of State.
2007 Nancy Pelosi becomes the first female speaker of the House.
2008 Sarah Palin becomes the Republicans’ first female vice-presidential nominee.
2009 Sonia Sotomayor is nominated as the 111th U.S. Supreme Court Justice, becoming the first Hispanic American and the third woman to serve.
2016 Hillary Clinton went from first lady in the 1990s to the first female presidential nominee of a major U.S. party in 2016.
2017 Nikki Haley became the first Indian American to serve in a Cabinet-level position when President Trump selected her to serve as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Catherine Cortez Masto is the first Latina elected to the United States Senate.
[LWVPA adds: 2020 February 14, the League of Women Voters of the United States celebrated its 100th year.]
2020 On August 26th, honoring and celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Women’s Right to Vote in the United States.