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 19thAmendment 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 pole 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.
Today there are Leagues in every state, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands with about 130,000 members and supporters. In 1974, men were admitted as full voting members to the League.
League of Women Voters of Florida
The Florida League was formed in 1939 by three local Leagues then in existence: St. Petersburg, Winter Haven and Winter Park-Orlando. Now there are 32 local Leagues in the most populous counties with thousands of members and supporters. One of the League’s very first issues, which we have almost seen to fruition, is the need to reduce, and end gerrymandering. It was one of the first issues the League identified to work on back in 1939.
League of Women Voters of Tallahassee
The Tallahassee League was formed in about 1956. There is no written history of LWVT but documents held in archives could be used to construct a chronology of LWVT history.