Records of the League of the Women Voters of the District of Columbia, 1930-1982

Records of the League of the Women Voters of the District of Columbia, 1930-1982

Finding Aid

Collection No. 33 (22.5 Linear ft.)
D.C. Community Archives

Provenance

Washingtoniana received its first donation of records from the League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia in 1981 from Sue Panzer, President of the League.  Subsequent donations have been received periodically from League members.

History

As a result of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, the National League of Women Voters (NLWV) was established to educate women on how to vote and to provide information on public issues.

On May 26, 1921, a meeting was called in the home of Mrs. Gifford Pinchot to form a District of Columbia branch of the National League of Women Voters. League charter members included Mrs. Frank Hiram Snell, Mrs. J. Borden Harriman, Mrs. Grace Chamberlain, Judge Mary O’Toole, Miss Harleen James, and Mrs. Louis Brownlow. Famous members of the League have included First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Mrs. A.J. McKelway, wife of the editor of the Evening Star.

In 1926, the League adopted the name “The Voteless District of Columbia League of Women Voters” to emphasize the District’s disenfranchisement. Since its inception, the League’s consistent and primary focus has been to educate and lobby for greater self-government for the citizens of the District of Columbia.    

The D.C. League has worked on a variety of issues important to the District as well as national and international issues supported by the NWLV. During the 1930s and 1940s, the League conducted studies regarding public assistance relief and child welfare in the District, supported home front mobilization efforts during World War II, D.C. government reorganization, juvenile court changes, child labor laws, the 40-hour work week, and improvement of D.C. schools.

Starting in the 1940s, the League began working for better race relations and supporting civil rights in the Nation’s capital. The League, as early as the late 1940s, supported desegregating District schools, and anti-discrimination laws in federal government employment and federal housing.  

In the 1950s and 1960s, the League focused much of its attention on gaining suffrage and achieving home rule.

By the 1980s the League had positions on a number of public policy issues, such as support of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs), a rapid rail system, urban planning, ERA ratification, and gun control laws with qualified support for the University of the District of Columbia and Statehood for the District.

The League, which began as an organization to educate new women voters, now prints a Voters Guide each election, sponsors a speakers bureau, conducts political debates, and advocates for a number of public policy issues for all D.C. citizens.

Scope and Content Note

The collection contains clippings and alphabetically arranged office files maintained by the League to document its activities.  Topics in the records cover primarily local D.C. political issues but also national and international concerns of the National League of Women Voters.   The records are divided into two series: topical files and clippings.  

Series Descriptions

Series I:  Topical Files, 1960-1979 (10 linear ft.)

This series contains office files that contain correspondence, reports, proposals, newsletters, and programs on a variety of topics and issues of concern to the League. The series also contains files on the League’s operations, including its by-laws, reports to the National League, and information on the League’s Speakers Bureau. The series is further arranged chronologically into subseries. The first series covers Pre-1960 files with subsequent subseries generally covering one or two decades. Within each subseries, the folders are arranged alphabetically by topic.
  • Subseries 1:  Pre-1960 files, 1930-1960 (4.5 linear ft.) Significant topics included in the 1960 files are urban renewal, the Consumer’s League, juvenile court law revision in the 1930s, recreation, urban housing, anti-discrimination, child welfare, foreign policy, and an all-day school proposal.    
  • Subseries 2: 1960-1969 files (4.5 linear ft.) Post-1960 topics include education, urban planning, the Metro Council, minimum wage, voter education, and election law reform.  The files also contain files on international issues such as foreign relations and trade and opposition to totalitarian regimes.   
  • Subseries 3: 1970-1979 files (1 linear ft.) Files regarding the Potomac Metro Water Basin (1976-1979) and materials from a 1960 study of foreign relations with China are included in this subseries.

Series II:  Clippings, 1960-1982 (2.5 linear ft.)

This series contains clippings compiled by League members and staff regarding political issues of concern to the League.  Home rule, the D.C. budget, D.C. public officials, civil rights, health, higher education, public schools, transportation, and taxes are only a few of the public policy issues covered by the clippings.

Box Inventory

Series I: Topical files

Subseries 1: Pre-1960 files

Box 1

  • All Day School thru Anti-discrimination

Box 2

  • Benefits thru Congressional roll calls

Box 3

  • Consumers’ League thru Fiscal policy: U.S.

Box 4

  • Finances, 1930-1940 thru International relations, U.N.

Box 5

  • Juvenile court thru Liberties

Box 6

  • Leadership training thru LWV National Council

Box 7

  • National program, reports to NLWV, 1938-1961

Box 8

  • Office activities thru Publicity

Box 9

  • Public relations thru Publications

Box 10

  • Recreation thru Urban planning and housing

Box 11

  • Urban renewal thru welfare

Subseries 2: 1960-1969 files

Box 12

  • Anti-discrimination thru Citizen involvement

Box 13

  • D.C. budget thru D.C. government statistics

Box 14

  • D.C. Government revenues thru Education Committee reports

Box 15

  • Education: higher thru Education, White House Conference

Box 16

  • Employment, 1961-1965 thru Human resources

Box 17

  • International relations thru lobbying

Box 18

  • Metro Council, 1959-1966 thru Observer Corporation

Box 19

  • Positions thru Speakers Bureau

Box 20

  • Urban planning and housing, 1960-1964 (5 folders)

Box 21

  • Urban planning and housing, 1960-1964 (6 folders)

Box 22

  • Voters’ services: election laws thru Welfare

Subseries 3: 1969-1979 files

Box 23

  • China study material, 1969

Box 24

  • Potomac Metro Water Basin, 1976-1979

Series II: Clippings

Box 25

  • 1960-1968

Box 26

  • 1969-1971

Box 27

  • 1972-1973

Box 28

  • 1974-1977

Box 29

  • 1978-1979

Box 30

  • 1980-1981

Box 31

  • 1982

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Originally prepared by Leroy Graham in August 1991
Revised by Faye Haskins in October 1998

DC Public Library, Special Collections
DC Community Archives
202-727-2272
archives.dcpl@dc.gov

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