Records of the League of the Women Voters of the District of Columbia, 1930-1982
Collection No. 33 (22.5 Linear ft.)
D.C. Community Archives
ProvenanceWashingtoniana 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.
HistoryAs 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 NoteThe 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.
- 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.
- All Day School thru Anti-discrimination
- Benefits thru Congressional roll calls
- Consumers’ League thru Fiscal policy: U.S.
- Finances, 1930-1940 thru International relations, U.N.
- Juvenile court thru Liberties
- Leadership training thru LWV National Council
- National program, reports to NLWV, 1938-1961
- Office activities thru Publicity
- Public relations thru Publications
- Recreation thru Urban planning and housing
- Urban renewal thru welfare
- Anti-discrimination thru Citizen involvement
- D.C. budget thru D.C. government statistics
- D.C. Government revenues thru Education Committee reports
- Education: higher thru Education, White House Conference
- Employment, 1961-1965 thru Human resources
- International relations thru lobbying
- Metro Council, 1959-1966 thru Observer Corporation
- Positions thru Speakers Bureau
- Urban planning and housing, 1960-1964 (5 folders)
- Urban planning and housing, 1960-1964 (6 folders)
- Voters’ services: election laws thru Welfare
- China study material, 1969
- Potomac Metro Water Basin, 1976-1979
Originally prepared by Leroy Graham in August 1991
Revised by Faye Haskins in October 1998
DC Public Library, Special Collections
DC Community Archives
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