The National League of Women Voters

  Board of Directors National League of Women Voters Chicago Convention, February 1920

Board of Directors National League of Women Voters Chicago Convention, February 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 (giving women the right to vote after a 72-year struggle) was ratified.

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.

History of the Wisconsin League of Women Voters

On June 10, 1919, Wisconsin became the first state to ratify the 19th amendment granting national suffrage to women.

The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin was founded in 1920 as a nonpartisan political organization dedicated to improving our systems of government and to impacting public policies through citizen education and advocacy. The League is a national network of concerned women and men who act to make a difference in the lives of citizens with the energy and passion of members committed to our principles.

The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Education Network operates at the state level with grassroots support from 17 local Leagues. We are part of The League of Women Voters of the United States, with 900 state and local Leagues comprising a vast citizen lobby corps in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Hong Kong.

The League of Women Voters is wholeheartedly political, working to influence policy through advocacy. However, the League remains a nonpartisan organization, neither supporting nor opposing candidates for office at any level of government. It is the original grassroots citizen network, directed by the consensus of its members and mobilized whenever necessary.

Over time, the League's legislative priorities have changed to reflect the needs of society and critical issues of concern. Yet the organization remains true to its basic purpose: to make democracy work for all citizens.

The League of Women Voters through the Decades