The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.
BACKGROUND and HISTORY
The League grew out of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, the organization that spearheaded the 72 year drive to give American Women voting rights. Both the National and our State Leagues were formed in 1920, the year women's suffrage was written into the Constitution.
Carrie Chapman Catt, center, in white, leads a group of suffragists in a New York City parade staged in the fall of 1917 to gain support for woman suffrage. The required constitutional amendment was finally ratified by the necessary 36 states and officially proclaimed on August 26, 1920. To the left, in academic robes is Dr. Anna Howard Shaw, a distinguished minister, physician and suffragist. Mrs. Catt was president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, which was dissolved when women got the vote. The League of Women Voters was formed in its place.
Immediately, the League took up the task of educating 20 million women on how to carry out their responsibilities as voters. The League's "founding mothers" also quickly established two features that have remained with the League throughout its history. They enlarged the scope of League work to include service not just to women voters, but to all citizens. Realizing that voters have to do more than vote if citizens are to have a real chance to shape public policy, they made political action a keystone in the League's multi-faceted agenda.
Since 1920 The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, has fought to improve our systems of government and impact public policies through citizen education and advocacy. The League's enduring vitality and resonance comes from its unique decentralized structure. The League is a grassroots organization, working at the national, state and local levels.
Over time, the League's legislative priorities change to reflect the needs of society and critical issues of concern. The organization remains true to its basic purpose: to make democracy work for all citizens.
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.
There are Leagues in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Hong Kong, in addition to the hundreds of local Leagues nationwide. The League of Women Voters of the United States and the League of Women Voters Education Fund operate at the national level with grassroots support from state and local Leagues.
OUR LOCAL LEAGUE
Our local League of Women Voters of
Wisconsin Rapids Area was formed in 1969. One of our first projects that year was the preparation of a Know Your Town Publication which was distributed in 1970. Since then we have studied and taken action on a number of local issues as well as state and national issues that we joined together with other Leagues around the country to study and act upon. Some of our earlier local studies were A Study of the Feasibility of the Proposed Nuclear Power Plant for the Rudolph Area and the advisability of a new Wisconsin Rapids high school. Numerous local studies and activities followed these though the years. (See our "Activities"
for more about our past and present activities and our
"Study and Actions"
for our latest interests.)
After men were invited to join our organization we were happy to have as a new member our first man in 1976. Although most of our members are women we have had several men members over the years. You may wonder why we have not changed the name. It was considered by the National League when men were first invited to join, but if we abandoned the first name it would be possible for another group to use it. We thought this might be a terrible mistake if their purposes and aims were not the same as ours. So the name change was not made.
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