100 Years Strong League of Women Voters
1920 - 2020
In 2019 and 2020, the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin will observe Centennial anniversaries for three seminal moments in the history of the League and our democracy:
June 10, 1919 - Wisconsin is the first state to ratify the 19th Amendment
February 14, 1920 - The League of Women Voters is founded
August 26, 1920 - The 19th Amendment declared in effect following final ratification on August 18, 1920
The right to vote didn’t come easy for the majority of people who now make up the citizenry of the United States. That’s to say, in our history – the histories of people of color, women, and young people – there has been a struggle, a fight for the right to vote.
The League of Women Voters was born from such a struggle. Wisconsin was the first state to ratify the Amendment in 1919 that would give women the right to vote by August 26, 1920 when the 19th Amendment was finally included into the US Constitution. In 1920, the League was formed on the premise that a nonpartisan civic organization could provide the education and experience the public needed to assure the success of democracy. Founder Carrie Chapman Catt born in Ripon, WI exclaimed the League was formed to “finish the fight” to win national woman suffrage. Yet within the struggle for the right to vote, we left some of our sisters behind when the 75-year fight for votes for women didn’t include securing these rights for women of color. And that struggle continued for decades until the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
And now today, across the states, barriers to voting are being erected to disenfranchise communities of color, people of low-income, students, and people with disabilities. Yet all eligible voters should be able to cast a ballot confidently, proudly, and without additional requirements that prevent them from voting. It is clear that the “fight” remains unfinished. From this vantage point, looking back while planning ahead, we’re committed to remembering and commemorating the accomplishments of all those who fought for our right to vote while advocating for voting reforms and defending democracy. And that the work of the League is needed as much now as it was at its founding.
In this spirit, local Leagues throughout Wisconsin are planning educational and commemorative Centennial events and activities in their hometowns and regional communities in 2019 and 2020. LWVWI is engaged in similar commemorative Centennial event planning at the state level. The League’s Centennial Events Calendar will keep everyone informed and aware of what is happening, where and when.
The Centennial Events Calendar posts Centennial programs, activities and events hosted or co-hosted by local Wisconsin Leagues and those sponsored or co-sponsored by LWVWI. To have your local League event added to the calendar, please contact Ellen Penwell in the LWVWI office at 608-256-0827 or by email at epenwell [at] lwvwi.org. Please provide the event title, date and a link to further information.
Toolkits for local Leagues have been developed by LWVWI and LWVUS to help local Leagues plan for and message Centennial events with consistency through shared content.
- VIsion 2020 - A Podcast Produced by Our Better Angles about the centennial celebration of the Women's Suffrage amendment, and the founding of the League of Women Voters in 1920. Ellen Sorensen, a member of LWV of the Ripon Area, is featured on the podcast.
- Perspective: Grandma Cele, the unknown Ojibwe suffragette - an article published in Indian Country Today which details the struggle of Cecelia Rabideaux, a founder of the country's first Indian League of Women Voters in 1924, who fought for equal participation and justice for Native people.
- LWVWI Centennial Toolkit - offers uniform messaging and historical information summaries for the commemoration of Wisconsin’s ratification of the 19th Amendment event and the same for the League’s Birthday and passage of the 19th Amendment, the latter two tailored to a Wisconsin perspective.
- Proclamation Information for 19th Amendment Centennial - provides guidance for language to be used when submitting a request to an elected official for a proclamation, or when drafting one for your League.
- Here is a proclamation from the LWV of the La Crosse area.
- Wisconsin Historical Society Women's Suffrage Toolkit - offers a comprehensive narrative of women's suffrage in Wisconsin including historical summaries, suffrage timelines, exhibit text from the Society's panel display "The Woman's Hour Has Struck" on view in the Capitol Rotunda through November 2019, and other resources.
- LWVUS Centennial Toolkit - offers uniform messaging for the 100th Birthday of the League for traditional and social media platforms, the anniversary slogan “Creating a More Perfect Democracy,” anniversary logo, and a resources list.
- LWVUS Day of Action Toolkit - The Day of Action is an opportunity for Leagues across the country to participate in a shared moment on February 14, 2020 to celebrate our 100th birthday and honor our legacy. The Day of Action toolkit will help you think about the ways to strengthen the plans you already have and to consider participation in an activity—such as a social media post—on February 14th, 2020.
- Calendar of Events - find upcoming LWVWI and local League events commemorating the centennial
- Centennial Resources Spreadsheet - The Centennial Resources Spreadsheet is a shared Google file for member direct posting of relevant book titles, articles, films, organizations, and any other resources of assistance in learning about the history of the LWV, the suffrage movement, and Wisconsin’s suffrage history. The spreadsheet is divided into five sheets: Books, Articles, Films, Organizations, and MIscellaneous.
- Centennial Promotional Items Spreadsheet - The Centennial Promotional Items Spreadsheet is a shared Google file for member direct posting of materials and products being made for sale to help promote and commemorate the 2019 and 2020 Centennial events. The spreadsheet is divided into four sheets: Local Wisconsin Leagues, LWVWI, LWVUS, and Other Sources.
NOTE TO LOCAL LEAGUES: If you are thinking about developing promotional and/or commemorate items for your League and want to learn if other local Leagues are in the process of doing the same, please reach out in real-time discussion with other League members through the Centennial Google Group.
Join the conversation: Any League member is welcome to join the Centennial Google Group, simply email your request to lwvwisconsin [at] lwvwi.org.
Together, let’s celebrate and commemorate the 39 words that took over seven decades to manifest as truth and changed the face of the American electorate forever!
“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”
- 19th Amendment to the US Constitution