"The history of the past is but one long struggle upward
--Elizabeth Cady Stanton
A Brief History of the League
A convention in Seneca Falls, New York, on July 19-20, 1848, is often considered to be the start of the suffrage movement in America. Elizabeth Cady Stanton prepared a Declaration of Sentiments, based on the Declaration of Independence, which became the cornerstone of the women’s movement. It took more than 70 years until women, in 1920, secured the right to vote.
Carrie Chapman Catt founded the League of Women Voters of the United States (LWVUS) on February 14, 1920. The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution giving women the right to vote was ratified in August that year. Early League members believed it would be a temporary organization, because once a woman’s right to vote was attained there would no longer be a need for such an organization to exist. However, 98 years later, we have more work to do than ever.
LWVUS maintains an office in Washington, D.C. A national League convention is held in even-numbered years.
The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin (LWVWI) was also founded in 1920. There are more than 1,000 members in 17 local leagues statewide, with about 35 members at large. A gathering of leagues in the state is held annually, usually in late May or early June. The state League maintains an office at 612 W. Main St. in Madison.
The League of Women Voters of Milwaukee County (LWVMC) was formed in 1989 by merging the Wauwatosa, North Shore, and Milwaukee leagues. LWVMC holds an annual meeting in May each year. We maintain an office with very part-time staff at 6737 W. Washington St. Suite 2218, West Allis, WI 53214.
LWVMC has more than 350 members as of July, 2018, including about 30 from the surrounding counties of Kenosha, Racine, and Waukesha. Ozaukee County has its own League with approximately 45 members.
While we have been known as League of Women Voters since our founding, League membership is open to all. Many men take an active role in our work.