Making Democracy Work

History of the League of Women Voters

Our Mission and Roles

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

Our History

The League of Women Voters today is organized at the national (LWVUS), state (LWVGA), and local levels, in parallel with the levels of organization of government.

The organization's name, like its mission, derives from the proud legacy of the women's suffrage movement. Today's members are women and men; any citizen aged 18 or older can join. Members may join through any level of the League, and with membership comes the opportunity to work on local, state, regional and national public policy issues. Local Leagues set their local programs, priorities and dues; state Leagues set the statewide agenda. The League of Women Voters is an outgrowth of the suffragist movement. Carrie Chapman Catt founded the organization in 1920 during the convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. The convention was held only six months before the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, giving women the right to vote after a 57-year struggle.

With the passage of the 19th amendment imminent, all branches of the Equal Suffrage Society of Georgia merged into a state LWV. Likewise, the Georgia Woman Suffrage League joined the League of Women Voters. The League of Women Voters of Georgia was formally organized on April 3, 1920, at the home of Mrs. Emily C. MacDougald of Atlanta. Mrs. MacDougald was one of the twenty-two founders and had been president of the Equal Suffrage Party of Georgia. Miss Annie G. Wright from Augusta was the first president of the League of Women Voters of Georgia.

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 was 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 status 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. We are proud that the League remains nonpartisan, neither supporting nor opposing candidates at any level of government, but always working on issues of concern to members and the public.

Today, our rich history allows the League to continue to influence public policy. The League's impact is felt at all levels of government: local, state and national. The League's work is based on the belief that citizens who have well researched and unbiased information will make wise decisions for their communities and their nation. The League helps citizens ensure that their voices are heard at the local, state and national levels through coalition building around shared issues.

Decades of Making a Difference

1848 - Fight for women's suffrage begins in Seneca Falls, New York.

1920 - 19th Amendment enacted. League of Women Voters formed.

1930s + League fights for passage of the Social Security and Food and Drug Acts.

1940s - League works to abolish the poll tax and adopt a secret ballot in Georgia.

1950s + League fights for desegregation of public schools in Georgia.

1960s + League works for National Voting Rights Act, fights discrimination in education, employment and housing.

1970s + League fights for the Equal Rights Amendment.

1990s + League leads successful campaign for the "Motor Voter" act.

Today + League advocates for the Help America Vote Act, Georgia's statewide election system and safer, more accurate elections.