NAWSA and the League of Women Voters

By Robyn Orsini

February 1, 2021

What does NAWSA (naw-sa) stand for?  On February 18, 1890, the National American Woman’s Suffrage Association was formed from two suffrage organizations, National and American, both begun in1869. This merger helped build momentum for women to gain voting rights in state and national elections. Its membership grew as more and more states granted women’s suffrage in local and state elections, from about 7,000 women to over 2 million. NAWSA’s efforts, along with massive mobilization across the nation, paid off: in May and June of 1919, the US Congress passed a resolution in support of a constitutional amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote in all elections.

What does NAWSA (naw-sa) stand for? 

On February 18, 1890, the National American Woman’s Suffrage Association was formed from two suffrage organizations, National and American, both begun in1869. This merger helped build momentum for women to gain voting rights in state and national elections. Its membership grew as more and more states granted women’s suffrage in local and state elections, from about 7,000 women to over 2 million. NAWSA’s efforts, along with massive mobilization across the nation, paid off: in May and June of 1919, the US Congress passed a resolution in support of a constitutional amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote in all elections.

On February 14, 1920, at its 51st convention, NAWSA formally created a spinoff organization called the League of Women Voters. Its initial purpose was to concentrate statewide efforts to make sure the 19th Amendment was ratified. It took only six months for 36 states (two-thirds at the time) to ratify the amendment. The federal enfranchisement of women had been accomplished.

LWV quickly moved into two phases: educating women about voting and advocating for social change. Staunchly nonpartisan, the League provided information about candidates and ballot issues. It also fought for voting rights for all and against voter suppression. LWV lobbied to improve women’s lot, such as opening up higher education to them, providing birth control, gaining the right to get a divorce and having custody of their children, owning property, and having on-the-job protections. It also worked for children’s rights, such as making public education mandatory and tightening child labor laws. Some of these issues continue to this day, in its 101st year.

Robyn Orsini is a past president of the Napa League, and she is the Equality & Equity (EQ2) Advocate. If you have suggestions for this column, please send them to lwvnapa@gmail.com.

PO Box 10560, Napa CA 94559

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