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Charlotte League of Women Voters Records, 1920-2004

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MS-2020-055

Content Description

The League of Women Voters Records consists of items primarily related to the Charlotte Chapter of the League, but also includes some information regarding the North Carolina State and National Chapters. The bulk of the collection is from 1950-2000. Overarching series are the Charlotte League, North Carolina State League, and the National League. Each is represented separately, and are broken into the following series: administrative, anniversaries, Charlotte Women’s Political Caucus, committees, financial information, histories, publications, public relations, and voter service. Other series are clippings, photographs, negatives, slides, audio/visual, oversize, artifacts, and scrapbooks.

Administrative, 1920-2001, includes all administrative records of the Charlotte League of Women Voters. Found here are annual reports; board of directors meeting minutes, correspondence, and rosters; various membership information; and policies and procedures.

Series 1: Anniversaries, 1968-2000, consists of information relating to the 50th, 75th, 76th, 77th, and 80th Galas.

Series 2: Charlotte Women’s Political Caucus, 1969-1999, comprises information relating to this organization, such as reports, correspondence, financials, histories, membership, programs and publications. Note: each League level includes information on its corresponding Caucus level.

Series 3: Committees, 1950-2000, contains information such as correspondence, membership, publications, and reports for the Education, Naturalization, Nominating, Observer Corps, and Voter Service Committees.

Series 4: Financial Information, 1950-2001, involves bank statements, budgets, deposit slips, Finance Drive information, grants, ledgers, and reports, including Treasurer’s reports.

Series 5: Histories, 1920-2004, encompasses histories of the organization, proclamations, a thesis, and a video script.

Series 6: Publications, 1950-2001, covers general publications and newsletters such as the Voter, and Voter Guides.

Series 7: Public Relations, 1973-2001, holds Metrolina Viewpoints, press releases, public service announcements, speeches, and TV/radio/newspaper spots.

Series 8: Voter Service, 1925-2003, includes information on the Civics 101 classes, elections, league action and advocacy (which consists of study topics and League positions), and special projects. Study topics are listed by year within each topic.

Series 9: Clippings, various, consists of newspaper clippings concerning a wide variety of topics, most of which have corresponding study topics in the Voter Service series.

Series 10: Photographs, 1966-2000, comprises photographs taken during an assortment of League events. Some are identified, while others are not.

Series 11: Negatives, undated, contains negatives of some of the photographs included in the collection.

Series 12: Slides, 1988, involves a single slide of a League event.

Series 13: Audio/Visual, 1984-2000, encompasses cassettes, diskettes, and VHS tapes of such items as League oral histories, public service announcements, and meeting and gala information.

Series 14: Oversize, various, covers drawings, certificates, and a variety of framed pieces.

Series 15: Artifacts, undated, holds three-dimensional items.

Series 16: Scrapbooks, various, includes over twenty scrapbooks of League history. Some consist of primarily newspaper clippings, and others are focused on League events.

Dates

  • 1920 - 2004

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to the public without restriction. The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to duplicate or publish material from this collection must be obtained from the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

Biographical / Historical

The state of North Carolina did not show much support for the suffrage movement until November 1913 when Suzanne Bynum and Anna Forbes Lidell organized the Charlotte Chapter of the Equal Suffrage League (ESL). Only white men and women were admitted to this organization, excluding all persons of color.

On May 20, 1914, ESL members Suzanne Bynum, Anna Forbes Liddell, Catherine McLaughlin, Jane Stillman, Julia McNinch, Bessie Mae Simmonds and Mary Belle Palmer advocated for women’s suffrage during the May 20 parade, a local holiday celebrating the alleged Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. The unprecedented suffragist float attracted much attention to the suffrage movement, which continued to slowly build momentum until the 19th Amendment was ratified.

Several months before the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920, the National American Woman Suffrage Association’s (NAWSA) president, Carrie Chapman Catt, founded the League of Women Voters during the annual convention, appointing Maud Wood Park as the first president.

Designed as a nonpartisan, grassroots organization, the League worked to assist the 20 million new female voters in understanding and executing their new civic duties. The League was, and continues to be, a strong advocate of politically educated citizens and government and social reform legislation. League members are encouraged to be political, while remaining nonpartisan.

In 1947, Charlotte women made another endeavor at organizing, and formed a provisional League of Women Voters. Fifty women met at the Y.W.C.A., and elected Isabel Peterson president. Annual dues were set at two dollars. The Charlotte League was granted full status in the spring of 1948, and has had active participation ever since. Members are given the responsibility to study topics of interest to voters in their communities, present factual evidence, advocate for or against policies, and present unbiased information to voters regarding elections, candidates, and the voting process.

This organization of women is still active across the nation today, but, as with many other suffrage organizations, has a complex history. Unfortunately, Catt carried the same racist tendencies as many other white women in the suffrage movement, confirmed by her comment while lobbying to southern senators that “white supremacy will be strengthened, not weakened, by women’s suffrage.” Catt also blocked the Northeastern Federation of Women’s Clubs, a group of Black suffragists, from joining NAWSA to protect the political feelings of white voters.

The League of Women Voters has publicly recognized their early unforgiving history and admitted that "African Americans were shut out of the vision of the League,” but, “As we continue to grow our movement, we acknowledge our privilege and must use our power to raise the voices of those who haven’t always had a seat at the table.” During a time of difficult conversations, the League of Women Voters vowed to not only strive for better, but to do better.

Despite the complicated racial and political issues endured by the League early in its history, the organization has proven to be a critical nonpartisan, activist, grassroots organization that values voter education and political and social reform. Women (and men) in the League dedicate their lives and careers to making sure that all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or gender have the tools to elevate their voices and advocate for change. Their mission of empowering voters and defending democracy has led them to become one of the most impactful and successful political groups in the United States.

Extent

54.25 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

Carrie Chapman Catt founded the League of Women Voters in 1920 during the National American Woman Suffrage Association’s annual convention. It was designed to be a nonpartisan, grassroots organization that would assist the 20 million new female voters in understanding and executing their new civic duties. The League was, and continues to be, a strong advocate of politically educated citizens and government and social reform legislation.

Formed in 1922, the Charlotte League of Women Voters had a somewhat rocky beginning. After an initial wave of interest during the early 1920s, membership fell across North Carolina, and in 1936, the Charlotte group, among others, was disbanded when state numbers dropped below National League requirements. Charlotte’s women rebounded in 1947, and formed a provisional League. They were granted full status in 1948, and have continued active participation since that time. Members study topics of interest to voters in their communities, present factual evidence, advocate for or against policies, and present unbiased information to voters regarding elections, candidates, and the voting process.

This collection contains artifacts, audio/visual materials, clippings, documents, negatives, oversized items, photographs, scrapbooks, and slides. Materials dated 1993-2004 and in good condition.

Arrangement

Collection materials are arranged in 17 series:

Series 1: Administrative, 1920-2001, includes all administrative records of the Charlotte League of Women Voters. Found here are annual reports; board of directors meeting minutes, correspondence, and rosters; various membership information; and policies and procedures.

Series 2: Anniversaries, 1968-2000, consists of information relating to the 50th, 75th, 76th, 77th, and 80th Galas.

Series 3: Charlotte Women’s Political Caucus, 1969-1999, comprises information relating to this organization, such as reports, correspondence, financials, histories, membership, programs and publications. Note: each League level includes information on its corresponding Caucus level.

Series 4: Committees, 1950-2000, contains information such as correspondence, membership, publications, and reports for the Education, Naturalization, Nominating, Observer Corps, and Voter Service Committees.

Series 5: Financial Information, 1950-2001, involves bank statements, budgets, deposit slips, Finance Drive information, grants, ledgers, and reports, including Treasurer’s reports.

Series 6: Histories, 1920-2004, encompasses histories of the organization, proclamations, a thesis, and a video script.

Series 7: Publications, 1950-2001, covers general publications and newsletters such as the Voter, and Voter Guides.

Series 8: Public Relations, 1973-2001, holds Metrolina Viewpoints, press releases, public service announcements, speeches, and TV/radio/newspaper spots.

Series 9: Voter Service, 1925-2003, includes information on the Civics 101 classes, elections, league action and advocacy (which consists of study topics and League positions), and special projects. Study topics are listed by year within each topic.

Series 10: Clippings, various, consists of newspaper clippings concerning a wide variety of topics, most of which have corresponding study topics in the Voter Service series.

Series 11: Photographs, 1966-2000, comprises photographs taken during an assortment of League events. Some are identified, while others are not.

Series 12: Negatives, undated, contains negatives of some of the photographs included in the collection.

Series 13: Slides, 1988, involves a single slide of a League event.

Series 14: Audio/Visual, 1984-2000, encompasses cassettes, diskettes, and VHS tapes of such items as League oral histories, public service announcements, and meeting and gala information.

Series 15: Oversize, various, covers drawings, certificates, and a variety of framed pieces.

Series 16: Artifacts, undated, holds three-dimensional items.

Series 17: Scrapbooks, various, includes over twenty scrapbooks of League history. Some consist of primarily newspaper clippings, and others are focused on League events.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Presented by the League of Women Voters, 1993-2010.

Related Materials

Associations—League of Women Voters. (CALL NUMBER: NCR VERTICAL FILES)

Carter, Deborah Brown. The League of Women Voters, Charlotte-Mecklenburg, 1920-2000. Charlotte, NC: Urban Research Group, Johnson C. Smith University, 2003. (CALL NUMBER: NCR 324.62309 OVERSIZE)

The Tensions of Their Times: The Story of the League of Women Voters of Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Charlotte, NC: WTVI Charlotte Public Television, 2004. (CALL NUMBER: NCR DVD324.62309)

Separated Materials

The League of Women Voters banner is currently on permanent loan to the Levine Museum of the New South for one of their permanent exhibits. 

Bibliography

League of Women Voters. History. http://lwv.org/history

League of Women Voters of Charlotte-Mecklenburg. About the League. http://www.goleaguego.org/about.html

Condition Description

Materials are in good condition.

Processing Information

The processing, arrangement, and description of this collection was completed by Hannah Cox, 2017.
Title
Charlotte League of Women Voters Mecklenburg Records, 1920-2004
Status
In Progress
Author
Hannah Cox, Sydney Carroll
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Repository

Contact:
Charlotte Mecklenburg Library-Main
310 N. Tryon Street
Charlotte NC 28202 USA