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Our History: What makes the League special?

We’re political but nonpartisan, with dedicated members in all 50 states and more than 700 communities. We advocate on behalf of the public interest instead of special interests. We arrive at our positions after in-depth study and every-member consensus. We have a well-earned 100-year-old reputation as a respected and influential participant in the political process.

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Steps forward and back


1848 Elizabeth Cady Stanton gathered 100 women’s rights advocates in Seneca Falls
186513thAmendment –Slavery abolished
1868 14thAmendment –Birthright citizenship
1869 Susan B. Anthony founds the National American Women’s Suffrage Association
1870 15thAmendment –Right to vote ensured on account of race,
color, or previous condition of servitude



The long road to suffrage in Oregon

1871 Abigail Scott Duniwayand Susan B. Anthony undertake Pacific Northwest lecture tour and petition campaign for equal rights
1872 Petition taken to Salem; suffrage bill fails
1873 Duniwayforms Oregon State Equal Suffrage Association (OSESA)
1884 First attempt to pass constitutional suffrage amendment fails

1896 Susan B. Anthony makes second trip to Pacific Northwest to participate in the Oregon Women’s Congress
1900 Oregonian editor, Harvey Scott, opposes amendment; second attempt fails
1905 National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) meets in Portland
1906 Suffrage linked to temperance effort; third attempt fails
1908 Fourth attempt fails
1910 Fifth attempt fails
1912 Oregon becomes ninth state to grant full suffrage for women

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The rest of the country catches up

1916 Carrie Chapman Catt elected NAWSA president; national effort replaces state-by-state approach
March 1919 NAWSA call to convention invites:
“the women voters of the fifteen full suffrage states…to join their forces in a League of Women Voters, one of whose objects shall be to speed the suffrage campaign in our own and other countries.”
May 1919 House passes 19thAmendment
June 1919 Senate passes 19thAmendment

Fall, 1919 Carrie Chapman Catt attends luncheon of Suffrage Alliance at Multnomah Hotel in Portland; urges support of new organization to educate and energize new electorate:
    Ratification efforts by Alliance:
                                        Letter-writing campaign
                                       Speaker’s bureau
                                       Pressure on Governor Olcott to call special session
                                      Appeal to new Oregonian editor
On January 12, 1920, Oregon ratifies 19thAmendment

Who’s in charge?

League of Women Citizens
Organized by Effie Simmons, delegate to 1920 NAWSA
Goal: change the organization’s name and admit men
Mrs. Charles Curry was elected first president
Oregon League of Women Voters
Incorporated by the first president, Maria Hidden
Later dissolved, but the name still registered until 1935

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Landmark dates in Voter Service

1998 LWVOR is the chief petitioner for Measure 60, Vote-by-Mail
2000 410,000 free Voters’ Guides distributed
2000s Voters Guideexpanded to Spanish, audio, large print, easy-to-read, Braille, and online versions
2002 Oregon Student Mock Election for middle and high schoolers
2005 LWVOR partners with SOS on HAVA implementation
2009 “Video Voters’ Guide” becomes a statewide project
2010 enables personalized ballot information; online voter registration

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