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League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia Records

Identifier: 033

Scope and Contents

The collection contains clippings and alphabetically arranged office files maintained by the League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia to document its activities. Topics in the records cover primarily local D.C. political issues, but also national and international concerns of the National League of Women Voters. The records are divided into two series: topical files and clippings.


  • Creation: 1930-1982


Language of Materials


Biographical / Historical

As a result of the 19th Amendment that gave women the right to vote, the National League of Women Voters (NLWV) was established to educate women on how to vote and to provide information on public issues. On May 26, 1921, a meeting was called in the home of Mrs. Gifford Pinchot to form a District of Columbia branch of the National League of Women Voters. League charter members included Mrs. Frank Hiram Snell, Mrs. J. Borden Harriman, Mrs. Grace Chamberlain, Judge Mary O’Toole, Miss Harleen James, and Mrs. Elizabeth Brownlow. Famous members of the League have included First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Mrs. A.J. McKelway, wife of Benjamin McElway, who became editor of the Washington Evening Star in 1947. In 1926, the League adopted the name, “The Voteless District of Columbia League of Women Voters,” to emphasize the District’s disenfranchisement. Since its inception, the League’s primary focus has been to educate and lobby for greater self-government for the citizens of the District.

The D.C. League has worked on a variety of issues important to the District as well as national and international issues supported by the NWLV. During the 1930s and 1940s, the League conducted studies regarding public assistance relief and child welfare in the District, supported home front mobilization efforts during World War II, D.C. government reorganization, juvenile court changes, child labor laws, the 40-hour work week, and improvement of D.C. schools.

Starting in the 1940s, the League began working for better race relations and supporting civil rights in the Nation’s capital. The League supported desegregating District schools, and anti-discrimination laws in federal government employment and housing. In the 1950s and 1960s the League focused much of its attention on D.C. suffrage and home rule. By the 1980s, the League had positions on a number of public policy issues such as support of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs), a rapid rail system, urban planning, Equal Rights Amendment ratification, and gun control laws with qualified support for the University of the District of Columbia and statehood for the District. The League prints a Voters Guide each election, sponsors a speakers bureau, conducts political debates, and advocates for a number of public policy issues for all D.C. citizens.


22.5 Linear feet

31 Boxes


Series 1: Topical Files, 1960-1979 (10 linear ft.) This series contains office files that contain correspondence, reports, proposals, newsletters, and programs on a variety of topics and issues of concern to the League. The series also contains files on the League’s operations, including its by-laws, reports to the National League, and information on the League’s Speakers Bureau. The series is further arranged chronologically into subseries. The first series covers Pre-1960 files with subsequent subseries generally covering one or two decades. Within each subseries, the folders are arranged alphabetically by topic.

Subseries 1: Pre-1960 files, 1930-1960 (4.5 linear ft.) Significant topics included in the 1960 files are urban renewal, the Consumer’s League, juvenile court law revision in the 1930s, recreation, urban housing, anti-discrimination, child welfare, foreign policy, and an all-day school proposal.

Subseries 2: 1960-1969 files (4.5 linear ft.) Post-1960 topics include education, urban planning, the Metro Council, minimum wage, voter education, and election law reform. The files also contain files on international issues such as foreign relations and trade and opposition to totalitarian regimes.

Subseries 3: 1970-1979 files (1 linear ft.) Files regarding the Potomac Metro Water Basin (1976-1979) and materials from a 1960 study of foreign relations with China are included in this subseries.

Series 2: Clippings, 1960-1982 (2.5 linear ft.) This series contains clippings compiled by League members and staff regarding political issues of concern to the League. Home rule, the D.C. budget, D.C. public officials, civil rights, health, higher education, public schools, transportation, and taxes are only a few of the public policy issues covered by the clippings.

Custodial History

The Library received its first donation of records from the League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia in 1981 from Sue Panzer, President of the League. Subsequent donations have been received periodically from League members.

Related Materials

Collection 001: Julius Hobson Papers (1960-1977)
Collection 009: Harry S. Wender Papers (1930-1973)
Collection 048: District of Columbia Statehood Commission Records (1788-1994)
Collection 055: Home Rule Committee Collection (1939-1961)
Collection 089: Martha McNeil Hamilton Collection (1971-1997)

DC History Center: E1670, League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia Ephemera Collection
George Washington University, Special Collections Research Center: MS 2326, Helen Halbig Papers

Processing Information

Standard archival processing procedures were applied to the collection when it was processed.

League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia
An inventory of League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia at DC Public Library
Finding aid prepared by Leroy Graham/Faye Haskins.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the The People's Archive, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library Repository

901 G Street NW
4th Floor East
Washington DC 20001