Lakewood’s League of Women Voters

Page title reads “Officers and Committee Chairman of League of Women Voters Garden Party.” This page was published in the August 30, 1923, issue of The Lakewood Post newspaper.

As the month of March comes to an end, I find that (a) it has flown by and (b) there is so much history to be told and discussed.  This certainly takes quite a bit of time to thoroughly research and ensure accuracy/legitimacy of the sources that are used.  Especially with political issues bombarding us in the media and in our everyday lives, it is appropriate to stress the need to become educated on political issues in our society; trying to the best of our ability to get the whole story. The final post in the Women’s History Month series,  highlights some of the changes that occurred after the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which resulted in the formation of an organization whose purpose is just that…educate the community on political issues. Now, it is important for everyone to know what the 19th Amendment states, since it was a pivotal legislative decision that still affects us today.

  1. The right of the citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States of by any State on account of sex.
  2. Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

The Lakewood Women’s Suffrage Party, formed in 1912, worked diligently for five years to pass a local measure to include women in local government decision-making.  These efforts eventually resulted in the 1917 vote that allowed the Lakewood Ladies to officially participate in the democratic process.  It was not until 1920 that states voted to ratify a national Women’s Suffrage amendment.

“League of Women Voters Hear Report of Representatives Attending Convention of National League.” This article was published in 1923.

The members of the Lakewood Women’s Suffrage Party transformed their organizational mission in 1922 to focus on the education of the new population of voters-women.  So, the Lakewood League of Women Voters (LWV) grew out of the Lakewood Women’s Suffrage Party.   (It is important to note at this point, that this was a common transformation that occurred within many of the Women’s Suffrage Parties across the country.)

Did you know that Bernice Pyke was not the only suffragette who had a famous political career? Maude C. Waitt was the first Republican woman to be elected to the House of Representatives for the State of Ohio.

There is some debate, looking at the newspaper clippings we have in our collections about whether or not the Lakewood chapter of the LWV is the oldest in the state, or the second. However, the fact remains that it was one of the first to establish itself after the 1920 ratification of the 19th Amendment!  In 1924, two years after the establishment of the Lakewood LWV, its membership numbered 481.  In 1967, in celebration of the first 45 years of the LWV, one of the original members, Mrs. Jesse W. Woods, reflected that, “[W]hen we organized the league back in ’22 women were very ignorant of politics and very uninterested…They didn’t even know parliamentary procedure…”

However, the disinterest did not deter many women of Lakewood.  According to the Lakewood Sun Post in 1967, “Immediately after women’s sufferage {sic} women’s political study groups became popular. It was here the idea for the League of Women Voters was conceived.”

Here is the cover of the celebratory booklet of the 45 years of the Lakewood League of Women Voters. The LWV is a bipartisan group whose mission is to educate the community on political issues. This is why there is a woman shaking hands with both mascots of the two dominate political parties-Democrat and Republican.

There is so much more that can be said about the role of education in the political process, but what makes Lakewood, and other places who had LWV chapters, interesting and unique is that the League of Women Voters is still active and seeks to educate the public on political issues. It is an example of an organization, established in the 1920s, that is still around and active in 2016.

Below is the website for the League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland and like their predecessors, the organizations mission is :

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.

I highly suggest that anyone interested in learning more about what the League of Women Voters is, to go to their website or read more about it at you local library.  We will have a newsletter article in our Summer 2016 edition about women in politics.

If you wish to receive our newsletters, please contact us about becoming members of the Lakewood Historical Society.

For more updates on our collections and Lakewood Historical Society news and events, “Like” us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter ( @VintaqeLKWD), and make sure to sign up to receive our blog updates!!


 

Sources:

The Lakewood Post bound volumes 1923-1924. Lakewood Historical Society

League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland

Organizations-League of Women Voters file. Lakewood Historical Society Archives

Women’s Suffrage Party file. Lakewood Historical Society Archives

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