EARLY LEGISLATIVE SUCCESS
Carrie Chapman Catt, LWV Founder, asked if women were up to the challenge that was ahead of them. Maud Wood Park was one of the first League leaders to answer Catt's challenge. She became the first national president of the League of Women Voters (LWV). Before ratification of the 19th amendment, Park steered the women’s suffrage amendment through Congress. From the very beginning, however, it was apparent that the LWV legislative goals were not exclusively focused on women’s issues. Rather, the effort expanded to citizen education of voters' rights for the entire electorate.
Since its inception, LWV has helped millions of women and men become informed participants in government. In fact, the first LWV convention voted 69 separate items as statements of principle and recommendations for legislation. Top issues included protection for women and children, the rights of working women, food supply and demand, social hygiene, the legal status of women, and American citizenship. The League’s first major national legislative success was the passage of the Sheppard-Towner Act providing federal aid for maternal and child care programs. In the 1930’s, League members worked successfully for enactment of the Social Security and Food and Drug Acts. Due at least in part to League efforts, legislation passed in 1938 and 1940 removing hundreds of federal jobs from the spoils system and placing them under Civil Service.
During the postwar period, the League assisted in the establishment of the United Nations and ensured U.S. participation. The League was one of the first organizations in the country officially recognized by the United Nations as a non-governmental organization; it still maintains official observer status today.