Fighting for Freedom: The League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area

The League of Women Voters was formed by Carrie Chapman Catt in 1920 before the 19th amendment had been passed, allowing all women the right to vote. Multiple local leagues were established in counties and cities around the United States. In 1948, a League of Women Voters was created in Fairfax but was reestablished and stabilized in 1964 shortly after Fairfax City became separate from Fairfax County. Since 1948, the League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area (LWVFA) has fought for many issues and provided educational resources to women and men on how to vote, choose candidates, information on current issues and much more.

Doc.1 The 1985 Congressional Forum regarding women in the Senate and House. Some issues regard the difficulty for women to gain experience and feel encouraged and confident enough to run for a seat in the Senate or House. There is also a list comparing women in these types of positions around the world. Document is from League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area Records, Collection # C0031, Box 13, Folder 02, Page 2/2 of "Our Daighters' Daughters Will Adore Us ," Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Doc.1 The 1985 Congressional Forum regarding women in the Senate and House. Some issues regard the difficulty for women to gain experience and feel encouraged and confident enough to run for a seat in the Senate or House. There is also a list comparing women in these types of positions around the world. Document is from League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area Records, Collection # C0031, Box 13, Folder 02, Page 2/2 of “Our Daighters’ Daughters Will Adore Us ,” Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

From the table in Doc. 1, Denmark’s People’s House had the largest percentage of women in a legislative role at 26.8% in 1985. Norway’s Stortinget followed  with 25.8%, while the U.S. Senate had 2% and the U.S. House had 5% of women involvement. Today, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union updated in February of 2016, the U.S. is ranked 95 out of 185, with women holding 19.4% of the House, and 20% of the Senate. Some of the countries ahead of the U.S. are Cuba, Mexico, Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Canada.

Aside from urging more women to run for seats in the House and Senate, the LWVFA have fought for a number of environmental and class issues, female reproductive rights, equal pay among many others.

Doc. 2 references the pay gap of .64 cents earned by women for each dollar that a man earned in 1984 for full-time work. Currently, the wage gap stands at .79 cents for every dollar that a man makes in 2016, according to The American Association of University Women. This percentage is the average gap, but can shift slightly due to many factors such as age, education, race, location, and occupation.

Doc. 2 Document from LWVFA President, Sue Anderson, in February 1984 regarding equal pay. Document is from League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area Records, Collection # C0031, Box 14, Folder 01, "Letter from League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area dated February 27, 1984," Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Doc. 2 Document from LWVFA President, Sue Anderson, in February 1984 regarding equal pay. Document is from League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area Records, Collection # C0031, Box 14, Folder 01, “Letter from League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area dated February 27, 1984,” Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

The LWVFA also opposed and urged Congress against the Kemp amendment to Title X in 1985 (Doc. 3), which would remove federal funding for family planning at any organization or institution that performed abortions or provided abortion counseling. This amendment was passed and few alterations have been made.

Document is from League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area Records, Collection # C0031, Box 14, Folder 01, Page 1/2 of "Letter from League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area to Congressman Frank R. Wolf dated November 25, 1985," Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Doc. 3. Document is from League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area Records, Collection # C0031, Box 14, Folder 01, Page 1/2 of “Letter from League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area to Congressman Frank R. Wolf dated November 25, 1985,” Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

There has been a lot of correspondence between members of Congress and the LWVFA. League members wrote to leaders about issues of concern and received many responses back, often positively, from members of Congress thanking them for expressing their views. C0031B30F14: topics within these letters regard the Clean Air Act Amendment bill, the Equal Rights Amendment , and congratulatory letters to the elected President, Leslie Byrne, in 1981.

C0031B39F09: document is from League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area records, Collection #C0031, Box 39, Folder 09, “Bylaws of the League of Women Voters of the United States,” Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries. Bylaws were amended as of May 3, 1948.

C0031B27F03: document is from League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area Records, Collection #C0031, Box 27, Folder 03, “How to Judge a Candidate” and “How to Watch a Debate,” Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries. Documents were created for the Presidential Election of 1986.

 

 

For more information about the League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area, important issues, and information on voting, visit http://www.lwv-fairfax.org/.

For information about Carrie Chapman Catt or the history of the League of Women Voters, go to http://www.catt.org/ or http://lwv.org/.

For information about the LWVFA records in the Special Collections Research Center at George Mason University, you can view our finding aid and contact speccoll@gmu.edu to look through our collection.

Arena Stage reprocessing project completed by SCRC staff!

After years of work and a combined effort by many archivists and student assistants, we have finished the Arena Stage reprocessing project.   The project culminated in the creation of a brand-new finding aid, including a 739-box inventory, to help researchers access the riches of the collection.  The scope of the collection covers both the administrative and artistic sides of Arena’s work, documenting over 60 years of the life of a ground-breaking theatre institution.

Arena Stage ’s impact on American theatre is hard to overstate.  Since its founding by the indomitable Zelda Fichandler and her drama professor Edward Mangum in 1950, Arena has challenged the racial and political status quo, while pushing artistic boundaries and presenting high-caliber theatre.  One of my favorite discoveries in the collection, one that I posted on Facebook a few months ago, was a simple brochure advertising the 1967 premier of Howard Sackler’s The Great White Hope.  The ad features a photo of James Earl Jones (pre-Darth Vader!) and Jane Alexander, with Alexander’s head resting on Jones’s shoulder (pictured below).   In the context of the time, this image is deeply significant – interracial marriage was illegal in the state of Virginia until the Supreme Court’s Loving v. Virginia decision in 1967, just months before The Great White Hope’s world premiere at Arena.  An advertising image depicting an interracial couple – married or not – was a brave choice in 1967 Washington, DC, just across the Potomac River from Virginia.  Such courage and principle was typical of Arena, however, particularly in those years.

C0017_09

James Earl Jones and Jane Alexander.  Arena Stage Records, Box 143, Folder 27.  Collection #C0017, Special Collections and Archives, George Mason University Libraries.

Aside from documenting Arena’s incredible contributions, the collection is a treasure trove of information on actors, including a number who went on to major careers in film and television.  The collection’s personnel sub-subseries includes  headshots, CVs, and/or correspondence from James Earl Jones, Morgan Freeman, Sigourney Weaver,  Annette Bening, Ron Perlman, Henry Winkler, Edward Hermann, and many others.  Particularly entertaining is a series of letters, headshots, and a CV from John Lithgow (also posted on Facebook), who very much wanted to act and possibly direct at Arena Stage as a young man in the early 1970s, decades before he was on Third Rock from the Sun and voicing Lord Farquaad in Shrek.

Reprocessing the Arena Stage collection has been an adventure – the sheer scale of the task was monumental, but it was also a source of constant discovery and surprises.   We hope that the reprocessed collection and the finding aid that accompanies it allow researchers to experience the incredible history of Arena Stage and make discoveries of their own.