The League of Women Voters (LWV) was founded in 1920 by Carrie Chapman Catt, a leader in the women’s suffragist movement. Its purpose is to encourage citizens to participate actively in government by supporting the party of their choice. While the LWV is a nonpartisan organization, and therefore does not support individual candidates, it does take a position on issues of a national, state, and local scale selected by the membership. In the past the LWV has garnered support for such issues as minimum wage laws, child labor laws, and equal opportunity for women in government.

I recently had the opportunity to update the finding aid for the League of Women Voters of the Fairfax area with new accessions from 2012 and 2013. Within these new accessions I noticed a folder for the Observer Corps with materials dating from 1970 to 1980. Inside the folder is an Observer’s Manual from the League of Women Voters of Michigan. I was instantly interested. What is the Observer Corps, I wondered. The graphic on the manual is of a young woman peeking from behind a notebook.

Observer’s Manual, League of Women Voters of Michigan, December 1970. League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area records, Collection #C0031, Box 72, Folder 2. Special Collections and Archives, George Mason University.

Apparently members of the Observer Corps go to meetings of interest, observe the proceedings, and report back to the League through a short report that is featured in a bulletin. A position description from 1980 specifies qualifications such as: “1. Interest in government and desire to learn. 2. Ability to keep eyes and ears open and mouth shut. 3. Reliability.” According to issues of the Fairfax Voter from 2010 and 2012 it seems that the Fairfax league has restarted their Observer Corps and is looking for interested individuals.

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