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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to look through our collection.