The Vote!

Written by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen on July 7th, 2011

My partner Michael and I are coming to the end of six months processing at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. We’ll be sad to go, but we’re excited about moving on to the National Archives and Records Administration (Mid-Atlantic Branch). We hear they’ve got an interesting collection for us to dig into! But first things first, we’re finishing up our final collection at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania: the League of Women Voters of Philadelphia records.

Unknown size: small.

The League of Women Voters (LWV) was formed in 1920, replacing the National American Woman Suffrage Association just before the passage of the 19th Amendment granted American women the right to vote. The Philadelphia branch of LWV was founded soon afterward, with the same goals of educating women voters and generally promoting issues of interest to women. The Philadelphia LWV included among its storied members Sarah Logan Wister Starr, that philanthropic powerhouse of 20th-century Philadelphia’s social and political circles, whom we came to know and love while processing the Belfield papers. She wasn’t the only powerful women in LWV, however. Those ladies knew how to take care of business. Accounting for the special interests of half the American population, the LWV wielded real political power and they knew it. They kept an eye on every politician’s voting record; they tracked developments in issues relating to education, the environment, international relations, and women’s rights; they even found time to hold local events, including car care clinics!

The collection is an amazing resource for anyone studying the League of Women Voters or grassroots political action in the context of an inner-city environment. Because the LWV was tracking a diverse number of subjects and keeping tabs on numerous politicians, education, Philadelphia government reform, and other political and social issues of special concern to the League of Women.

Voters are also well documented in this collection. We hope you’ll come to the Historical Society soon to check it out!


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