About Us: History

How The League of Women Voters Began

Arthur Denny, founder of Seattle, proposed woman suffrage in the first legislative meeting in Olympia in 1854. He lost on an eight to nine vote. The Washington Territory Woman Suffrage Association was formed in 1871 in Olympia. The territorial legislature gave women the vote in 1883. Women lost their vote in 1887 when the Territorial Supreme Court ruled that Congress did not intend to give territories the power to enfranchise women. Women were unable to vote for delegates to the State Constitutional Convention in 1889. Woman suffrage was submitted to the voters as a separate amendment to ratification of the constitution. It failed again in an 1897 vote. In 1895 the first convention of Washington State’s Equal Suffrage Association was held. Washington Territory was known for its suffragists. With differing styles, the persistent Emma Smith DeVoe and the direct and indomitable May Arkwright Hutton worked for the common cause of women’s suffrage in Washington State. By 1907, the Washington Equal Suffrage Association had several thousand members, and in November of 1910 the amendment to the state constitution allowing women to vote carried by nearly two to one. This made Washington the fifth state to give women the right to vote - nine years before the 19th Amendment to the US. Constitution extended the vote to all the nation’s women.

The League of Women Voters of the United States was first projected at the Jubilee Convention of the National American Women Suffrage Association in 1919. The League of Women Voters of Washington was organized the next year. Seattle and Tacoma were the first two local Leagues in the state. In the early days the League of Women Voters of Washington supported state legislation pertaining to protection of children in fields of labor, health and education. At the present time there are twenty-one local Leagues around the state.

The History of The League of Women Voters of Pullman

League of Women Voters of Pullman was organized in February 1950. In 1952 it became a chartered local league. Each year the League studies and acts on local, state and national governmental issues. The League may take a stand on an issue after careful study, but it never supports or opposes either political party or any candidates. Financial support comes from League programs, membership dues and contributions. In its first two years the League started a survey that focused on local issues. This study resulted in a pamphlet entitled “Know Your Town.” In this pamphlet the League promoted greater community action. The goals have remained consistent with those ideas in subsequent years of activity.

League Lingo

  • Action: the means used for stimulating interest in giving information and urging support of League positions: press conferences, lobbying, letters, etc.
  • Board: The Board of Directors
  • Briefing: meeting at which the resources committee briefs non-committee members.
  • Call to Action: request from a Board for specific action on a program item.
  • Concurrence: agreeing with another League or Leagues’ consensus.
  • Consensus:substantial agreement of the members developed through study and discussion.
  • ILO: Inter-League Organization; a group of local Leagues who have joined to study and act on joint problems.
  • Item/Issue: any specific topic on the list of program; local, state or national.
  • Legislative Day: LWV day in Olympia - lobbying opportunity for all members.
  • LWVUS: the League of Women Voters of the United States
  • LWVWA: the League of Women Voters of Washington
  • MAL: Member-at-Large; a member who resides outside the area of a local League, and receives state and national publications.
  • Nonpartisan: describes the League’s political policy of neither supporting nor opposing political parties or candidates.
  • PMP: Per Member Payment; portion of member’s dues which goes to support LWVUS and LWVWA.
  • Portfolio: area of responsibility of each Board member.
  • Position/Stand: body of opinion expressed in the consensus upon which action can be taken.
  • Provisional League: newly formed group working on limited program as it learns procedures and techniques and works toward becoming a local League.
  • TRY: They Represent You. Each local League publishes a yearly directory of public officials in their districts.
  • UAL: a group of Members-at-Large (MAL’s) who meet together as a Unit-at-Large prior to becoming a Provisional League.
  • Unit/Committee: small discussion group which meets regularly to discuss and act upon League program.
  • VOTER: newsletter issued by local and state Leagues in print or electronic format.

For a larger list of lingo, see this full list at the Washington State Leagues website!