HISTORY OF THE LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF UTAH
Who We Are
The League of Women Voters was founded as a successor organization to the National American Woman Suffrage Association by Carrie Chapman Catt in 1920, just six months before the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, giving all American women the right to vote after a 72-year fight for women’s suffrage.
The League’s goals were twofold: to prepare women to be informed voting citizens, and to promote the social legislation characteristic of domestic politics such as advocating for better working conditions for women, child labor legislation, and prison reform. Catt was anxious to avoid women from being identified as a special interest group. Instead, her philosophy was that by having the vote, women’s involvement in politics would make for a naturally feminized and more humane state.
Catt spoke at the Conference of Women Voters held in the Salt Lake Tabernacle 17 November 1919, which was sponsored by the Utah State Suffrage Council (then presided over by Utah feminists Emmeline B. Wells, Emily S. Richards, among others). Three years later, eighteen women gathered in the Ladies Parlor of the Hotel Utah for the first regular meeting of the Utah League of Women Voters. Leah Dunham Widtsoe (wife of LDS Church Apostle John A. Widtsoe), was elected as State Chairman, and each member paid $1 in dues.