A local organization is celebrating a century of encouraging civic engagement and responsive governance by elected officials.
The League of Women Voters of Lawrence-Douglas County’s latest newsletter, “The Voter,” shares some details of the local chapter’s founding in September 1921, and how the decade of activity that followed was nearly lost.
In 1969, a woman who had moved to Lawrence in 1926 said the league founded in 1921 disbanded “because it became too partisan,” according to The Voter.
“Given no other archival records on this league’s activities during the 1920s, the reconstituted Lawrence league erroneously dated its permanent founding to May 1931 and marked its 50th year in April 1981,” according to The Voter.
But the League had actually flourished during that decade, holding regular meetings with speakers discussing “hot topics” — a tradition that continues — and sponsoring various community events.
The newspaper at the time “reported different reasons for this league’s demise at the new city hall (Watkins Museum of History). On March 24, 1930, as the Great Depression intensified, members of the Douglas County league ‘voted to disband the organization and to go into the civic department of the Woman’s City club [chaired by league president Mary Thomas]. This move was decided upon owing to the numerous organizations represented among the club members and the expense incident to the upkeep of the league for a small number of members,'” The Voter states.
However, “No correspondence on this disbanding exists in the National or Kansas league archives,” it continues, and the centennial celebration this month will aim to “set this historicized record straight.”
Jeanne Klein, LWV member, local historian, and University of Kansas associate professor emerita of theatre, will tell of that little-known history of the local league from 1921 to 1931 for this month’s hot topic.
The virtual centennial celebration will be live from noon to 1 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 26 on the Watkins Museum of History’s Facebook page, according to LWVL-DC.