The League of Women Voters
The National League of Women Voters was organized in 1921, and the local league in Grand Rapids soon afterward.
It was the result of the convictions of certain leaders of the suffrage movement who had come to believe that the mere attainment of the vote would not fulfill their purpose. What they conceived in the League of Women Voters was a group of citizens whose political activity should be based on informed opinion.
Accordingly, the league was built. Its method is one of education, by which women of widely differing political views may work out a program on which all can agree. It has based all its final judgments on a knowledge of facts rather than on party principles or emotional reactions. Therefore, it has had to go ahead slowly in order to go ahead steadily.
Its plan of organization is by departments, covering the scope of governmental activity, and dividing the league into working groups. Its program is made up by the interests of the local leagues, combining into the state and the national programs. These are increased and cut down as projects are begun and accomplished. It is divided into two parts: first, those governmental activities which are to be studied in order to build up opinion, and second, those which are to be acted upon according to that opinion already formed.
The departments of the Grand Rapids league meet on the second and the fourth Mondays of each month at the City Club for study and discussion.
The Municipal affairs group is meeting every two weeks to discuss the coming election and the vital issues before the voters.
The department on living costs has been working on the regulation of public utilities; the department on efficiency in government has undertaken the subject of state taxation; the department of education has been engaged for a year and a half in a campaign for adequate funds to preserve our school system; the department of women in industry has bee studying the necessity for further labor legislation in Michigan; the department of child welfare is always interested in the subjects of child labor, having worked for years for the ratification of the child labor amendment, maternity and infancy hygiene; and the department on international co-operation to prevent war is holding meetings every two weeks to discuss possibilities of peace.
The league’s program is built on the belief that a democracy progresses only as fast as public opinion. Although young in years, the league has already seen a favorable change in attitude toward certain governmental functions which it has supported with perseverance in spite of what seem at times hopeless opposition. The league continues in the belief in the power of a minority to affect the thought of the group, and by reason of the keen interest in governmental problems aroused in its membership.
Current officers are: Mrs. Benjamin P. Merrick, president; Mrs. Hugh Utley, first vice president; Mrs. Julius Amberg, second vice president; Miss Christine Keck, third vice president; Mrs. Paul Jones, fourth vice president; and Mrs. A. P. Marzolf, treasurer.
Created: 11 April 2007