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MC 274

League of Women Voters of Massachusetts. Records of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, 1920-1975: A Finding Aid

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University


Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Addenda to the records of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts were processed with funds provided by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Descriptive Summary

Location: Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.
Call No.: MC 274
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: League of Women Voters of Massachusetts
Title: Records of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, 1920-1975
Date(s): 1920-1975
Quantity: 9.8 linear feet (23 + 1/2 file boxes) plus 2 folio+ folders, 1 oversize folder, electronic records)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Minutes, reports, correspondence, etc., of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, which advocated for informed, active participation of citizens in government.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession numbers: 623, 1183, 1435, 70-37, 71-168, 73-31, 74-16
Gift of League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, 41 Mt. Vernon Street, Boston, Massachusetts beginning in July 1963.

Processing Information:

Addenda processed: September 1978
By: Katherine Kraft
Updated: August 2010
By: Stacey Flatt

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the records created by the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.
Copying. Records may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.

Preferred Citation:

League of Women Voters of Massachusetts Records, 1920-1975; item description, dates. MC 274, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Additional records of League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, 1918-2001 (inclusive), 1960-1990 (bulk) (MC 631).


The League of Women Voters was founded in 1920 during the National American Woman Suffrage Association convention, just months before the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution gave women the right to vote. Maud Wood Park of Massachusetts was elected the League's first president. This strictly non-partisan political organization was established to help women carry out their responsibilities as voters, interest people in their government by encouraging them to participate in shaping public policy, and take a more active part in government functions. From its inception, the League has supported or opposed specific policies, but never political candidates. A grassroots organization, the League has state and local chapters in addition to the national body.
Many founding delegates were from Massachusetts, and participated in local suffrage organizations. These suffrage groups promptly reformed as chapters of the League of Women Voters after passage of the 19th Amendment. Originally incorporated in 1893, the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association dissolved and regrouped in May 1920 as the Massachusetts League of Women Voters, stating that its purpose was to promote education in citizenship, and to co-operate in carrying out the program of the national League by doing any or all lawful things that would tend to further these ends. To honor the Association's former leader, the newly-formed League designated Alice Stone Blackwell the permanent honorary president.
The Massachusetts League began its legislative campaign by approving the principle of maternity legislation; endorsing what would prove to be the unsuccessful efforts to enact the Smith-Towner bill and to elevate the federal Office of Education to a cabinet-level agency; urging Congress to take steps to relieve the terrible conditions of starvation existing in Europe at the time; and calling upon all the legislatures of the states that had not yet ratified the 19th Amendment to do so. In the following years, women joined not as single-minded crusaders, but as citizens interested in many phases of social welfare and good government. The present organization is still set up similarly, with two major components: 1) action, to study issues, survey opinions of members, and act to implement the members' consensus (also known as "programs"), and 2) voters service, to provide people with information on elections through educational events and services. In 1948, the group changed its name to the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts (LWVM).


Includes General Files, material relating to League organization and finances on both national and state level, and minutes of the Massachusetts Board of Directors' meetings; also copies of mailings and publications dealing with specific League projects in the areas of government, legislation, education, welfare and correction.
Most of the addenda (Series XII-XIV) consists of printed reports and memoranda; there is very little correspondence. With the exception of one folder of records from the International Relations Committee, the addenda begin with the year 1962/1963.
The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts' web site is being captured periodically as part of Harvard University Library's Web Archive Collection service (WAX); searchable archived versions of the web site will be available through this finding aid in 2010.


Container List

Additional Index Terms

Associations, institutions, etc.
Birth control--Massachusetts
Civil service--Massachusetts
Electronic records
International relations
Massachusetts--Economic policy
Massachusetts--Politics and government
Massachusetts--Social policy
Politics, Practical
Prisons--Law and legislation--Massachusetts
Regional planning--Massachusetts
Web sites
Women--Political activity
Massachusetts Reformatory for Women (Sherborn, Mass.)