League of Women voters celebrates centennial


The League of Women Voters of Martha’s Vineyard is announcing the launch of a yearlong celebration of the nation’s ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women the power of the vote. The year of ratification — 1920 — also marks the creation of the national League of Women Voters.

Ninety-nine years ago, Carrie Chapman Catt first proposed a League of Women Voters to “finish the fight” and work to end all discrimination against women. The league was founded during the convention of the National American Women Suffrage Association, convened six months before the 19th amendment was ratified, ending a seven-decade struggle. 

“It is an exciting time for the league. We are calling the campaign ‘1920–2020: Honoring History-Making Progress’ to highlight the progress for women and the nation in the past 100 years,” Deborah Medders, chair of the league’s celebration planning committee, said in a press release.

The league is partnering with other Island institutions, including the M.V. Museum and the Chamber of Commerce, to organize a number of activities during the year. While the calendar is still a “work in progress,” league members are developing guest speaker events, discussion groups, reading lists for libraries and book clubs, a public symposium, and special exhibits, and will march in the July Fourth parade in Edgartown. 

“We are excited to partner with the League of Women Voters to help bring attention to the important role Island women played in shaping our Island’s history, and the work they are doing today to enrich our community,” museum executive director Philip Wallis said in the release. 

The campaign has set a goal of “100 percent for the 100th” — getting every woman, and man, on the Island who is not yet registered to vote to do so. 

“The Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce is reaching out to its members with lots of creative ideas to support the league’s campaign — perhaps special window treatments honoring the suffragettes, displaying the league’s ‘100 percent for the 100th’ voter registration information, marching in the July Fourth parade, and becoming donors to the league’s college scholarship. Island businesses owned or operated by women are a tribute to the progress women have made in the past 100 years, and we are proud to help remind everyone of that success,” Nancy Gardella, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, said in the release.