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League of Women Voters Community Collection

The League of Women Voters of Lexington, Kentucky, was established in 1920. It is the local chapter of a national nonpartisan nonprofit organization that encourages informed and active participation of citizens in local, state, and national government. 
 
In January 1920, Lexington’s Leader reported, “The Fayette County Equal Rights Association will become the Fayette County League of Women Voters when thirty-six states have ratified the Federal suffrage amendment or the Kentucky Legislature grants presidential suffrage to women.”  The 19th amendment to legalize women’s voting rights had been approved by both the House and Senate in July, 1919, and was submitted to the states for ratification, requiring 36 for adoption. Tennessee became the 36th state on August 18, 1920. On August 26, 1920, the nineteenth amendment was signed into law. 
 
Kentucky was the 24th state to ratify on January 6, 1920, and the local chapter of the League of Women Voters was formed, seven months before national ratification. In addition, on March 29, 1920, Kentucky passed and signed a separate bill ensuring that Kentucky women would have the right to vote, in case ratification was not reached. 
 
At the time, Madeline McDowell Breckinridge of Ashland was the president of the Kentucky Equal Rights Association, and Mabel Sawyer McVey was the president of the Fayette County chapter. These and many other organizations had lobbied for national suffrage, and women were able to vote for the first time in the 1920 election between Warren G. Harding and James M. Cox.
 
Since its creation, the League of Women Voters has played an active role in encouraging voter registration and civic engagement in the community.
 
The collection contains assorted membership rolls, photographs, and documents for the local chapter. 
 

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