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A Guide to the Records of the League of Women Voters of Florida

Finding aid created by Paola Pizzichini

University of Florida Smathers Libraries - Special and Area Studies Collections
May 2010


Descriptive Summary

Creator: League of Women Voters of Florida
Title: Records of the League of Women Voters of Florida
Dates: 1939-1978
Abstract: The Records of the League of Women Voters of Florida document the first 40 years of the League's activities related to increasing women's involvement in politics and improving Florida's legislation.
Extent: 3.5 Linear feet. 8 boxes.
Identification: MS 38
Language(s): English

Biographical/Historical Note

The League of Women Voters of Florida (LWVF) is a non-partisan political organization affiliated with the League of Women Voters of the United States. It was founded in 1939 as the Non Partisan League of Women Voters of Florida (NPLWVF). A previous state organization named the Florida State League of Women Voters (FSLWV) had been established in 1921 with Mrs. J.B. O'Hara as the first president. It coordinated lobbying activities through annual conventions, sponsored citizenship schools, and started publishing the Florida Voter newsletter. However, the FSLWV was disbanded in 1937 by the president of the national League of Women Voters because of difficulties in maintaining its non-partisanship.

The NPLWVF had its first organizational meeting on October 29, 1939. The participants elected the officers (Mrs. Nelson Poynter was the first president) and adopted a budget and bylaws (documents from the first organizational meeting can be found in box 1). Early activities focused on three main goals: study of Florida's state government, surveying the school system, and monitoring the foreign policy of United States. From 1940 to 1947 the NPLWVF held annual state conventions at which officers were elected and budget and program of works were discussed and approved. The NPLWVF board of directors also held periodic meetings between the statewide conferences.

At the 1947 Convention, the members agreed to change the name of the organization to the League of Women Voters of Florida (LWVF). During that same convention, the assembly resolved that the LWVF hold a biennial convention in even numbered years and council meetings in alternate years. Starting in 1968 the state conferences were scheduled in odd numbered years.

Although the LWVF has functioned as a non-partisan association, it has had considerable influence on state politics. From the 1950s through the 1980s, the LWVF promoted and participated in the constitutional revision process, and focused on reapportionment and election reform. The LWVF began using lobbyists in 1949 when Maxine Baker was elected as the first lobbyist to be sent to Tallahassee. During this period she founded the newsletter Tallahassee Topics (later Tally Topics) to inform members about legislative activities in the capital (see box 4, Tally Topics). Beginning in 1981, the LWVF began hiring professional lobbyists. Starting in the 1950s a large number of LWVF leaders have also held office in the state and national legislatures.

Education has been one of the main areas of interest for the LWVF throughout its history. The League started monitoring the state of Florida's public schools in the 1940s and has fought for improvement of the education system for several decades. In 1972 the LWVF established an Education Fund to support citizen education activities. In addition to education, the LWVF also has focused on other subjects including housing, taxation, environmental quality, natural resources, social policy, and equal rights amendments.

The LWVF also coordinates the activities of local leagues and serves as the channel of communication between the local groups and the League of Women Voters of the United States. The local leagues have to operate under bylaws that are not in conflict with the state and national League bylaws (e.g., they must adhere to the non-partisan policy). Each local league holds an annual meeting, elects its officers, and participates in state or national programs. In addition, they have to periodically report their activities to the LWVF.

Sources: Arnetta Brown, Recollections: A History of the League of Women Voters of Florida 1939-1988, League of Women Voters of Florida, St. Petersburg, 1989. Virgil D. Chandler, "Brief History of the Florida State League of Women Voters," in Florida State League of Women Voters Year Book, 1932-1933. League of Women Voters of Florida website: www.lwvfla.org


Scope and Content

The Records of the League of Women Voters of Florida are comprised primarily of presidential correspondence and files about the organization of conventions and meetings, the coordination of local leagues, and the League's relationship with the League of Women Voters of the United States. Early documents reveal the efforts of the League to educate women through citizenship schools and women's involvement in politics and the activities of local leagues. Later documents provide evidence of the increased importance of the LWVF in state politics and the legislative process.

The papers are organized in four series. The Administrative Series includes correspondence of the presidents (especially related to the organization of the conventions and council meetings), convention materials, bylaws, and minutes of council and other meetings.

The Legislative Programs Series consists of subject files concerning the different areas of interest and actions of LWVF such as constitutional amendments, health and welfare, and reapportionment in Florida. The series also includes the legislative testimonies and statements given by LWVF committees and members to the Florida Legislature in support or in defense of programs and legislative proposals. Of particular interest are records documenting: the revision of Florida's 1885 Constitution in the 1960s, reform of state tax structure, improvements of the education system, election law, ratification of equal rights amendments, environmental issues, and housing.

The National League Series contains LWVF presidential correspondence with officers of the League of Women Voters of the United States, annual reports of state and local activities, national conference and convention materials, files about national programs, and publications.

The Local Leagues Series consists of correspondence from local chapters to the president of the LWVF, copies of letters from the national League to the local chapters, letters from the national League recognizing local leagues, organization reports edited by local presidents, and a compilation of state board reports sent to the local leagues.


Access or Use Restrictions

Access

The collection is open for research.


Related or Separated Material

For additional information see also the Maxine E. Baker Papers and the Florida NOW Records at the University of Florida Smathers Libraries.


Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Records of the League of Women Voters of Florida, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Acquisition Information

The records were donated to the University of Florida by the League of Women Voters of Florida.

Processing Notes

The collection was reprocessed in 2009. Previously, the records had been organized and described in two groups. The first group, consisting of 5 boxes, included records spanning from the establishment of LWVF (as NPLWVL) in 1939 to 1951. The second group consisted of 3 boxes that contained documents from 1959 to 1977. The present arrangement aims to respect the original order of the records, as suggested by original handwritten notes.


Contents List

Series 1 - Administrative 1939-1977

The Administrative Series includes correspondence of the presidents (especially related to the organization of the conventions and council meetings), convention materials, bylaws, and minutes of council and other meetings.


Box
1 1st-6th State Conventions (President correspondence, minutes, conferences materials, and programs). 1939-1946
1 President Poynter correspondence. 1939-1940
1 President Gaber correspondence with the National League of Women Voters and members of NPLWVF. 1941-1945
1 President Melcher correspondence. 1945
1 Circulars to League members (about conventions). 1942, 1943, 1944
1 Bylaws. 1939-1943
1 Budgets. 1939-1946
1 Treasurer Reports. 1942-1945
1 President Reports. 1943, 1945
1 State convention reports and minutes. 1943-1945
1 Post-convention board meeting minutes. 1945
1 Board of Directors and committee chairs. 1940-1946
1 Annual state conventions programs. 1940-1945
1 State programs of work. 1940-1946
1 Agenda for pre-convention board meeting. 1945
1 Rosters of present members and voters. 1943-1945
1 Newspaper clippings concerning the conventions. 1940-1944
1 Mrs. John A. Baker (NPLWVF Secretary) newspaper clippings. 1940-1942
1 Convention badges belonging to Mrs. John Burks (Miami).
1 7th-8th State Conventions and State Board Meetings (Presidents correspondence, minutes, programs). 1945-1949
1 President Melcher correspondence. 1945-1947
1 Convention Chair Ignez G. Sauls correspondence. 1946
1 Pre-convention meeting of the Board of Directors minutes. 1946-1947
1 State convention programs. 1946-1947
1 State convention minutes. 1946-1947
1 State convention reports. 1946-1947
1 Board of Directors. 1945-1948
1 Budgets. 1946-1948
1 State programs of work. 1946-1949
1 Rosters of present members. 1946
1 Circulars to League members (about conventions). 1946
1 Non-Partisan Convention Times-Journal, Jacksonville Fl, March [18-20]. 1946
1 The Florida Voter. Bulletin of the Florida Non-Partisan League of Women Voters, vol. 1, no. 1. 1946
1 Newspaper clippings. 1945-1946
1 State Board meeting minutes. 1945-1947
1 Questionnaire for state Leagues by National League of Women Voters (Includes answers by local leagues in Florida). 1947
1 State Council meeting minutes. 1946
1 Reports of conference of local Leagues of Women Voters of Florida with national president of League of Women Voters and state board of Florida. 1946
1 Report of activities. 1946-1947
1 President Correspondence. 1945-1948
1 President Melcher correspondence to: local presidents, state board members, members of Congress (Pat Cannon) and House of Representatives (Tyn Cobb). 1945-1946
1 President Baker correspondence. 1947-1948
1 9th Annual Meeting of the League of Women Voters of Florida (1948). 1947-1949
1 Annual meeting program. 1948
1 Annual meeting report (about schools). 1948
1 State board roster. 1948-1949
1 Annual reports of: Finance Chair, Chair of Education for the League, Legislative Chair. 1947-1948
1 Minutes of meeting on amendments to state constitution and printed copy. 1948
1 Roster of local league presidents. 1948-1949
1 Budget. 1947-1948
1 Annual Organization Report (information about local leagues requested by the national League). 1948
1 Local League annual reports (Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Jacksonville, St. Petersburg, Winter Park-Orlando). 1947-1948
1 Recognition chart from national League (correspondence with the national League and report from local Leagues). 1947
1 Minutes and reports of meetings of Board of Directors. 1947-1948
1 President Baker correspondence. 1947-1948
1 Handout concerning the state of schools in Florida by the Education Committee (Jacksonville). 1947
1 President Correspondence and State Board Meetings. 1948-1949
1 Minutes of state board meetings. 1948-1949
1 Reports by Organization Chair Killen. 1948-1949
1 Reports from local leagues. 1948-1949
1 President Baker correspondence. 1948-1949
1 Documents about the organization of the 1949 Convention and suggestions by local leagues for the state program. 1949-1950
1 Manuscript: History of the League of Women Voters of Florida 1939 through 1949 by Maxine Baker (1 page). 1949
1 2nd Biennial Convention (10th Annual Meeting, 1949) - Minutes, program, financial reports, officers reports, and President Killel correspondence. 1948-1950
1 Annual organization reports. 1949-1951
1 3rd Biennial Convention (1951) and president correspondence - Program, minutes, financial reports, president Killen correspondence. 1950-1951
2 3rd-13th Conventions. 1951-1971
2 Programs of conventions. 1951, 1952, 1954, 1956
2 10th Biennial Convention Workbook "The Time It's Now!". 1964
2 11th Biennial Convention Workbook "Apportionment". 1966
2 Mrs Jerome (Robin) Krivanek and Mrs Walter R. (Lucille) Churchill's correspondence for 1969 convention planning. 1968
2 13th Biennial Convention Workbook "It's Your Bag!" (includes newspaper clippings about convention, minutes, and a letter by Governor Reubin O'D. Askew to President Malchon of LWVF). 1971
2 14th-16th Biennial Convention programs, workbooks, minutes, and correspondence. 1973-1977
2 Memoranda by President Betty Steatton, correspondence, program, and press releases on the 1973 Biennial Convention. 1973
2 15th Biennial Convention and 2nd Joint Biennial Convention with League of Women Voters of Florida Education Fund convention workbook, minutes, and reports. 1975
2 Reports and memoranda on 16th Biennial Convention and 3rd Joint Biennial Convention with League of Women Voters of Florida Education Fund. 1977
2 Councils programs and workbooks (Includes: "Handbook on Your Portfolio"; "Florida Voters," March 1967; and "Workshops," a compilation of themes discussed in 1963-1966 workshops). 1967-1976
2 Approved Minutes of Conventions, State Board meetings, and Councils. 1964-1969
2 Approved Minutes of Conventions, State Board meetings, and Councils. 1970-1977


Series 2 - Legislative Programs 1941-1978

The Legislative Programs Series consists of subject files concerning the different areas of interest and actions of LWVF such as constitutional amendments, health and welfare, and reapportionment in Florida. The series also includes the legislative testimonies and statements given by LWVF committees and members to the Florida Legislature in support or in defense of programs and legislative proposals. Of particular interest are records documenting: the revision of Florida's 1885 Constitution in the 1960s, reform of state tax structure, improvements of the education system, election law, ratification of equal rights amendments, environmental issues, and housing.


Box
3 Constitutional Amendments. 1941-1947
3 President Garber correspondence on constitutional amendments, pamphlet: "An Analysis of Proposed Constitutional Amendments to be Voted on in the General Election of 1942," by Attorney General J. Tom Watson. 1942
3 President Garber correspondence about constitutional amendments, pamphlets and drafts, newspaper clippings. 1943-1944
3 President Melcher correspondence about constitutional amendments, drafts of pamphlets. 1944
3 Maxine Baker correspondence on new Florida constitution, draft of broadsides. 1946-1947
3 Constitutional Amendments (President Baker and members of Committee on State Constitution correspondence, drafts of memo for voters, newspaper clippings.). 1947-1948
3 Constitutional Amendments and Citizen Constitution Committee. 1949-1952
3 President Killel correspondence with members of Committee on State Constitution, member of US Congress, members of State of Florida House of Representatives, other Leagues.
3 Studies on amendments, newspaper clippings, drafts and final version of memo for voters.
3 President Killel correspondence with J.E. Dovell (Chair of the Department of History and Political Science, University of Florida) about the organization of the Citizens Constitution Committee elected on Jan. 7, 1950 (Dovell as Chair and Killel a member of board of directors), and minutes of first meeting.
3 Reapportionment. 1942-1959
3 President Melcher correspondence on Florida reapportionment. 1944-1945
3 Questionnaire for Congressional Candidates. 1946
3 Voters Service Chair (Garber) correspondence.
3 President Killel correspondence with Hulda Grobman (Chair, Voters Service Committee). 1950
3 League of Women Voters of Florida broadsides. 1942-1959
3 Newspaper clippings. 1946
3 Member's Magazine. National League of Women Voters, April, May, and November. 1942
3 League of Women Voters of Florida, Our Financial State. The Tax Structure of Florida. 1959
3 League of Women Voters of the U.S., Little Drops of Water, September. 1957
3 League of Women Voters of Gainesville Florida, Study of the Tax Structure of Florida. State Current Agenda. 1959
3 League of Women Voters of Gainesville Florida, Report of the Housing Workshop. 1958
3 League of Women Voters of Gainesville Florida, Study of Local Government. 1958
3 Plan for Apportionment of Florida - Correspondence of Emily Barenfield (Executive Secretary of LWVF), Frances B. Poole (Secretary), Alice Halstead (President) and Lucille Churchill (Vice-President), and a senate reapportionment proposal map of Florida. 1963-1964
3 Health and Welfare - Correspondence and reports of the president and Legislative and Health Committees on children, adoption, milk, education, Florida's public welfare program, and other subjects; newspaper clippings; a LWVF handout entitled "Invest in Florida Future". 1941-1959
3 United Nations. 1948-1951
3 President Baker correspondence about "Know Your United Nations" program with National League and Florida U.N. Chair Mrs Robert F. (Eve) Davidson. Reports from local chairs.
3 Current Technical Assistance Activities of United Nations and Specialized Agencies. 1950
3 Department of State, Foreign Affairs Outlines. Building the Peace, n. 21. 1949
3 Office of Public Affair, Department of State, The "Point Four" Program. A progress report, n. 3. 1949
4 Legislative Statements and Testimonies. 1956-1970
4 Legislative Statements and Testimonies (Includes newspaper clippings). 1971-1973
4 Legislative Statements and Testimonies. 1974-1977
4 Tally Topics. The League of Women Voters of Florida Reports from Tallahassee on the Current Session of the Florida Legislature (Newsletter: Vol.2, no.1, Apr.14, 1967 - vol.9, no. 8, June 6, 1975). 1967-1975
4 Questionnaires (Retiring legislators questionnaire and results; campaign case study discussion guide). 1974
4 Legislative Seminars. 1973-1977
4 "Time for Action" (correspondence about the League's efforts to make Florida's tax structure more progressive). 1970-1978


Series 3 - National League 1942-1975

The National League Series contains LWVF presidential correspondence with officers of the League of Women Voters of the United States, annual reports of state and local activities, national conference and convention materials, files about national programs on a variety of subjects, and publications.


Box
5 National League of Women Voters Conference and Conventions (Programs, reports, and conference materials; newsletters, president correspondence, newspaper clippings). 1942-1946
5 National League of Women Voters Conference and Conventions (Programs, reports, and conference materials; newsletters, president correspondence). 1948
5 National League of Women Voters Conference and Conventions (Programs, reports, and conference materials; newsletters, president correspondence). 1950
5 Voters Service Regional Conference (President Killel correspondence about organizing the area conference). 1949
5 President Correspondence (President Garber's correspondence with national officers, local presidents and other state Leagues). 1942-1944
5 Presidents Correspondence (Presidents Garber, Melcher, Baker, Killel and Vice President Strickler). 1944-1949
5 National League Women Voters Publications. 1943-1947, 1950
5 Newsletters. 1944-1945
5 Brief for Action, LWVF Publication n. 151. 1950
5 Citizens All, vol.1, n. 1-8. 1943
5 Action. 1944-1947
5 Trends. 1944-1945
5 Pamphlets.
5 LWVF Annual Reports to League of Women Voters of the U.S. 1968-1971
5 LWVF Annual Reports to League of Women Voters of the U.S. 1972-1973
6 Amendments to Constitution. 1944-1945
6 Atomic Energy. 1946-1947
6 Bill to Repeal Chinese Exclusion Act (Magnuson Act). 1943
6 Civil Defense. 1942-1947
6 Displaced Persons, Stratton Bill. 1947-1948
6 Employment. 1942-1947
6 Foreign Policy (includes several national brochures). 1942-1945
6 Federal Aid To Education. 1939-1947
6 Food, Marshall Plan, and European Recovery Program. 1945-1948
6 Housing. 1945-1949
6 Inflation. 1942-1947
6 International Trade. 1946-1948
6 Military Conscriptions. 1945
6 Poll Tax and others taxes. 1941-1944
6 Reorganization of Congress. 1944-1946
6 United Nations (Includes several brochures, handouts, and pamphlets). 1944-1947
6 Miscellaneous documents, newsletters, and programs of the national LWV. 1942-1950


Series 4 - Local Leagues 1942-1968

The Local Leagues Series consists of correspondence from local chapters to the president of the LWVF, copies of letters from the national League to the local chapters, letters from the national League recognizing local leagues, organization reports edited by local presidents, and a compilation of state board reports sent to the local leagues.


Box
7 State Board Reports to Local Boards. 1959, 1962-1964
7 State Board Reports to Local Boards. 1965-1968
7 Clearwater - Bylaws, roster of members, list of board members, minutes, programs, news clippings, organization report, correspondence. 1946-1951
7 Cocoa - Bylaws, list of board members, organization report, correspondence, and two publications about Cocoa and Brevard County: "Know Your Town" (1948), "Know Your County" (1950). 1946-1950
7 Ft. Lauderdale - Correspondence, roster of members, news clippings. 1942-1945
7 Ft. Myers - Bylaws, correspondence, roster of members, newspaper clippings, primary elections broadside, roster of officers and directors, and "Bulletin of the Provisional League of Women Voters of Ft. Myers". 1946-1950
8 Gainesville - Reports, correspondence, list of officers and members, correspondence, programs, "Bulletin of the League of Women Voters of Gainesville". 1947-1951
8 Jacksonville - Correspondence, rosters of members and officers, programs, news clipping, "Bulletin of the League of Women Voters of Jacksonville". 1943-1950
8 Lakeland - Correspondence, roster of members and directors, "Know Your Town" publication, reports. 1948-1950
8 Miami - Bylaws, roster of members and directors, programs, reports, broadside for primary elections, "Bulletin of the Miami League of Women Voters". 1940-1951
8 Pensacola - Bylaws, correspondence, programs, reports, board of directors, news clippings, "Survey for Unit Discussion on the United Nations," "The Tally Sheet". 1941, 1949-1951
8 St. Augustine - Board of officers, roster of members, programs, minutes of meetings, organization reports, and bylaws. 1949-1951
8 St. Petersburg - Bylaws, list of members, board of directors, programs, correspondence, broadside for voters, news clippings and a "Vote Yes for Better Schools" handout of the Citizens' Advisory Committee for Pinellas County Schools. 1940-1951
8 Tallahassee - "'Operations Tallahassee'. Diary of the League of Women Voters of Florida in Tallahassee During Legislative Session". 1951
8 Tampa - Reports, list of officers and directors, correspondence, "Provisional League of Women Voters of Tampa Notebook in Connection with Local Level Studies". 1949-1950
8 Winter Haven - Board of directors, members, bylaws, reports, correspondence, and "The League Clarion. Leagues of Women Voters of Winter Haven" vol. 1, no. 4, and vol. 2, no. 4. 1945-1950


Selected Subjects and Access Terms

Women -- Florida -- Societies and clubs.
Women in politics -- Florida -- Societies, etc.



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