Born out of the suffragist movement just 17 years after Carrie Chapman Catt laid the cornerstone of the National League of Women Voters, the Pasadena League began in 1936 with a clutch of civic-minded women in the living room of a San Marino home.
Itching to get to work, they established the “Pasadena Unit” only three months after the initial session. About 100 women convened March 31, 1936, at Pasadena’s public meeting hall, La Casita del Arroyo, to launch the local League of Women Voters. Working out of an office in the Women’s City Club, the fledgling Pasadena LWV quickly moved into local issues, despite a pledge to leave that to the venerable Pasadena Civic League established 25 years earlier.
“The boys at city hall were made very much aware that there was an organization of high-minded, low-heeled ladies on the barricade,” said an early League president.
The maverick league also broke the gender barrier in 1974, admitting men members a decade before the national League did. Lee Merriman, editor of the Pasadena Star-News at the time boasted he was a “card-carrying” League member.
At present, the League works out of a storefront office and continues as a vibrant organization with a membership of about 300 from Pasadena and nine other communities – Alhambra, Altadena, La Canada Flintridge, Monrovia, Monterey Park, San Gabriel, San Marino, Sierra Madre and South Pasadena.
Education and welfare of children, eradication of gender and racial discrimination, responsible government and expanding citizen participation continue as the bedrock of LWV-PA. The League addresses these issues through public forums, monthly discussion groups, a speaker’s bureau for ballot pros and cons, unbiased election materials, candidate forums, voter registration drives and advocacy efforts.
Here are highlights decade by decade:
|1936-1939||Instrumental is a “street trader law” to protect youths hawking newspapers on the street|
|1940-1949||Helped save the Pasadena Planning Commission; saw appointment of two women to the commission. Led tours of City Hal|
|1950-1959||Published “The Perfect City” as a tool to promote city planning and elimination of blight. Supported establishment of Redevelopment Commission|
|1960-1969||Supported separation of junior college from Pasadena Unified School District. Promoted district-only elections for Pasadena City Council to increase minority representation|
|1970-1979||Became a plaintiff in a lawsuit charging Pasadena school district with violation of Brown Act. Became a Pasadena Area League and second largest League in the state. Supported integration of Pasadena public schools|
Supported formation of the Pasadena Commission on the Status of Women
Moved to a storefront office
Hosted state LWV convention
|1980-1989||Supported bond measure for new Pasadena police station. Members move into professions, assumed management positions in influential community organizations and joined city commissions, councils and school boards|
|1990-1999||Studied and endorsed Instant Runoff Voting for single-seat elections. Facilitated School-Age Child Care Project. Supported community access TV|
|2000-2009||Instrumental in passage of Taxpayer Protection Act in Pasadena. Supported Citizen’s Redistricting Commission. Advocate for state universal health care bills|
|2010 – present||Advocacy efforts on key issues increases|
The League of Women Voters Through the Decades: March 2016