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Minutes of the Second Annual Convention of the North Carolina League of Women Voters

Minutes of the Second Annual Convention of the North Carolina League of Women Voters, page 1

Minutes of the Second Annual Convention of the North Carolina League of Women Voters

Minutes of the Second Annual Convention of the North Carolina League of Women Voters
Greensboro, N.C., February 16, 1922

At 10 o’clock, Thursday morning, February 16, 1922, the second Annual Convention of the North Carolina League of Women Voters was called to order by the State Chairman, Miss Gertrude Weil, after which the audience joined in the Lord’s Prayer.

Committees were next appointed by the Chairman. Mrs. Julian B. Salley of Aiken, S.C., Third Regional Director, was introduced by the Chairman.

Mrs. Salley made a short and instructive address on the work of the State Leagues in the southeast.

Miss Weil, State Chairman, made the following annual report:

“Members of the North Carolina League of Women Voters and Friends:

The purpose and plan of the League of Women Voters is so simple, so logical and compelling that one needs only to understand it fully to become convinced of its truly important place in the life of the woman citizen.

As full fledged citizens, with equal privileges as men citizens, we have now also equal obligations toward our government. How can we discharge these obligations most efficiently, most serviceably? First, by being INFORMED, by KNOWING – knowing how our city, our county, our State, our nation is governed, who are its officers, how their duties are executed, what are its laws, how they are made, how they are administered, knowing wherein they are adequate and progressive, wherein they are unjust or detrimental to the common good. We want knowledge based on facts, convictions founded on painstaking investigation. To this end we urge all women to study their government, both theoretically and as an operating actuality; we urge them to attend the meetings of their alderman and county commissioners, to follow the doings of their legislators when they get to the State Capitol, to keep

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Minutes of the Second Annual Convention of the North Carolina League of Women Voters, page 2

Minutes of the Second Annual Convention of the North Carolina League of Women Voters

in touch even with far off Washington and the salons on Capitol Hill. We urge women to know, through studious investigation, the conditions relating to Child Welfare, to Women in Industry, to Social Hygiene, to Food Demand and Supply, and the cases where the law differentiates between men and women and why.

When we know what conditions are and how they might be improved, we are prepared to face the second part of our program: POLITICAL ACTION. This means using our direct and indirect influence in the nomination and election of the best possible officials; it means keeping in close touch with their political careers (keeping them informed of our opinions and wishes, praising them for their championship of just and progressive measures, instead of only condemning them for the reverse stand); political action means standing behind legislation which, through our study and investigation, we have found to be for the purpo progress of the State and Nation and for the betterment of conditions.

Political action means, incidentally, the practical affiliation with political parties, since our government is run on the party system. The League of Women Voters, therefore, urges women to join the parties and to work in and through them; it urges that they do this with KNOWLEDGE and CONVICTION as a basis of party membership.

POLITICAL ACTION, that we urge upon women, means simply and fundamentally a literal interpretation of republican government, responsibility of the citizen to the government and the responsibility of the government, through its chosen officials, to the individual citizen. This government is ours—it can be no better and no worse than we choose to make it.

We recognize preparation for this sort of intelligent, conscientious, active citizenship the urgent duty of every citizen. You remember reading a short time ago the reminiscence related by Dr. E.C. Brooks of our later Governor Bickett. Before his evening fire Mr. Bickett was confiding to Dr. Brooks his visions for the future. He did not expect to practice law always, but when circumstances should allow he looked forward to devoting himself to training youth for citizenship, perhaps in the Appalachian School in the mountains. I had known that we had lost from out midst a great man, who had done great things in the past and who would have added other greatness to his accomplishments had he lived, but now I felt poignantly the particular great thing that he had not had time to do. I felt anew an even keener sense of loss. And then it came to me: if he, with his rich experience in private and public life, and the clear view of things that this experience and his keen insight gave him, looked to the training of youth for citizenship as [the] ultimate end toward which his life should lead, then we are indeed right in judging that we have done well in placing this goal before ourselves.

During the 16 months since the organization of our

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Minutes of the Second Annual Convention of the North Carolina League of Women Voters, page 3

Minutes of the Second Annual Convention of the North Carolina League of Women Voters

State League here in Greensboro, we have but begun to work out the big, comprehensive program before us. However obvious may be the need of training for citizenship and active participation on its prerogatives, it nevertheless seems to take argument and persuasion to impress the average group of women with this need and its urgency. We have found that this can be done only through personal visits, not correspondence. For the past four weeks we have had Miss Doris Graves, a National League organizer, at work in the State. She has visited Rocky Mount, Wilson, New Bern, Kinston, Charlotte and Gastonia. She has organized Leagues in Wilson and Charlotte. She will later tell you something of her experience and the conditions for organizing. I would strongly recommend that this program of organization be continued. The most desirable plan would be to have a worker who should serve as organizer in the field and also keep in touch with all local leagues, directing and strengthening them in their organization and citizenship plans. If the life of the Leagues is not to be sporadic and ephemeral, they will have to have expert guidance, which volunteer officers seldom have the time or ability to provide. I would urge this matter of a permanent field worker, or Executive Secretary as one of the essentials to permanent growth.

This brings its corollary—the raising of funds sufficient to employ such a worker. I am firmly of the opinion that an efficient worker in this capacity would mean an incalculably valuable asset in the political education of the State and in the stimulation of interest in our government. There could be no more profitable investment than the contribution of money to this purpose—it would be giltedged investment in good citizenship!

The legislative work of the League in the State has been in conjunction with three other state organizations of women, the Federation of Women’s Clubs, the Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, which together with the League of Women Voters form the Legislative Council. The function of the Council is to work for measures that are endorsed by the compooent [sic] organizations. Its work during the 1921 session will be reported in detail by Mrs. Palmer Jerman. At this meeting, after hearing the findings of the several department chairmen, we should adopt a legislative program for the next General Assembly of 1923. I strongly suggest that we make a careful selection of what may seem the most important and most immediately urgent measures. It has proven more expedient to concentrate on a few fundamental measures than to scatter our energies over a broader field.

The outstanding feature of our work in federal legislation has been for the passage of the Sheppard-Towner Maternity Bill, now the Sheppard-Towner Act, the first big legislative

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Minutes of the Second Annual Convention of the North Carolina League of Women Voters, page 4

Minutes of the Second Annual Convention of the North Carolina League of Women Voters

undertaking of the National League. We like to feel that is [sic] was because of our expression “back home” in favor of this measure that our North Carolina Congressmen gave it their almost unanimous support. (Not voting: Kitchin and Lyon; opposed: Ward. Senate vote Nov. 29 19 July 22, 1921; House vote, Nov. 19; signed Nov. 23). The next federal measure on our program is to provide independent citizenship for women, that is, independent of the citizenship fof the husband. Mrs. Park will later speak of this as well as other federal measures.

The idea of the calling of an international conference for the discussion of the limitation of armament was introduced to the National League while convened in annual session in Cleveland last April—before Senator Borah’s now historic amendment to the Naval Appropriations Bill. We are proud that the National League of Women Voters was the first to make history in this direction. Co-operation with the National Committee for the Reduction of Armament has been an important part of our work, first in getting resolutions passed asking that the proposed conference be invited to meet in Washington, then expressions of appreciation for calling the conference, of confidence in the possible results of the conference as the first step toward a better international understanding. In carrying on this work in the State we have co-operated with the State Federation of Women’s Clubs, the Society of Friends, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, and the Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Club’s. The story of the hundreds of thousands of expressions in the form of letters and resolutions that have poured into Washington from all parts of the country in regard to the conference is stirring as an evidence of the people’s wish for a reduction of armament and a foundation for permanent peace. It is evidence of interested citizenship—an example of INFORMED citizenship and ACTIVE citizenship. When this sort of interest and expression of interest shall become the rule, when our chosen representatives shall feel that we, the people, are eagerly attentive to their every action, and when we, the people, feel that our chosen representatives are responsive to our well considered wishes, then we shall have come near to the attainment of our political ideals, then democracy will have come into its own.”

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Date / time
February 16, 1922

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Minutes of the Second Annual Convention of the North Carolina League of Women Voters." (Viewed on February 7, 2016) <>.


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