Colorado and Boulder Valley League of Women Voters
The League of Women Voters was officially formed in February of 1920, at the Victory Convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association in Chicago. The League’s first effort was to ‘finish the fight’ that the women’s suffrage had begun.
While non-partisan, the League promoted certain legislative aims, particularly those, which pertained to women’s equal participation in government and the improvement of living conditions for women and children. Among these aims were the regulation of child labor, and numerous child welfare programs. The League championed independent citizenship for married women, women’s right to equal guardianship of children, and equal wages, as well as the inclusion of women on juries. They furthered nationally, uniform marriage and divorce laws, and citizenship instruction in the public school curricula.
In 1928, Mrs. Mabel Costigan (wife of Edward P. Costigan) was commissioned by the National League President Miss Belle Sherman to establish a Colorado branch of the League of Women Voters. Mrs. Costigan had been living in Washington D.C. and was the Chairman of the “Living Costs Committee” in the National League. Members included many of the elite women of Colorado society, whose family connections included US Senators, state governors, and prominent, Denver area businessmen.
The state branch of the League, as well as the local city and county branches, went under the name of the “Women Citizen’s League of Colorado,” since the name “League of Women Voters” was being used in Colorado by another women’s group unaffiliated with the National League of Women Voters. In 1929, when the Colorado League was officially incorporated, it had twenty-seven members, including twenty-one from Denver, three from Boulder, two from Colorado Springs and one from Greeley.
In 1929, the Colorado League began a “Study Group” on state government. They supported the “Maternity and Infancy Legislation,” the government operation of Muscle Shoals, and the “Lame Duck Amendment,” which shortened the time between election and inauguration. The Colorado League was always focused on State issues and influencing state legislation.
The records of the Colorado League (1929-1989) document the founding, membership, meetings, publications, reports, studies and activities of the Colorado State League of Women Voters. The emphasis of the collection is on topics of concern, rather than organizational files. The bulk of the material relates to the years 1960–1980. More extensively-covered subjects include environmental issues, legislation pertaining to juveniles, taxation and financing government services, districting and reapportionment.
As with other local Leagues, the Boulder Valley League’s activities provided a barometer of its consituency’s political interests. Some of the Boulder Leagues’ first local studies concerned traffic safety, the advantage of municipally-owned utilities, welfare legislation, the prevention of juvenile delinquency, public health, aging, and sanitation. In the 1940’s the League promoted compulsory pasteurization of milk, improvement in city sanitation standards, and the establishment and expansion of Boulder recreation facilities. In the 1950’s, the Boulder League was concerned with city planning, zoning development, and parks. Reflecting the population growth of the 1960’s, they published “know Your Country” and “Know Your Schools” studies, and advanced the establishment of annexation standards for Boulder, as well as furthering the fight against discrimination in education, housing and employment. In the 1970’s the League continued with its concern for the growth and development, the ERA, alternatives to incarceration, and county home rule. The environmentalism of the 1980’s show up in the League’s promotion of energy-efficient houses, environmental protection, and an end to the arms race.
The records (1931-1991) document the activities of the Boulder Valley League of Women Voters. The majority of the material pertains to the 1960’s and 70’s, with a concentration on the studies conducted by the League investigating local concerns.
Together these collections show the functional relationship between a statewide organization and one of its county level sub organizations. More importantly, these collections track women’s organizational attempts to address their political concerns after national suffrage for women was achieved.