Austin History Center

League of Women Voters Austin Area Records

An Inventory of the Collection

Overview of the Collection

Creator: League of Women Voters Austin Area
Title: League of Women Voters Austin Area Records
Dates: 1919-2013
Abstract: The League of Women Voters Austin Area is a political advocacy organization with roots in the women's suffrage movement of the early part of the twentieth century. The League advocates for voter rights, efficient and transparent government, and issues of public welfare. This collection, dating from 1919 to 2013, contains organizational records including League constitutions, bylaws, and member lists, voter issue studies and reports, records of members' participation in the League Observer Corps, printed materials from local and state League chapters, newspaper clippings, slides, and scrapbooks.
Identification: AR.1994.093
Quantity: 9 linear feet (18 boxes, 4 oversized volumes)
Language: The records are in English.
Repository: Austin History Center, Austin Public Library,
810 Guadalupe, PO Box 2287, Austin, TX 78768

Administrative History

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century in the United States, campaigns for women's suffrage were fought at the regional and local level. In the state of Texas, organizations such as the Texas Woman Suffrage Association and the Texas Equal Suffrage Association lobbied intensively for the right of women to vote - a right that was achieved with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1919. After women gained the vote, supporters of women's suffrage formed the National League of Women Voters (LWV) to help educate women to carry out their new responsibilities as voters and to encourage them to participate in shaping public policy.

Texas law had enfranchised women to vote in primary elections in 1918; consequently, the Texas branch of the LWV was created in 1919, a year before Carrie Chapman Catt founded the National League of Women Voters in 1920. Jessie Daniel Ames of Georgetown was the first president of the League of Women Voters of Texas (LWV-TX), holding office from 1919 to 1923. This state organization published a monthly newspaper, the New Citizen, to help educate newly enfranchised Texas women. Austin resident Jane Y. McCallum held several offices in the LWV-TX during its early years. In addition, McCallum served from 1923-1925 as executive secretary of the Women's Joint Legislative Council, a collaborative lobbying group (known as the "Petticoat Lobby"), which supported legislative reforms for issues relating to women and children, including improved education, health funding, and the abolition of child labor. The Petticoat Lobby, whose membership also included the Texas Federation of Women's Clubs, the Mothers Congress, and the Texas chapter of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, dissolved after the 1929 Texas legislative session. However, the state and national LWV organizations continued their mission of voter education, moving from their original mission of outreach to women to a more general program of encouraging voter awareness of governmental policies. LWV-TX, for example, worked to help pass the Secret Ballot Bill in 1949, ensuring anonymity for Texas voters. It also worked for the passage of a 1954 constitutional amendment that enabled Texas women to serve on juries. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, the LWV-TX supported the establishment of a system of family courts in Texas and compiled a comprehensive "Know Your State" survey that became the textbook Texas Constitutional Review.

The Austin chapter of the LWV, formed in 1919, extended this model of voter education to issues affecting Austin residents. In addition, the organization emphasized the importance of training its members to participate in public service on a local, state, and national level. In 1924, Mrs. Noyes D. Smith led the Austin League in its successful campaign to bring a Council-Manager model to Austin city government. Smith was later named the only woman to serve on Texas' first Board of Education. The Austin LWV ceased to function in the 1930s, but in the 1940s it revived its efforts, developing studies for orderly city growth and zoning. The group's interest in urban planning and good government is illustrated by League members' service in the 1950s and 1960s on numerous county and municipal commissions, such as the Charter Revision Committee, the Austin-Travis County Organization for Regional Planning, and the Urban Renewal Committee.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Austin LWV members voted to study a number of local topics related to education and government. Concerned about the quality of education in Austin, the group voted in 1970 to begin a study of the Austin Independent School District. This effort included not only a comprehensive study of AISD administration and financing, but also personal interviews of administrators and a teacher survey. Members also conducted extensive research for a local property tax study; subsequently, the group made recommendations for consolidating overlapping tax offices into a single tax appraisal district.

During the same time period, the Austin LWV participated in a national LWV program called the Observer Corps. Members of the Observer Corps attended the public meetings of a number of local and state government agencies, including the Austin City Council, the Austin Planning Commission, and the Travis County Commissioners court. The LWV representatives took notes of meeting decisions and board members' stances on issues, encouraging public participation in decision-making and promoting public access to governmental agencies. The group published advocacy papers and voters' guides based on these studies and observations that made specific recommendations for city, county, and state legislative initiatives.

The League of Women Voters is comprised of national, state, and local chapters, with boards at each level conducting studies about public policy issues, determining key focal issues, and creating action plans for each fiscal year. Membership is open to anyone who subscribes to League policies.

Scope and Contents

This collection is primarily composed of records and printed materials from the Austin League of Women Voters (LWV) with supporting printed materials from the Texas and national LWV. The records include information about the formation of the Texas LWV, local membership, and activities supporting the League's mission to "encourage the informed and active participation of citizens in government, work to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influence public policy through education and advocacy."

The Organizational Records series (1919-2013, undated) contains materials from the earliest days of the Texas LWV. This series includes League bylaws and constitutions from 1919-1922, membership records, histories produced for LWV anniversaries, correspondence of Jane Yelvington Legette McCallum from the 1930s, scrapbooks, a 1970 Book of Remembrances (sic) for League members, meeting minutes, financial reports, member handbooks, memos, questionnaires, and LWV instructional materials regarding organizational roles and methods. Materials in this series document the organization and focus of an influential women's political organization, from founding in 1919 through seventy years of activity. Documents pertaining to Jane McCallum and Jessie Daniel Ames may be of interest to historians of the women's rights movement. Also of note are three scrapbooks of clippings, newsletters, correspondence, and other materials from the 1940s showing League involvement in issues of local, state, national, and international policy during and after World War II. In addition to their work to end the poll tax and institute a secret ballot, the League promoted anti- inflation legislation, ratification of the United Nations charter, and creation of the International Monetary Fund. The 1945-1946 scrapbook contains correspondence from Texas legislators responding to letters from members of the Austin LWV, including two letters from Lyndon B. Johnson when he served in the United States House of Representatives (1937-1949).

The Observer Corps Records series (1968-1981, undated) consists of materials relating to the LWV Observer Corps, a program where league members attend governmental meetings as non- participating observers to learn what their government is doing and to monitor whether those meetings are conducted in an open and transparent way. Austin LWV Observer Corps records include annotated meeting agendas from the Austin Independent School Board, Travis County Commissioners, Austin City Council, Capital Area Planning Council, Historical Landmarks Commission, and City Planning Commission. Additional records include information regarding Observer Corps activities in other League chapters, and letters sent to politicians to inform them of Observer Corp members' attendance at future city and county meetings.

One of the activities central to the LWV mission is the study of public policy issues in order to inform voters and effectively lobby for the public interest. The Voter Issue Studies and Related Materials series (1951-2009, undated) contains reports and study materials produced and used by the Austin LWV in this work, and includes material pertaining to access to the vote, especially for traditionally disenfranchised populations, effective and transparent governance, and public welfare. The files in this series document the social, political, and economic environment of Austin, Texas, in the 1970s and 1980s. The subject matter covered in this series includes property tax law, city finance, zoning regulations, Austin Independent School Board policies, and the Texas criminal and juvenile judicial systems. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the League studied several issues involving property tax codes, including school and city finance. The League decided to make property tax reform a top priority for 1977, and consequently lobbied for changes in property tax law including assessment according to market value of the property, state supervision to ensure fair and equitable assessment, and adequate training for tax assessors. Records from this subject study include two books of slides of properties in east Austin, from 1970-1979, to document the inequality of the current system of taxation. These slides may be of particular interest to researchers of mid-century architecture and city development.

The Publications series(1952-1979, undated) contains material from local, state, and national leagues. As a multi-tiered organization, the League of Women Voters publishes a great deal of administrative and informational materials for internal use and external dissemination. The National and State League publications in this series contextualize the organizational structure and activities of the Austin chapter and illustrate the relationship between National, State, and Local levels of the organization. Histories of the National LWV Forty Years of a Good Idea and A Portrait of the League of Women Voters describe the formation, focus, and activities of the League, and are essential to understanding the functioning of the Austin LWV. Local League Handbook and Guide for a Local League Treasurer provide information about the organizational structure of the Austin chapter. Study and Action in Texas and the Texas Justice System Facts and Issues Newsletters show the influence of the Texas LWV on voter issue studies conducted by the Austin League during the 1970s. An item of particular interest in the Publications series is Your Opportunity in the Austin League of Women Voters. This booklet created by the Austin LWV to promote membership, provides insight into local chapter organization, individual members' roles and duties, and how the organization conducted business. Austin League newsletters dating from 1940s to 1970s have been moved to Periodicals.


The collection is arranged into four series:
I. Organizational Records
II. Observer Corps Records
III. Voter Issue Studies and Related Materials
IV. Publications


Restrictions on Access

Open to all users.

Restrictions on Use

The Austin History Center (AHC) is the owner of the physical materials in the AHC collections and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the AHC before any publication use. The AHC does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.

Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.
Ames, Jesse Daniel, 1883-1972
Cunningham, Minnie Fisher, 1882-1964
McCallum, Jane, 1877-1957
Austin City Council.
Austin Independent School District.
Austin Planning Commission.
League of Women Voters Austin Area.
Joint Legislative Council.
League of Women Voters.
Texas Equal Suffrage Association.
Texas Federation of Women's Clubs.
Travis County Commissioners.
Austin (Tex.)
Criminal Justice System--Texas
Government--Texas--Travis County
Juvenile Justice System--Texas
Local Government--Texas--Austin
Municipal Government--Texas--Austin
Property Tax--Texas
Public Welfare--Texas--Austin
Women in Politics--Texas--Austin
Document Types:
Annual Reports

Related Material

Archives and Manuscripts Collection

  • AR.E.004 McCallum (Jane Y.) Papers

Austin Files

  • AF-Biography, Ames, Lulu Daniel, 1915- (Ames, Jesse Daniel)
  • AF-Biography, Cunningham, Minnie Fisher
  • AF-Women-Societies and Clubs W4800
  • AF-Women-Suffrage W4900
  • AF-Voters and Voting-League of Women Voters V3500(2)

General Collection

  • A 322.440924 M124M A Texas Suffragist: Diaries and Writings of Jane Y. McCallum
  • A 324.623 AUH63 Jane McCallum and the Suffrage Movement, Austin History Center [an online exhibit]
  • A 324.6230922 NI Minnie Fisher Cunningham and Jane Y. McCallum: Leaders of Texas Women for Suffrage and Beyond
  • A 976.4 M124M Diary of Jane Y. McCallum


  • League of Women Voters of Texas: Convention Comments
  • League of Women Voters of the Austin Area: The Austin Voter
  • Texas Voter Newsletters, 1944-1972

Separated Material

Transferred to Periodicals

  • What's Going on in the League, President's Newsletter, Bulletin, Texas Voter, 1944-1978.
  • The Voter, 1960-2010.
  • Voters Guide, 1951-2008.

Transferred to General Collection

  • Capitol Cooking (A 641.59764 LE)
  • Citizens Guide to Government in Austin and Travis County, 1978, 1983 (A 352.076431 LE)


  • Bilingual Education, U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare pamphlet
  • Court Administration Seminar, Modern Management Practices, Austin conference program, June 2-5, 1976
  • Bylaws of the League of Women Voters of the United States, LWV, 1976
  • Campaigning for Fair School Finance, Techniques that Work, LWV, 1978
  • Catalog for Leaders, LWV, Spring 1975, Spring 1977
  • Catalog, Members and the Public, LWV, Spring 1974
  • The China Puzzle, an Introductory Sketch, LWV, 1967
  • China, Russia, and the U.S. A., Changing Relations in a Changing World, by Edward Snow, 1962
  • Chinese History, by Chen Chih-ping and Chen Shih-fu, 1963
  • Committee Guide, Urban Crisis: Making Decisions on Fiscal Policy, LWV of U.S., 1978
  • Committee Guide, Focusing on Cities/Urban Crisis, LWV of the U.S., 1977
  • Community Guide: Caring About Cities, LWV Education Fund, 1977
  • Community Guide, Monitoring Your CDBG Program, LWV Education Fund, 1977
  • Court Administration Seminar, Case Flow and System Management, Austin conference program, July 28-31, 1976
  • Court Administration Seminar, People in the Judicial Process, Austin conference program, Oct 6-9, 1976
  • Current Focus, Cities in Crisis: The Impact of Federal Aid, LWV Education Fund, 1977
  • Current Focus, Growth and Water: Can We Maintain the Pressure?, LWV Education Fund, 1977
  • Current Focus, Security Through Arms Control?, LWV Education Fund, 1978
  • Current Focus, "To Promote the General Welfare" . . . Unfinished Agenda, LWV Education Fund, 1977
  • Documents: Background on National League Program, 1974-76, LWV, 1974
  • Energy Dilemmas, LWV Education Fund, 1977
  • Excerpts from the Final Report of the Joint Committee on Prison Reform, 63rd Legislation, Formosa, China, and the United Nations, by Lung-Chu Chen and Harold D. Lasswell, 1967
  • Facts and Issues, Financing Part I, LWV of the U.S., 1975
  • Facts and Issues, Urban Options: A Fiscal Accent, LWV Education Fund, 1978
  • Impact on Issues 1976-78, A Leader's Guide to National Program, LWV
  • In League, Guidelines for League Boards, LWV of U.S., 1975
  • LWV of the U.S., Memorandum, "Working Together with the Girls Scouts of America," April 4, 1966
  • LWV-Texas, "President's Mailing," seven typewritten memoranda, 1978-1979
  • National Council on Crime and Delinquency in Texas, undated
  • National Voter, LWV, Spring 1976, Spring 1977
  • Off-Board Members of National LWV Committees, LWV memoranda, Nov. 1976
  • Presidents of State Leagues, LWV, July 1976
  • Report of State League Pledges to National Budget, 1976-77, LWV of U.S., Oct. 31, 1976, Dec. 31, 1976
  • State Board Report, LWV of Texas, 1978
  • Study and Action, 1972-1974 National Program, LWV
  • Taiwan and American Policy, the Dilemma in U.S.-China Relations, by Jerome Alan Cohen et al, LWV, 1971
  • Urban Brief 1, Sources on Cities, LWV of the U.S., 1977
  • Urban Brief 2, Who's in Charge?, LWV of the U.S., 1977
  • Urban Brief 6, The City in American Literature, LWV of the U.S., 1978
  • All duplicate material

Administrative Information

Custodial History

Material in this collection was received in multiple donations made by the Austin League of Women Voters from 1980-2013. Detailed donation information may be found in the donor file DO/1980/022.

Preferred Citation

Austin Area League of Women Voters Records (AR.1994.093). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Austin, Texas.

Acquisition Information

Donor #: DO/1980/022

Donation Date: 1980, 1994, 1998, 2017

Processing Information

This collection has been combined with similar material from AR.R.003, League of Women Voters Papers. Finding aid created by Colleen Hobbs and Katherine Isham in November, 2013. Encoding by Susan Rittereiser December, 2013. Updated by Kelly Hanus, 2018.

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. Organizational Records, 1919-2013, undated

Box Folder
1 1 Austin League of Women Voters (LWV) Histories, 1969, 1994
Annual Meetings, 1947-2010
Box Folder
1 2 Schedules and reports, 1947-1975
Box Folder
14 8-12 Workbooks, 1969-2010
Board Meetings, 1972-2013
Box Folder
11 1-18 Minutes, 1972-1990
Box Folder
12 1-9 Minutes, 1991-1999
Box Folder
13 1-7 Minutes, 2000-2006
Box Folder
14 1-7 Minutes, 2007-2013
Box Folder
1 3 Calendar, 1976-1977
4 Early Public Relations Materials, undated
5 Energy Symposium, 1978
6-7 League Information Packet, 1975-1977
8 Letter Sent by Jane Y. McCallum to Jessie Daniel Ames, 1930
9 Letters Received by Jane Y. McCallum, 1930-1935
10 Local Programming, 1977-1978
11 LWV Pamphlets, 1924, 1928
Membership, 1921-2010
Box Folder
15 1 Membership Chair Guidelines, undated
2 Handbooks, 1987-2008
Box Folder
1 12-13 Directories, 1921-1988
Box Folder
15 3-4 Directories, 1990-2010
Box Folder
2 1 Questionnaires for County Officials, 1922, undated
2 Questionnaire for Congressional Official, 1976
Oversized Volumes Scrapbooks (3 volumes), 1942-1948
Scrapbook (Book of Remembrances), 1970
Box Folder
15 5-10 Testimonies, 1965-2003
Box Folder
2 3 Texas LWV Constitution, 1919, 1921
4 Texas LWV Program Materials, 1976

II. Observer Corps Records, 1968-1981, undated

Box Folder
2 5 Observer Corps, Correspondence, 1978-1979
6-9 Observer Corps, Notes, 1972-1978
10 Observer Corps, Other Leagues, 1968-1977
11-12 Austin City Council, Observer Corps Reports, 1976-1981, undated
Box Folder
3 1-6 Austin City Council, Observer Corps Reports, 1976-1981, undated
Box Folder
4 1 Austin Historical Landmark Commission, Observer Corps Reports , 1978-1979
2-5 Austin Independent School District, Observer Corps Reports, 1970-1978
6-7 Austin Planning Commission, Observer Corps Reports, 1977
Box Folder
5 1 Austin Planning Commission, Observer Corps Reports, 1978-1979
2 Austin Planning Commission, Zoning, Observer Corps Reports, 1977
3 Capital Area Planning Council, Observer Corps Reports, 1978
4-6 Travis County Commissioners, Observer Corps Reports, 1976-1978

III. Voter Issue Studies and Related Materials, 1951-2009, undated

Box Folder
5 7-8 Austin City Council Clippings, 1974-1975
Box Folder
6 1-2 Austin Independent School District Emergency School Aid Act Materials, 1975-1979
3 Austin Independent School District Federal Funds and Programs Materials, 1977-1979
4 Austin Independent School District Indochinese Program Report, 1978
5 Austin Independent School District School Board Clippings, 1974-1975
Box Folder
7 1 Austin Police Community Relations Materials, 1974-1975
2 City of Austin Finance Study Materials, 1978-1980
3-4 City of Austin Finance Study, LWV Report and Materials, 1979-1980, undated
5 Texas Air Control Board State Implementation Plan Materials, 1978
6 Texas Constitutional Revision Materials, 1979, undated
7-8 Texas Criminal Justice Study Materials, 1974-1976, undated
Box Folder
8 1-3 Texas Juvenile and Criminal Justice System Studies and Materials, 1976-1977
4-6 Texas Property Tax Study and Research Materials, 1976-1982
Box Folder
9 1-2 Texas Property Tax Study Research Materials, 1979-1980
3 Travis County Commissioners Clippings, 1974-1975
4 Utilities in Texas Study Materials, 1970, undated
5 General LWV Study Materials, 1964-1975
Location ArchivesCollection
Outer Vault Color Negatives Drawer Slides of Homes in East Austin, 1970-1979
Working/Project Files, 1951-2009
Box Folder
15 11 Advanced Waste Water Treatment (Study), 1985
12 Affordable Housing Austin (Study), 2001
13 Annexation Growth in Austin (Study), 1981
14 Austin Air Quality (Study), 1988
15 Austin Bond Proposal (Study), 1982
16 Austin City Budget (Testimony), 2003
17 Austin City Council Election (Testimony), 1978
18 Austin City Revenues (Study), 1980
19 Austin Community College (Study), 1985
20 Austin Electric Deregulation (Study), 1998
21 Austin Form of Government (Testimony), 1966
22 Austin Health Eligibility (Study), 1977
Box Folder
16 1 Austin Health Low Income (Study), 1972
2 Austin Independent School District Bond Election (Testimony), 2004
3 Austin Independent School District Curriculum (Study), 1983
4 Austin Master Plan (Consensus), 1973
5 Austin Public Library (Study), 1972
6 Austin Public Library Update (Study), 1990
7 Austin School Desegregation (Study), 1970-1976
8 Austin Zoning (Study), 1968
9 Bid Process Minority Employers (Testimony), 1987
10 Cable TV in Austin (Study), 1981
11 Candidate Fair, 1970
12 Candidate Forums, 1964-1987
13 Case for Voting Machines (Study/Testimony), 1966-1974
14 City Charter Revision (Testimony), 1951-1990
15 Commuter Rail District (Panel Discussion), 2005
16 Criminal Justice/Capital Punishment (Consensus), 2002
17 Day Care Facilities Austin (Study), 1974
18 Domestic Violence (Panel Discussion), 1984
19 Edwards Aquifer Rules (Testimony), 1996
20 Equal Employment Austin (Testimony), 1975
21 Energy Conservation Austin (Consensus), 1973
22 Environmental Protection Agency Hearing Air Pollution (Testimony), 1973
23 Federal Funds & Programs Austin Independent School District (Study), 1979
24 Financing State Government (Study/Testimony), 1976
25 Future of Drinking Water Supply (Study), 1998
26 Get Out the Vote Grant (Voters Service), 2002
27 Health Care for Indigent (Study), 1987
28 Health of the Political Process (Consensus), 1997
Box Folder
17 1 High School Restructuring (Study), 2005
2 Highland Lakes Water Quality (Study), 1971
3 Hospital District Travis County (Study), 2004
4 Hosuing for Limited Income Families (Study), 1970
5 Judicial Selection Process (Consensus), 2002
6 Local Election Process (Study), 1987
7 Local Program Recap (Study), 1946-1969
8-9 Local Program Recap (Study), 1977-1989
10 Local Public Education (Study), 2005
11 Mandated Testing in Public Schools (Consensus), 2007
12 Metropolitan Transit Authority (Consensus), 1981
13 Municipal Utility Districts in Austin (Study), 1984
14 National Security (Consensus), 1984
15 Nursing Home Registration (Voters Service), 1983
16 Parks & Open Spaces (Consensus), 1974
17 Permanent Voter Registration (Consensus), 1963
18 Planning & Growth in Austin (Study), 1986
19 Property Tax in Travis County (Study), 1982
20 Redistricting (Correspondence), 1976
21 Revenue Problems Austin (Study), 1988
22 Safari into the 80's Rally (Candidate Forums), 1980
23 Safeguarding the Vote (Study), 2004
24 Save Our Springs (Testimony), 1991-1994
25 Subdivision Refund Contracts (Study), 1970
26 Survey of Austin Independent School District (Study), 1972
27 Thinking Globally Acting Locally (Study), 1992
28-29 Transportation in Austin (Study), 1972, 1996
30 Travis County (Study), 1986
31 Travis County Human Services (Study), 1975
Box Folder
18 1 Travis County Welfare Commodity (Study/Testimony), 1971
2 Urban Renewal (Correspondence), 1960-1963
3 Urbanization -- Water Resources (Study), 1984
4 Voters Key/Directory of Elected Officials (Publications), 1970-2009
5 Voters Service Reports, 1956-1975
6 Water Resources (Correspondence), 1964
7 We Support (Brochures), 1996-2007

IV. Publications, 1952-1979, undated

Box Folder
10 1 Advocacy Papers, 1978
2 Cable Television in Austin, 1979
3 Current Focus, 1976-1979
4 Forty Years of a Great Idea, League of Women Voters in the United States, 1959
5 Good Government Begins at Home, 1952
6 Guide for Local and State Board Planning, 1977
7 Guide for a Local League Treasurer, 1967
8 Local League Handbook, 1962
9 A Portrait of the League of Women Voters, 1962
10 Study and Action in Texas: 1971-1973 State Program, 1971
11 Taking Action: Guidelines for Local Leagues, 1976
12 Texas Justice System Facts and Issues Newsletters, 1975-1978
13 Update on Community Issues, 1976
14 Who Me? Serve on a Jury!, undated
15 Your Opportunity in the Austin League of Women Voters, 1962-1963