Ruth Annette Mills and Dot Gayton discuss issues at a home unit meeting
The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization founded in 1920 to watch over the activities of government and to affect public policy by reaching out to inform and advocate to citizens. Having no centralized structure, the League considers itself a grassroots organization, working at the national, state and local levels. There is a branch in each of the fifty states in the U.S. The local Southern Nevada branch found its origins in 1964.
On April 29, 1964, two members of the Nevada League of Women Voters visited Las Vegas to help create a local League chapter. Interested women of the Las Vegas Valley attended a meeting at the home of Mrs. John Wright, President of the Faculty Wives Club of Nevada Southern University. The two Nevada League members, Mrs. Earl Nicholson and Mrs. Richard Miller, explained the purposes, policies, and programs of the League of Women Voters. Mrs. Nicholson recommended that the interested women form a Temporary Committee. On May 1, 1964, Mrs. Geoffrey Stormson was appointed the Temporary Chairman and fifteen other women joined her in forming the new League chapter.
The first meeting took place on May 7 and a preliminary discussion was held concerning the by-laws of the Las Vegas Valley chapter. On May 16, 1964, Mrs. Robert Zurbach, a Board member of the League of Women Voters of the United States, held a meeting in Las Vegas. She oriented the new League members. It was decided that the League could not exist as a city League because of the proximity of North Las Vegas and the high population in the surrounding unincorporated areas. The focus of the new League would therefore be valley wide.
The Temporary Committee contacted five hundred women in the Las Vegas Valley and invited them to attend the May 25, 1964 Organization Meeting. Forty-one women attended and twenty-eight paid their $5 dues. Bylaws were created, officers elected, a budget adopted, and the program established at this meeting. The new Provisional League of Women Voters elected a Board of Directors with Mrs. Kathleen Richards as President. By November, 1964 there were seventy-one members listed on the membership roll. Notable Las Vegas women on this earliest membership list included Flora Duncan, Margaret Quinn and Jean Ford.
The League immediately became involved in political organizing and social interaction. In May, 1965, the League of Women Voters of the Las Vegas Valley (LWVLVV) attained formal recognition from the League of Women Voters of the United States. By 1969 there were approximately 200 members of the LWVLVV, and though these numbers have dwindled somewhat, the League remains a vital force in the Las Vegas community.
In its first three decades the LWVLVV concerned itself with social and political issues and played an important political role in Nevada. It held meetings, formed political pressure groups, and funded non-partisan studies of issues such as school integration, open housing, environmental conservation, and education. It was, and continues to be, a forum for non-partisan political research and lobbying.