Carrie Chapman Catt and Anna Howard Shaw (1917)

“To get the word ‘male’ in effect out of the Constitution cost the women of the country 52 years of pauseless campaign… During that time they were forced to conduct 56 campaigns of referenda to male voters; 480 campaigns to get Legislatures to submit suffrage amendments to voters; 47 campaigns to get State constitutional conventions to write woman suffrage into state constitutions; 277 campaigns to get State party conventions to include woman suffrage planks in party platforms, and 19 campaigns with 19 successive Congresses.”

~ Carrie Chapman Catt

A Timeline

May 1914 Anne Dallas Dudley leads the first Parade for Women’s Voting in the South and is the first woman in Tennessee to make an open-air speech. She leads a march of 2,000 women from downtown Nashville to Centennial Park.
November 1914 Anne Dallas Dudley brings the national convention of the National American Women’s Association to Nashville. The heated debate ends with a resolution to support the Susan B. Anthony Amendment by “every means within its power.”
1915 Anne Dallas Dudley is elected to head the Tennessee Equal Suffrage Association and helps to introduce and lobby for a suffrage amendment to the state constitution. Over 80 local suffrage chapters are organized in the state.
May 1915 The Tennessee General Assembly takes the first step in the amendment process by adopting a joint resolution favoring it. The resolution would have to pass again in 1917 and then be approved by a majority of voters before it could become law.
1916 May Day Marches for women’s suffrage in Nashville are held annually from 1914 to 1920 from the Capitol to Centennial Park.
1916 Woodrow Wilson promises that the Democratic Party Platform will endorse women’s suffrage.
1917 Anne Dallas Dudley is elected vice president of the National American Women’s Association. She works closely with President Carrie Chapman Catt in planning the master strategies of the campaign that finally succeeded in 1920.
1917 The Tennessee House of Representative passes a limited suffrage bill that would have granted women the right to vote in local elections and for U.S. president. The Senate votes it down.
1918 The U.S. House of Representatives passes with a 2/3 vote to enfranchise women, but loses by two votes in the Senate.
1919 For a third time, the U.S. House of Representatives votes to enfranchise women. The Senate finally passes the Nineteenth Amendment, and suffragists begin their ratification campaign.
April 5, 1919 Tennessee General Assembly passes a limited suffrage act to give women the right to vote in presidential and municipal elections.
April 22, 1919 Mary Cordelia Beasley Hudson of Camden, TN is the first woman in Tennessee to vote.
June 4, 1919 The 66th U.S. Congress passes the 19th amendment. It then needs ¾ of the state legislatures to ratify in order to become law.
February 14, 1920 The League of Women Voters formed.
August 9, 1920 Tennessee Governor A.H. Roberts convenes a special legislative session.
August 18, 1920 The Tennessee legislature becomes the 36th and final state to ratify the 19th amendment. The 19th Amendment becomes law.

Revitalized in 1948

After the 19th Amendment passed in 1920, the League of Women Voters in Nashville lost momentum and remained dormant until the remarkable Molly Todd came to town in the 1940’s and resuscitated the organization in 1948. Under her leadership, the LWVN mobilized support for a host of public policy issues ranging from birth control to the formation of a family service agency to racial integration. The League published the city’s first brochure on voter education, worked to abolish the poll tax, and engaged in efforts to consolidate city and county government services.

Re-energized by a new generation of women leaders, the organization continues to address the pressing public policy issues raised in each generation.

Read about the Molly Todd Award
Molly Todd

The Nashville League Receives the E. Bronson Ingram Award

April 20, 2017 – The LWVN is is proud to receive the E. Bronson Ingram Award by PENCIL for their support of Nashville’s public schools. PENCIL links community resources to Metro Nashville Public Schools. 

Past and Current LWVN Presidents

LWVN presidents can serve for three sequential two-year terms. The current president is Barbara Gay (2018-20).

Barbara Gay
Barbara GayLWVN President (2018-2020)

1948-1950 | Molly Todd

1950-1952 | Martha Wigginton

1952-1954 | Jean Schwartz

1954-1956 | Coletta Tesch

1956-1957 | Georgia Benjamin

1957-1958 | Mary Hobbs

1958 | Helen Dingley

1958-1962 | Sebby Billig

1962-1965 | Barbara Kuhn

1965-1966 | Betsy Zukoski

1966 | Geralyn Clewe

1966-1968 | Sally Levine

1968-1970 | Miriam Cowden

1970-1971 | Gale Markus

1971-1974 | Mary Wade

1974-1975 | Barbara Housewright

1975-1978 | Jane Entrekin

1978 | Margaret Manning

1978-1979 | Silvine Hudson

1979-1982 | Roz McGee

1982-1983 | Juli Mosley

1983-1984 | Barbara Mann

1984-1986 | Gayle Ray

1986-1988 | Susan Gutow

1988-1990 | Carol Bucy

1990-1992 | Peggy Maguire

1992-1994 | Mary Frances Lyle

1994-1996 | Suzie Tolmie

1996-1998 | Brenda Wynn

1998-2000 | Margie Parsley

2000-2002 | Marian Ott

2002-2003 | Luvenia Butler

2003-2005 | Deana Claiborne & Karen Edwards

2005-2006 | Karen Edwards

2006-2007 | Karen Edwards & Margie Parsley

2007-2008 | Margie Parsley

2008-2010 | Lucy Chism

2010-2012 | Jo Singer

2012-2018 | Debby Gould