Seventy years! It’s longer than most of us have been married,
and longer than many in the League have been alive. Here’s a little taste of our local League history, taken from research compiled by Sandy Kazeta for a skit in the mid-90s.
In November, 1941, the Phoenix League was established when 21 women met at the Westward Ho Hotel in downtown Phoenix. Officers were elected; a constitution and bylaws were adopted. Dues were established at $2.00 annually. The first president was Mrs. Frank Brophy. Almost immediately the group participated in a state meeting with League members from Tucson and Douglas which led to the formation of the State League in 1942.
A study of city and county government was begun. However, just a month later there was the attack on Pearl Harbor and suddenly everyone’s focus changed. An important item for study became Foreign Policy. When the war concluded, the years 1945-50 were ones of great growth. Dues were raised to $3.00. Units studied single registration–meaning you only had to register to vote once and that would register you for state, local and school board elections. (Previously, it was not unusual to have to register for each of the three separately.) Our League worked very hard in 1947 to get high school and elementary school district elections on the same day. Those were the days when it seemed as if we had an election for something every Tuesday.
In 1948 we sent our first delegate to the national convention. That same year we had our famous BALLOT BATTALION who worked tirelessly to register voters. That decade closed with a candidate fair which was filmed and shown to 40 groups all over Phoenix. We felt technologically up to date.
As the fabulous fifties began, Mrs. E.E. Mott became President, and the Phoenix League reached the 100-member mark. We received all kinds of accolades for our work on the election for a city charter, giving Phoenix a strong city manager form of government. Mayor Udall commended the League for door-to-door election campaigning and for its publication which instructed city council members on how to hire a city manager.
Our newsletter became a regular feature and the budget allowed us to get our first office. Voter registration was a major priority and was done with deputy registrars. We pushed and pushed to get one registrar from each of the two major parties in each precinct. Sixty League members became registrars and had their homes designated as official registration places.
We’ve always loved a good skit! In 1951, four of our members went to Whiteriver on the Apache Reservation to do some voter registration. The Skit: “A Citizen Votes” produced lots of laughter. Can you believe that our Native American tribes didn’t get the vote till then? The next year’s skit was even funnier. As part of a study on inflation and the diminishing food basket we had a skit called “The Market Basket Queens”, complete with costumes and tips for the consumer. It was in great demand.