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History Committee 2 Year Report

Ann Patton & Tana Porter | Published on 4/9/2020

                                                Centennial Celebrations:

  Report of the History Committee, 2018-2020

The League of Women Voters of Orange County, Florida

We’ve had an exciting two years in the League of Women Voters of Orange County, Florida, celebrating our precious right to vote and our awesome heritage. 

We’ve commemorated the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote AND the 100th birthday of the national League, the 80th birthday of our own League, and a number of other milestones. We’ve learned about our foremothers; stretched into new collaborations; enjoyed a panorama of events; and published articles, op-eds, and our own her-story book. We’ve convened or partnered in some 30 events with more than 1,700 participants. And we’re not done yet.

Here’s a quick recap of some of the History Committee’s recent adventures. 

  • Holiday party, 2016. Former LWVOC president Linda Chapin (1976-78) challenged the LWVOC to document its rich history. 

  • Summer 2017. Membership Chair Pat Grierson asked Joan Erwin and Ann Patton to document the history. They agreed to field a team to prepare a skeleton LWVOC timeline of events and create a system to archive historical documents.  They set to work.

  • Spring 2018. LWVOC Board created a History Committee, with Joan as its chair, to document and celebrate LWVOC history. Having identified many milestones and anniversaries coming up, including the 2020 Centennial of women’s right to vote, the History Committee declared a two-year celebration of our precious right to vote. Meanwhile, Joan and the League’s Shawn Bartelt began an oral history project, videotaping League former presidents and icons.

  • April 2018. The Timeline had grown to 38 pages. Ann’s husband broke his ankle. While she was homebound as caregiver, Ann decided to turn the Timeline into a book – with generous help from historian/editor Joy Dickinson, graphic artist Jill Shargaa, and other dedicated volunteers.

  • September 2018. The Board agreed to support the project with a budget to publish a full color 8x10 book in both wrapped hardcover and softcover worthy of the extraordinary story of the Orange County League.

  • December 2018. All good things start with a parade, and a grand one it was, gearing up for a two-year celebration with Leaguers dressed in blue-and-white regalia, oversized Derby white hats, and “Votes for All” sashes. 

  • January 2019. Starting with a tribute to black suffragists by former LWVOC president Carol Davis, the History Committee began a two-year series of educational sessions leading up to the 2020 Centennial of women’s suffrage.

  • March 31, 2019. With a joyous celebration at the home of Sue Foreman, we launched our very own history book, Warriors for Democracy: The Story of the League of Women Voters of Orange County, Florida.

  • May 15, 2019. The League held a press conference in the lobby of the Angebilt Hotel to commemorate the day the League was organized 80 years before. The event was followed by a celebratory luncheon. 

  • May 2019. The History Committee kicked off a months-long educational series about the untold stories of suffragists, led by Orlando Historian Patty Farless.

  • October 2019. We celebrated the LWVOC’s 80th birthday year by planting a live oak tree, named The Voter, in a county park, while Girl Scouts sang “America the Beautiful.” 

  • November 2019. LWVOC webmaster Lisa Adkins expanded the Timeline into a delightful, animated, on-line resource and created a video about the history project.

  • December 2019. By the close of 2019, we had logged more than 20 events with some 1,000 participants. 

  • January 2020. We rolled into the Roarin’ 20s – the Centennial year of 2020 – with memorable stories to tell and much to celebrate. To kick off the year, we told our story to 400 participants at the UCF LIFE presentation, followed quickly by “The Heart of the Matter Is Voting,” a multimedia presentation at the Rio Pinar Country Club in partnership with the AAUW and International Black Women’s Congress. And we launched a series of inspirational sessions, stretching into the summer, in conjunction with the Peace and Justice Institute at Valencia College, interrupted by the Covid-19 novel coronavirus outbreak that shut down the nation and Orange County. 

Other History Committee productions have included a civic historical-trivia contest, op-eds and many articles and presentations. 

The History Committee also assembled archives of materials collected for the book, placed them in a permanent collection at the Orange County Regional History Center, and proposed policies and procedures to guide the LWVOC toward preserving its important history in future years.  

As the days rolled forward toward the August 2020 Centennial, the History Committee, led by co-chairs Joan Erwin and Joy Dickinson, continued to work as a catalyst to identify, document, and celebrate our priceless heritage, seeking to harness our history to instruct and inspire us over coming years. 

This report was produced by Ann Patton and Tana Porter for the LWVOC History Committee, April 2, 2020.