Muncie League Moves Forward
At the beginning of 1917, the United States had not yet entered the Great War and the Russian Revolution of 1917 was just around the corner. Indiana had just celebrated the 100th anniversary of admission to the Union as the 19th state and the 19th Amendment was still three years away.
On January 16, 1917, the day Maston and McKinley introduced Senate Bill No. 77, the Muncie League had an executive board meeting. The minutes from that meeting reference a motion to form a committee to circulate a petition to the Indiana Legislature, “praying for the enactment of a law providing for partial suffrage.” Members of the Muncie community, Mrs. Eva Louis Merz and Mrs. Mary K. Munshower were to be appointed chairman and vice chairman of this committee.
On January 22, 1917, during their meeting at the Universalist Church, the Muncie League appointed a committee to draft a petition addressed to Governor James P. Goodrich, Lieutenant Governor, Edgar D. Bush, and members of both the House and Senate, asking for their support of the bill for partial women’s suffrage. When Senate Bill no. 77 was signed by the Governor on February 28, 1917, the Muncie branch of the Woman’s Franchise League of Indiana went to work.
At the next meeting, the Woman’s Franchise League of Indiana, Muncie League began their work. The League adopted a resolution “that the Woman’s Franchise League of Muncie shall remain a non-partisan organization and shall not permit any resolution to be passed in any of its meetings endorsing any candidate or any of his policies.”
Educating women on their rights and registering them to vote was a focus of the Woman’s Franchise League during this time of change in Indiana. The Muncie League provided pamphlets and other educational material to assist women with understanding their new rights. Since women could vote in the upcoming election for delegates to the Indiana State Constitutional Convention in September of 1917, pamphlets such as Women of Indiana Vote for Women’s Freedom were distributed. Additionally, the Muncie League began canvasing the smaller townships to register women to vote. In the meeting minutes of the executive board on June 13, 1917, it was decided to elect a member from the League to oversee the different townships within Muncie and Delaware County. The League ordered 10,000 registration cards in the hopes of encouraging the women of Muncie to exercise their new rights.
After Senate Bill no. 77 was signed into law by Governor Goodrich, it was mentioned to the Muncie League that a request for information and instruction regarding their new voting rights had come from the “colored women of the city.” The League decided to help organize what would become the Booker T. Washington League. In April, another woman’s franchise league, The Southside League, was established. The chairwoman, Mrs. Charles Delaney along with other members attended a meeting of the Muncie League and reported that the Southside League had 44 members. By June the Booker T. Washington League had organized and were holding their own meetings. Between 1917 and 1920, seven different woman’s franchise leagues existed in Delaware County.