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48th in 58


In June of 1919, Congress received enough votes to pass the 19th Amendment, and with it, the right for women to vote. This amendment was ratified in 1920, and that year, the League of Women Voters was borne. This strictly nonpartisan group has sought over the years to improve systems of government and public policies through education and advocacy. It is a grassroots organization, working at national, state and local levels, and today, the League is alive in all 50 of the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Hong Kong.

However, the league was slow to blossom in North Dakota. Even though women had become prominent in government affairs and positions of authority, it wasn't until this date in 1958 that the women of North Dakota met in Mandan and opened the first League of Women Voters

state convention with the motto, “The 48th in ’58,” a reference to being the last in the union to form a statewide chapter … 48th, since Alaska and Hawaii had yet to achieve statehood.

Governor John E. Davis welcomed the delegates and visitors. Mrs. Leslie Rogne, organizational chairman for the league, presented the first slate of officers for state board. The women conducted other business throughout that day, and the next, adopting by-laws, approving a budget and selecting a program for their first year.

They also put a notice in the Bismarck Tribune to announce a meeting to form a new local Bismarck chapter to go along with chapters already existing in Minot, Williston, Grand Forks, Fargo and Mandan.

Though our state’s history may be rife with evidence of the progressive movement, it took just a little bit longer for North Dakota to join the rest of the United States in adding this group, which touts itself as “the original grassroots citizen network, directed by the consensus of its members nationwide.”

Dakota Datebook written by Sarah Walker




Bismarck Tribune, Wednesday, June 11, 1958, p.3

Bismarck Tribune, Thursday, June 12, 1958, p.1