League of Women Voters of Iowa
Document 1: April 14, 1943 letter from Mrs. C.R. (Bernardine) Smith to National Offices. Folder: Correspondence State/National Personal, 1939-1947, Box 19, League of Women Voters of Iowa papers, Iowa Womens Archives, University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.
On April 14, 1943, Bernardine Smith, President of the League of Women Voters of Iowa, wrote the following letter to the National League Offices regarding a broadside published by the League opposing the proposed Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). This document substantiates the League's alignment with labor women in opposing the ERA and shows why Senator Gillette (the amendment's sponsor) supported the ERA. One especially noteworthy element of this letter is that Smith made reference to an article in the Cedar Rapids Gazette, which suggests there was some press coverage of the debate over the amendment.
Dear National Offices:
I believe you asked for a report on how the Equal Rights
broadsides were received by our congressmen and others to whom they
were sent. Within the leagues
there seemed to be general agreement that this broadside was not up
to the usual standard and that it ignored too completely the good old
ancient and sufficient reason that passage of the amendment would do
away with the protections established for women in industry; that the
questions raised on the broadside would not be given serious consideration
anyway. With this you may not
agree but I quote it to you in honest fashion that you may hear all
sides of the evaluation.
The Cedar Rapids Gazette Washington correspondent is a native of the same county as the one in which I now live. He had quoted Rep. Cunningham as being in favor of the amendment, so I sent him a broadside with suitable comment. The enclosed clipping shows that it received attention and suitable publicity in a paper which serves a very large section of Iowa.
These broadsides went also to some of our party leaders and state officials in Iowa, both men and women. They were not sent to all legislators in Iowa for reasons which our board considered sufficient. Some of these replies would indicate that the broadside had been read too hastily and that the opinion was that the League was favoring the amendment! These were also sent to some of our best guest distributors over the state, but I have no reply to any of these as of yet.
I trust these reports are sufficiently informative. I believe our Rep. Cunningham is a key man in the Iowa delegation to be reached with further information.