The Civic League, a non-partisan society of 75 influential women was organized in August 1909, at the urging of Dr. Caroline Spencer. The League sought to investigate municipal conditions and public affairs and to understand economic and social conditions with the purpose of inspiring local citizens to improve the city. The members called themselves “Municipal Housekeepers” who in the early years investigated playgrounds, organized fly-eradication campaigns, sponsored gardening contests, and pressured for streets and alleyways to be cleared of weeds and garbage.
Over time the women became increasingly political, securing a desk at City Council Chambers, the League became an effective shadow government, persuading the city to hire school nurses, to provide free dental care in the schools, to provide public bathrooms, and to hire the first policewoman. The League pressured for a city auditorium, a city planning commission was established and a city planner consulted, street cars were heated in winter and playgrounds were supervised in summer and health and environmental evils became matters of public discussion as never before. Although securing many reforms that continue to contribute to Colorado Springs’s present-day high quality of life, the League stirred up ill will. Major sources of tension were the League’s support for the right of labor to unionize as well as for woman’s suffrage, issues which contributed to internal dissention and the League dissolved after five years.
The first city flag in the state of Colorado was presented to Colorado Springs by Dr. Caroline Spencer on behalf of the Civic League on July 26, 1912. Designed by Nicholas Van den Ahrend and constructed by Caroline Sturgis, it is symbolic of the beauty of the city. The official resolution adopting the flag contained this description: “The White Field is intended to represent the cleanliness and health of the City; the Blue Border our Blue Skies; the Shield carries the Sun, of which we are justly proud; the Mountains stand for Pikes Peak and on it are pictured the gold ingots of our mining industries; the Green Band about the Shield represents the Park System surrounding the city.”
Generously Submitted by Chris Nicholl, Historian