Resources for Teaching Women's Suffrage

Primary Sources and Lesson Plans from Library of Congress

19th Amendment Web Guide
This introduction to primary sources is well-organized and easy to navigate. It includes: newspapers, photographs, links to video of Theodore Roosevelt talking to suffragists, Mary Church Terrell papers, Carrie Chapman Catt papers, Elizabeth Cady Stanton papers, sheet music of suffragists, and more.

Education Materials
Check out the Education Materials link for a teacher guide, clickable primary sources, images, scrapbooks, maps, and a primary source analysis sheet (useful tool).

"Their Rights and Nothing Less" Lesson Plan
Geared towards secondary (7-12) students, this lesson plan includes three lessons: introduction to analyzing primary sources; historical context of women's suffrage with analysis of suffrage arguments in primary sources; and creating a primary source timeline with suffrage emphasis.

Photos, Prints, and Drawings
This is a large collection of primary source photos, prints, and drawings related to suffrage--great to use with the primary source analysis sheet.

National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection
Check out these 1,935 primary sources, mainly from the collection of Carrie Chapman Catt, President of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA).

By the People Suffrage: Women Fight for the Vote
This collection includes transcribed papers of Susan B. Anthony, Mary Church Terrell and others. There are letters, speeches, daybooks, and more.


Essential Questions

Use these essential questions to guide your lessons in the classroom, or your conversations with students on a field trip to the park.
  • What does activism look like?
  • What are the enduring symbols of equity and social justice that activists rely on?
  • How do we examine and solve issues of equity and social justice through the court system?
  • What does equity and social justice look like in 18th century America for women?

Material Culture of Suffrage

Want to interest your students in women's suffrage? Begin by introducing them to the "stuff" that reveals the stories.
  • This Google Arts & Culture slide show on Women's Suffrage Memorabilia provides a visual, succinct overview of the material culture of the movement.
  • Professor Kenneth Florey's web site about the memorabilia of suffrage covers a broad range of artifacts.
  • The New York Heritage Digital Collections web site on Pop Culture Suffrage begins with an intro paragraph that captures how entwined the material culture was with the movement: "One woman would stand on a soap box while the other would pass out woman suffrage novelties such as fans, playing cards, radiator caps, games, and other items, printed with 'votes for women' or a similar slogan."

Multimedia Resources

  • Women's Suffrage: Crash Course #31. This 13 minute video by John Green, best selling author of The Fault In Our Stars, places the women's suffrage movement within the context of the Progressive Era.
  • The 19th Amendment: How Women Won the Vote. The National Constitution Center's interactive content is divided into three categores: The Awakening, The Debates, and Drafting Table.

Activity Ideas

Try out these crowd-sourced activity ideas in your classroom. Have a great idea that you'd like to share on this web page? Email us with the details.

Elementary School (grades 3-5)
Standalone or Wax Museum
  • This can be used as the introduction to the story of suffrage, or it can be a follow-up activity at the conclusion of the unit. Some adults (if it's an intro) or some students (follow-up) stand still. When students stand in front of that person, the person comes to life, taking on the role of a suffragist and presenting their story in just a few sentences. This is especially fun with the use of a few props, like sashes and pins.
Middle and High School (grades 6 - 12)
Create a hash tag
  • After teaching about a suffragist, ask your students, "What values does she represent?" Have your students work in groups to create a hash tag that best captures the suffragist's message/methods/values. Then, ask your students to choose one of the values they connect with and create a hash tag for themselves that reflects their message.
Create a suffrage equation
  • Provide students with primary source documents and photos. Direct students to complete an equation using two of the sources. For example, a image of suffragists driving a car decked out with 'Votes for Women' banners + a copy of the Suffragist newspaper = ways to get your message out to the people. See how many different tools of activism your class can discover through this exercise.

Last updated: September 17, 2020

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