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The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Collection Connections > Votes for Women

[Detail] Yellow ribbon from 1911 Suffrage Parade

1) Argument and Persuasion

Students can use the collection to practice persuasive writing on topics related to some of the documents. Ideas for topics might include:

  • Voting Is a Family Value
  • Equality Between Women and Men Has Its Limits
  • Women Are Entitled to the Same Rights as MenĂ³No More, No Less

In order to prepare their arguments, students might search the collection for topics such as socialism and politics. For example, students might review opposing opinions in the documents: "Socialism, Feminism, and Suffragism, the Terrible Triplets. . .," [c1915], and "From Pinafores to Politics," [1923].

2) Literary Forms

Students can study a variety of literary forms through this collection. Have students consider why a particular literary form was used to present a topic, and then comment on the effectiveness of using that form. Search the collection for examples of literary forms such as:

Autobiography: "From Pinafores to Politics," Daisy Hurst Harriman [1923]
"Life's Story," Mary Ryerson Butin [1930]

Poetry: "Are Women People? A Book of Rhymes for Suffrage Times," Alice Duer Miller [c1915]

Drama: "Lucy Stone, a Chronicle Play," Maud Wood Park [1938]

Essay: "A Reasonable Reform," Ralph Waldo Emerson [1881]

Letters: "For Rent--One Pedestal," Marjorie Schuler [1917]

3) Performance

Using the list of literary forms above, students can print out the poetry and/or drama selection, then select portions to perform as readers' theater. Emerson's essay, in its entirety, can also serve as a dramatic reading.

4) Creative Writing

Students can search on heroism to find items in the collection that highlight themes such as heroism and personal strength. Then, using their search results and personal experiences, students can write their own essays, poems, or short dramas. For example, in "The Ballot and the Bullet," stories are told of brave women who disguised themselves as men in order to fight in the Civil War. One account says,

The Brooklyn, N. Y. "Times" of October, 1863, soon after the battle of Chattanooga, gave an account of a young woman who joined the army of the Cumberland, and endured many hardships and showed great courage and heroism . During one of the severest engagements she was terribly wounded in the left side by a mine ball, and was borne from the bloody field to the surgeon's tent, where her sex was discovered. The brave girl was told that her wound was mortal, and she was urged and finally consented to reveal her true name and the home of her parents who had mourned for her as one dead.

From "The Ballot and the Bullet," compiled by Carrie Chapman Catt [1897]

5) Use of Irony

Students might study the writers in the collection to examine how irony was used to make a point. Encourage students to use documents in the collection as models for their own writing. For example, irony appears in "Campaign Material (For Both Sides)" which includes a list entitled "Why We Oppose Votes for Men:"

  1. Because man's place is the armory.
  2. Because no really manly man wants to settle any question otherwise than by fighting about it.
  3. Because if men should adopt peaceable methods women will no longer look up to them.
  4. Because men will lose their charm if they step out of their natural sphere and interest themselves in other matters than feats of arms, uniforms and drums.
  5. Because men are too emotional to vote. Their conduct at baseball games and political conventions shows this, while their innate tendency to appeal to force renders them peculiarly unfit for the task of government.

From, "Are Women People? A Book of Rhymes for Suffrage Times," Alice Duer Miller [c1915]