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Lesson Plan Suffragists and Their Tactics

Women have been agents of change throughout American History.

Students will work primarily with two Library of Congress collections, Votes for Women - The Struggle for Women's Suffrage and Votes for Women: 1848-1921, to understand how the suffragists of the early 20th century changed the requirements for voting in America.

Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • analyze and interpret primary sources for content, audience, purpose, and point of view;
  • cexplain the different arguments and tactics used by the suffragists to bring about change; and
  • evaluate the efficacy of these arguments and tactics.

Time Required

Six classes

Lesson Preparation

Materials

Resources

Lesson Procedure

Activity One

(1 class period): Go to Votes for Women - The Struggle for Women's Suffrage and browse to find a photo of one of the following suffragists:

  • Carrie Chapman Catt
  • Maude Wood Park
  • Anna Howard Shaw
  • Alice Stone Blackwell
  • Alice Paul

Print the photo in a large format.

Work with a partner to complete a Primary Source Analysis Tool for each of your photos. Before the students begin, select questions from the teacher's guide Analyzing Photographs and Prints to focus and prompt analysis. Then answer these additional questions.

  1. What hypotheses can you make about this woman's personality based on her photograph? Why do you think that?
  2. How do you think this woman would try to bring about change in her society? Why do you think that?
  3. If you were undecided in 1915 about the question of women's suffrage, do you think you could be persuaded by this woman to support suffrage? Why or why not?

Activity Two

Return to Votes for Women - The Struggle for Women's Suffrage. Explore the links to suffrage parades, picketing, and cartoons. Choose and print two images (in a large size) which you think might represent one or more of the characteristics associated with the suffragist you selected in Activity One.

Work with a partner to complete a Primary Source Analysis Tool for each of your selections. Before the students begin, select questions from the teacher's guide Analyzing Photographs and Prints to focus and prompt analysis. Then answer these additional questions:

  1. Why did you match your woman with these particular images?
  2. What methods or strategies for securing suffrage are reflected in these images?
  3. How effective do you think these strategies would be in securing suffrage for women?
  4. If you were undecided in 1915 about the question of women's suffrage, would you find these pickets, parades, or cartoons persuasive? Why or why not?

Activity Three

Individually, go to Printed Ephemera: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera and search to find the two broadsides, "Votes for Women" and "Woman Suffrage Co-Equal with Man Suffrage." Students may print these out for easier study.

Read the text of both and answer the following questions.

(Teacher option: some classes might benefit from either a small group or whole class discussion of the broadsides before writing answers to the questions. Another alternative, depending on the level of the students and time available, would be to have students choose either question 1 or 2, and to have all students answer question 3. Answers may be presented to the class, as time permits.)

  1. In your opinion, what are the two most significant arguments offered on each broadside in favor of women's suffrage? Explain why you chose each argument.
  2. Which arguments are common to both broadsides? Which arguments are offered by only one of the sources?
  3. If you were undecided in 1915 about the question of women's suffrage, which arguments would you find persuasive? Why?

Activity Four

Explore the Women's Suffrage primary source set and select an item making an argument about women's suffrage.

Individually, complete a Primary Source Analysis Tool for your document and then answer the following questions in a discussion paper, using specific examples from the articles and photos you have studied. Be sure to explain how each example supports your analysis.

(Teacher option: students might benefit from discussing the article with other students who have analyzed it. Also, if time permits, students might peer review written responses before submitting their papers for teacher evaluation.)

  1. Have you seen a photo either of the author or someone mentioned in the article? If so, how does the photo exemplify what the author wrote?
  2. Have you seen a photo or illustration of any of the events referred to in the article? If so, does the written record "match" the visual record?
  3. What arguments does the writer offer in favor of suffrage?
  4. What tactics for bringing about change (i.e. getting the vote for women) were discussed in the article?
  5. If you were undecided in 1915 about the question of women's suffrage, would you find these arguments and tactics persuasive? Why or why not?
  6. Does the source reflect any disagreement among the suffragists about their arguments or their tactics? If so, how do they disagree?

Extension

Lesson Evaluation

  • Students will study and analyze graphic and print primary source materials.
  • Groups will take part in active discussions about the readings and the role of women in the suffragist movement.
  • Students will design and create broadsides which depict the challenges of the suffragist movement.

Credits

Claire McCaffey Griffin

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