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

[Detail] Yellow ribbon from 1911 Suffrage Parade

1) Chronological Thinking

The collection is useful for tracing chronological development of the woman suffrage movement. Students can find materials about events leading to the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, originally proposed as the Sixteenth Amendment in 1878. Students can relate the collection contents to a timeline of women's rights.

Select Timeline: One Hundred Years Toward Suffrage on the collection home page, for a listing of events in the fight for woman suffrage. These events range from Abigail Adams's letter to her husband in 1776 asking the writers of the Declaration of Independence to "remember the ladies," to 1923, when the Equal Rights Amendment was first proposed. Students can find examples from the collection that illustrate events on the timeline.

2) Historical Comprehension

These documents can help students comprehend content in terms of target audience and purpose for persuasive arguments. Many of the documents are quite long, so it will be a challenge to pull out information. Students will need to make good use of the tables of contents that appear in many of the documents.

For example, students can search for "Women and the Alphabet" [1900], a series of essays on women's educational rights and opportunities. Using the table of contents for "Women and the Alphabet," students can select essays to read, and then identify the purpose and target audience for the persuasive essays.

3) Historical Analysis and Interpretation

This collection provides a clear chronicle of the life of a political cause, that of woman suffrage. The collection offers both pro- and anti-suffrage points of view. For example;

Search on Ralph Waldo Emerson for "A Reasonable Reform" [1881], which contains Emerson's arguments aimed at debunking anti-vote arguments.

4) Historical Research Capabilities

The collection clearly illustrates continuity of themes and issues. Students can use the collection to study a particular subject at 20 to 30 year intervals. Students can then compare and record passages or positions that seem to mark changes in prevailing attitudes.

Students might want to select the Subject Index on the collection home page to find documents that compare attitudes on issues such as temperance, socialism, and family life. Using the Subject Index, students might compare documents found under the subject headings husband and wife; marriage; social reformers United States; and temperanceóCongress. For example;

Search on voting to find Carrie Chapman Catt's introduction to "The Woman Voter's Manual" [1918]. In the introduction, Catt relates benefits such as shorter workdays, minimum wage, and equal guardianship to whether states have woman suffrage.

5) Historical Issue Analysis

For experience in issue analysis, students might reconstruct opposing positions for debates. Suffragists also prepared for debate by reviewing arguments of both pro- and anti-vote activists. For example;

Search on woman suffrage or debate to find the debate handbook section of "Selected Articles on Woman Suffrage" [1912]. Some students can take the position of an affirmative argument in the handbook, such as "Woman suffrage is logical and just." Other students can take the position of a negative argument in the handbook, such as "[Suffrage] is not a natural or inherent right."