This lesson will allow advanced middle school or high school students to analyze primary source documents concerning the women’s rights movement in the United States to end suffrage and propose a constitutional amendment for the right to vote. The 1920 Presidential election was the first election in American history where women were allowed the right to vote at the federal level. Many historians consider the votes of millions of women to be a contributing factor in the victory for President Warren G. Harding. Students will analyze primary source documents before the time period of 1920 to interpret social factors in American society that women were pressing politicians to support for suffrage. The greater goal of the activity is for students to be able to compare and contrast the after-effects of promoting women’s suffrage. The classroom activity can be individually based, or students may work in pairs or quads to complete the National Archives and Records Administration Written Document Analysis Worksheet.
Well before the 1920 presidential campaign was officially under way, it became apparent that the 1920 election would be a referendum on the policies of President Woodrow Wilson. Aside from his health woes, Wilson’s second term as president had attracted much criticism including the failure to keep the country out of the Great War, his failure to involve congressional voices in his negotiation of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 and the postwar peace settlement involving his support for the League of Nations. Lesser known, however, is that Wilson was late to jump on the suffrage bandwagon for women further hurting the Democrats chances of retaking the White House. The Republicans saw a chance for millions of new voters to turn out at the polls supporting the Republican ticket of Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge. Suffragettes, such as Corrine Roosevelt Robinson, the younger sister of President Theodore Roosevelt, adamantly promoted support for the Republican candidates. Women would be a deciding factor in the election of 1920 for President Harding and had been advocating for a voice and influence in politics for change beginning in the 1870s. Furthermore, women would play prominent roles in the abolitionist and later civil rights movements and temperance movements for the Republican Party.
- Students will be able to analyze the various primary source writings of suffragettes advocating for women’s’ rights before the creation and passing of the 19th Amendment.
- Students will be able to interpret various women’s’ political movements that existed before the creation and passing of the 19th Amendment.
- Students will be able to describe the clash of liberal versus conservative values during various decades of US Society (1870-1920).
Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Social Studies Standards:
In Social Studies, students in Missouri public schools will acquire a solid foundation which includes knowledge of
- 1. principles
- 1. Principles expressed in the documents shaping constitutional democracy in the United States
- 2. Continuity and change in the history of Missouri, the United States, and the world
- 6. Relationships of the individual and groups to institutions and cultural traditions
- 7. The use of tools of social science inquiry (such as surveys, statistics, maps, and documents)
Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Goals:
- Goal 1.5 - Students will demonstrate within and integrate across all content areas the ability to comprehend and evaluate written, visual and oral presentations and works
- Goal 1.8 - Students will demonstrate within and integrate across all content areas the ability organize data, information and ideas into useful forms (including charts, graphs, outlines) for analysis or presentation
- Goal 2.3 - Students will demonstrate within and integrate across all content areas the ability to exchange information, questions and ideas while recognizing the perspectives of others
- Goal 3.7 - Students will demonstrate within and integrate across all content areas the ability to evaluate the extent to which a strategy addresses the problem
- Goal 4.3 - Students will demonstrate within and integrate across all content areas the ability to analyze the duties and responsibilities of individuals in societies
- Feminist Majority Population. “August 5, 1920: Harding Will Fight for Suffrage with Party Members.” Accessed July 20, 2016. https://feminist.org/blog/index.php/2014/08/05/august-5-1920-harding-will-fight-for-suffrage-with-party-members/.
- Barton, Clara. "While There Is Life There’s Hope." Life, November 15, 1906. Accessed August 28, 2015. http://womenshistory.about.com/library/misc/bl_life1906.htm.
- Barton, Clara. "The Women Who Went to the Fields." Women’s History: Poems by Women. Speech. Washington D.C. for the Potomac Relief Corps, a unit of the National Woman’s Relief Corps. Jone Johnson Lewis, editor. Accessed August 28, 2015. http://womenshistory.about.com/library/etext/poem1/blp_barton_fields.htm.
- Chant, Laura Ormiston. "Duty of God to Man Inquired." Speech. In Neely’s History of Parliament of Religions. Presented at Columbian Exposition. Chicago: Neely’s, 1893. Jone Johnson Lewis, editor. Accessed August 28, 2015. http://womenshistory.about.com/od/unitarianuniversalist/fl/Duty-of-God-to-Man-Inquired.htm.
- Chapman Catt, Carrie. “Woman Suffrage is Inevitable.” Speech. Carrie Chapman Catt Speech Before Congress, 1917, Washington D.C.: 1917. Jone Johnson Lewis, editor. Accessed August 28, 2015. http://womenshistory.about.com/od/cattcarriec/a/cong_1917_speec.htm.
- Ducas, Dorothy. “Women’s Economic Freedom Blamed on Marriage Decline.” New York Evening Post, January 5, 1929. Accessed October 7, 2015. http://americainclass.org/sources/becomingmodern/modernity/text2/colcommentarymodernwoman.pdf.
- Maule, Frances. The Blue Book; Woman Suffrage, History, Arguments and Results, edited by Frances M. Bjorkman and Annie G. Porritt. Rev. ed. New York, National Woman Suffrage Publishing Co., Inc., 1917. Accessed October 7, 2015. http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/nawbib:@field%28NUMBER+@band%28rbnawsa+n4862%29%29
- “The Presidential Election of 1920.” Library of Congress. Accessed July 20, 2016. http://www.memory.loc.gov/ammem/nfhtml/nfexpe.html.
- Robinson, Corinne Roosevelt. “Safeguard America.” Nation’s Forum, 1920. Accessed July 20, 2016. http://www.authentichistory.com/special/nationsforum/NF_18_Safeguard_America-Mrs_Corinne_Roosevelt_Robinson.html.
- Robinson, J. Francis. “The Importance of Women’s Influence in All Religious and Benevolent Societies.” The National Baptist Magazine. November and December, 1899.
Nashville: National Baptist Publishing Board, 1899. Accessed October 7, 2015. http://loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/presentationsandactivities/presentations/timeline/progress/suffrage/influenc.html.
- Posen, Alvah. Them Days is Gone Forever. 1922-1923. National Humanities Center. Accessed October 7, 2015. americainclass.org/sources/becomingmodern/imagecredits.htm.
- “Susan B. Anthony Obituary” The New York Times, March 13, 1906. Jone Johnson Lewis, editor. Accessed August 28, 2015. http://womenshistory.about.com/library/etext/bl_anthony_obit.htm.
- Tone, Andrea. Devices and Desires. New York: Hill and Wang, 2001.
- The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has some great primary source document sheets for students to analyze various sources. The one used for this activity to analyze the women’s primary sources can be found at: National Archives and Records Administration Written Document Analysis Worksheet.
- Students can do this as an individual activity, but preferably, students should be placed in a pair or groups of 3-4 students. Each pair or group of students should have a set of the primary sources.
- Students will use the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Written Document Analysis Worksheet to analyze and use critical thinking skills on various primary source writings of suffragettes advocating for women’s’ rights before the creation and passing of the 19th Amendment.
- The teacher will identify how many National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Written Document Analysis Worksheets that he/she would like each individual student to fill out. If it is a one-day lesson, then 2-3 worksheets should be filled out and if it is a two-day lesson then 4-5 worksheets should be filled out. The goal of the activity is to allow students to analyze as many resources as possible and begin describing the changing nature of social values in various time periods (1870-1920) across America.
- After completion of the activity the teacher should have a discussion with the students as an opening bell-ringer or longer classroom activity the following day on how the influence of women in American politics has helped shape political issues over time.