Woman Suffrage: Fight for your Right!

Woman Suffrage Lesson 3


Students will be able to:
  • Understand the African American woman's perspective in the woman suffrage movement.
  • Analyze a political cartoon regarding African American Woman Suffrage in contrast with a primary photographic source.
  • Identify an author/creator of a primary source and assess the effect of this on validity and perspective. 
  • Analyze the woman suffrage movement was a state’s rights issue, as well as a social issue.


Procedure (Approx. 60 minutes):

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The beginning of class will have students observe a photograph vs. a cartoon regarding the African American woman suffrage. What do you see in this picture? What do you think it was like for the African American women trying to win the right to vote? Imagine if you were an African American woman in the early 1900’s fighting for the right to vote. What additional struggles would you encounter? The students should keep in mind that certain groups were less benefitted by the Woman Suffrage Movement.

Another Anti-Suffrage Petition?

Present an Anti-Suffrage Letter from a woman. Allow for up to 15 minutes to read the document aloud with the students. Pause and allow students to analyze it briefly after every paragraph. Students should answer the following questions: When was this letter created? Is this letter professional? Is this letter for or against Woman Suffrage? What background do you think this writer had? Reveal to students that it is written by a female leader of the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage. Go into the difference between states’ rights and constitutional rights.

This Letter was authored by Mrs. Wadsworth, President of the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage (NAOWS) out of Washington D.C. Typed by Miss Minnie Bronson, General Secretary for NAOWS in December, 1917. During this time, the United States was participating in World War I and women started to obtain industrial jobs in place of their husbands at war. NAOWS was against woman suffrage due to the violation of states’ rights and morality. The claim that woman suffrage is intruding on states’ rights is that the constitution emphasizes individual states’ rights in order to keep the National Government in check. If the constitution is amended, states must follow the national laws. NAOWS also mentions morality in the sense that it is not proper or natural for a woman to go above and beyond her station in life. These women use “conservation of woman-hood” as an argument that women voting could destroy the fabric from which the United States was built on: Men in charge, women at home.

Computer Lab:

Students will need to go to the computer lab to begin Suffrage debate research and creation of “picket signs”. Teacher should observe and provide guidance when needed.  Students should have at least a couple of primary resources chosen to back their argument and design for signs should be done.