- Students will examine the causes, struggles, and successes of various forms of civic engagement by women, including efforts toward economic, social, and political equality.
- Students will understand the extensive array of reform movements in which women took the lead as part of the broader reform effort of the Progressive Era.
- Students will compare and contrast the goals of the social reformers fighting for protective legislation with the goals of reformers who wanted an Equal Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution.
- Handout A: Background Essay: Women in the Gilded Age
- Handout B: Women in the Gilded Age Graphic Organizer
- Handout C: Timeline of Women’s Suffrage
- Handout D: Images of Women’s Suffrage
- Handout E: Protective Legislation for Women
- Handout F: Comparing and Contrasting Women’s and African-American Suffrage Movements
- “Separate spheres”
- Settlement houses
- Protective legislation
- Constitutional amendment
- Social Darwinism
Activity I » 20 minutes
- Have students read Handout A: Background Essay: Women in the Gilded Age and complete Handout B: Women in the Gilded Age Graphic Organizer to compare and contrast the different reform movements in which women in the Gilded Age took the lead.
- De-brief the activity and lead a discussion of the following questions:
How did the nature of moral reform efforts encourage women to leave the home to engage in civic life?
To what extent and in what ways were the reformers successful in changing society or the lives of women?
To what extent and in what ways did the movements strengthen civil society? How did they contribute to the growth of government power?
Activity II » 20 minutes
- Students can work individually or in groups to complete Handout C: Timeline of Women’s Suffrage. They should use Handout A and conduct other research as directed by the teacher.
- Prior to the discussion, the teacher might appoint one or more recorders to use appropriate technology in making a timeline for display in the classroom reflecting student participation.
Activity III » 15-20 minutes
Assign students to work in groups of three to complete the assignment in Handout D: Images of Women’s Suffrage. Students should analyze the pictures and make connections with the information presented in Handout A.
Activity IV » 20 minutes
- Assign the students to work individually or in groups to read the primary sources on protective legislation and the Equal Rights Amendment. Have the students complete the brief writing assignment comparing and contrasting the primary sources in order to spotlight the main issues of the women’s rights movement.
- The de-brief should include an analysis of the two approaches of state-level protective legislation and an amendment to the U.S. Constitution for equality and how the two contradicted each other. Have the students briefly debate which approach they prefer.
Conduct a discussion with the class on the following questions to wrap up the study of women’s engagement in civic life during the Gilded Age.
- What were the causes of the transformation for women from the private, domestic sphere to the public sphere as workers, reformers, and voters?
- To what extent and in what ways did women’s leadership in reform movements contribute to their success?
- Assign your students to write a brief essay or create some form of graphic organizer comparing and contrasting the path to African-American men’s suffrage and that of women.
- The student products should include analysis of both suffrage movements and should examine the methods, challenges, and successes of both groups.
The Rise of Reform Politics
The Story of Women’s Suffrage in America (Part 2) | BRI’s Homework Help History Series
In part two of this two-part Homework Help narrative, learn about the challenges that the women’s suffrage movement overcame in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. What contributions did monumental suffragists like Alice Paul, Lucy Stone, and Carrie Chapman Catt make on the journey to winning the vote for women?
Alice Paul and the Struggle for Women’s Suffrage
How did Alice Paul fight for equality of the sexes?
Votes for Women
The emergence of a true women’s movement for equality and suffrage (the right to vote) developed after the religious revivals of the Second Great Awakening and the rise of several antebellum (before the Civil War) reform movements in the 1830s and 1840s. This lesson explores the birth of the Women’s Rights movement, as well as its goals and the historical context of the movement.
Nothing Complicated About Ordinary Equality: Alice Paul and Self-Sacrifice
In this lesson, students will learn about the self-sacrifice of Alice Paul and ways in which they can sacrifice their own comfort for what they believe.
Votes for Women
Votes for Women: The Story of the Nineteenth Amendment guides students through the story of the women's suffrage movement in the United States. Through rich narratives, primary source activities, and classroom-ready lessons, the curriculum explores the people, places, and events of the suffragist movement, inspiring students through the perseverance and courage of those in the movement and asking them to consider how one is able to carry out long-term change in order to better align institutions with the principles of liberty, justice, and equality. This framing provides a structure that allows students to explore how the suffragists mapped out a pathway for change to achieve the vote through the Nineteenth Amendment. The resource also contains capstone projects so that students can use the lessons of this curriculum to make a positive impact in their own communities.