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Suffrage parade, New York City, May 6, 1912

[Detail] Youngest parader in New York City suffragist parade

Lesson Procedure

Lesson One: - Analyzing Primary Sources
After discussing the definition and value of primary sources in analyzing an historical time period, students, divided into groups by time period, analyze sources using the Primary Source Analysis Tool to determine a woman's role in society.

Lesson Two: - Changing Methods and Reforms of the Suffrage Movement from 1840-1920
Having determined the perceptions of women's roles in each of the three time periods, students analyze primary sources that outline the methods used and reforms demanded by the woman's suffrage movement in each time period. Students then put the information into the Analysis of the Woman's Suffrage Movement. Using the timeline, students also determine what historical events affected the progress of the movement.

Lesson Three: - Timeline and Reflection on Woman's Suffrage
Using the suffrage timeline, students will determine the major events and participants during each period of the suffrage movement and search the American Memory collections for sources to compile a Primary Sources Timeline. The culminating activity is a reflection paper by each individual summarizing the progression of the movement.

Lesson One

Analyzing Primary Sources


  1. Read definitions of primary and secondary sources in Using Primary Sources and discuss with students as necessary examples of primary sources that you produce during a routine day.
  2. As a group, use the Primary Source Analysis Tool and examine the primary source documents of your time period. Your teacher might have additional questions to guide your analysis.

1840-1869 (Group 1)

1870-1899 (Group 2)

1900-1920 (Group 3)

Within groups, students may discuss the conditions experienced by women and how women were viewed during your time period. Share their findings with the class using the format of the Primary Source Analysis Tool.


Collect primary sources from women who lived during the 1960s. Show them to the class and explain what they reveal about the time period.

Lesson Two

Changing Methods and Reforms of the Woman's Suffrage Movement, 1840-1920


Each group will be assigned one of these three time periods:




As a group, use the Analysis of the Woman's Suffrage Movement Chart to analyze the primary source documents in your time period.

Look for additional keywords.

Use the One Hundred Years toward Suffrage timeline to search for more documents in Votes for Women, 1848-1921.

As a group, list the Reforms Demanded and the Arguments and Strategies Used, using the provided web links.

As a group, list the Societal Diversions and Increased Opportunities experienced by women during the time period, using the One Hundred Years toward Suffrage timeline

Determine the reasons for the successes and failures of the suffrage movement of your time period.

Use the Analysis of the Woman's Suffrage Movement to share each group's conclusions with the class and articulate a clear understanding of the successes and failures of the suffrage movement of the time.

Lesson Three

Timeline and Reflection on Woman's Suffrage

View One Hundred Years of Suffrage: An Overview

Students may choose keywords, such as names of people or events, and search the following collections:

Students may select five sources (letters, plays, songs, broadsides, etc.) from their time period and place in chronological order in a timeline. Using the selected sources, students may prepare a creative presentation that illustrates the time period.

Students may create a class timeline and present each group's creative interpretation of the woman's suffrage movement during assigned time periods.

Using information gathered from lessons one, two, and three, each individual will write a reflection paper detailing the societal views, the reforms demanded, the various strategies used over time to achieve national suffrage, and theorizing why the movement was successful in 1920.