Women's Suffrage

Contributor: Sarah Lerdal. Lesson ID: 11084

Can you believe that, at one time in U.S. history, women were not allowed to vote in federal elections? Is that fair? Read about this issue and present your opinions about equality using infographics!


United States

learning style
personality style
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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"There never will be complete equality until women themselves help to make laws and elect lawmakers."

This quotation is by the woman pictured below, suffragist Susan B. Anthony:

Susan B Anthony circa 1855

Image engraved by G.E. Perine & Co., NY, via Wikimedia Commons, is in the public domain.

  • What do you believe Susan B. Anthony meant when she said this?
  • Do you think there is complete equality between gender today, as women help to make laws and elect lawmakers?

Susan B. Anthony was both a leading abolitionist and prominent women's rights activist.

She spent her entire life trying to gain enfranchisement for women. In 1872, while living in New York, she and 14 other women cast ballots for president and representatives to Congress. Although she was arrested and fined, she never paid her fine.

Despite many states allowing women to vote in state elections, it remained illegal for women to vote in federal elections until 1920. The fight for the right to vote (suffrage) lasted many years, and it was finally granted with the passage of the 19th amendment. Unfortunately, Susan B. Anthony died before the 19th amendment was passed.

The road to gaining women's right to vote was a long one. Take some time to read through the One Hundred Years toward Suffrage: An Overview (memory.loc.gov).

Suffragists are people who support giving women the right to vote. Throughout the years, suffragists faced many challenges from anti-suffragists, those who oppose giving women the right to vote.

Take a look at the map of women's suffrage laws in various states of the US, which was published September 4, 1920 (below).

  • Why do you think women's suffrage was legal in western states before becoming legal in much of the rest of the country?

Women's Suffrage Laws September 1920

Image by Marjorie Shuler, via Wikimedia Commons, is in the public domain.

Both men and women were suffragists and anti-suffragists.

  1. Make a list of all the reasons you can think of why people would oppose giving women the right to vote, and reasons why both men and women would support it.
  2. You will now make two new lists. Looking at the following primary source documents, identify all the reasons given for why women should have the national vote and why they should not.


'Vote No on Women's Suffrage':Bizarre Reasons For Not Letting Women Vote (The Atlantic)


Votes for Women! The Woman's Reason (Tolerance.org)

Look at your lists and discuss your thoughts with your teacher.

  • What arguments seem plausible?

You can see that some of the arguments were based in the real fear that women were not capable of voting intelligently, and others believed that keeping women out truly was in their best interest. The fight over the suffrage amendment raged on, just as women's roles continued to change after WWI.

Move along to the Got It? section to join the conversation!

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