Women Earn the Right to Vote

Contributor: Meghan Vestal. Lesson ID: 12757

You've probably seen crowds of people voting in elections. A century ago, those crowds would be a lot smaller because fewer people were allowed to vote. Learn what women went through for that right!


Social Studies, United States

learning style
personality style
Lion, Beaver
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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  • Is voting in public elections important?
  • You may be too young to vote now, but what if you were old enough and were told you couldn't?
  • Would you feel like a real person?

Votes for Women

Image courtesy of LSE Library at flickr

Today (2017), you must meet the following requirements to vote in political elections in the United States:

  • be at least 18 years of age
  • be a U.S. citizen
  • be a resident of a U.S. state
  • be legally registered to vote

U.S. voting requirements have not always been this simple. Throughout the centuries, people were only allowed to vote if they were wealthy or were a certain race or gender. At one point in history, people even had to take a test to prove they were smart enough to vote. As time has passed, voting requirements have changed to allow all U.S. citizens over the age of 18 to vote.

  • Why do you think you must be at least 18 to vote?

Discuss your opinion with your teacher or parent.

One of the last groups to earn the right to vote was women. "Suffrage" means the right to vote in political elections, so the women’s suffrage movement refers to a movement that advocated for women to be allowed to vote. The women’s suffrage movement took place across the United States between the mid-1800s and the early 1900s. Women who were a part of the movement were called "suffragettes."

In 1848, the women’s suffrage movement began using the phrase, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men and women are created equal,” as their motto.

  • Do you recognize where this phrase was taken from?

Discuss what you know about this phrase with your teacher or parent. Then, click the hot spot on the image below to learn the answer:

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The motto signified that women were equal to men and, therefore, they should be given the same rights as men.

In the 1890s, the suffragettes stopped using the motto and tried a new approach. Instead of saying they were equal to men, they began saying they were created differently from men. Since they were created different, they said they were able to offer different perspectives and opinions on political issues.

Around this same time, suffragettes began holding large marches and protests through major cities. The marches and protests were intended to catch the attention of men and help them to see why women should be involved in politics. While some men supported the movement, not all men were receptive to the idea of women voting. Women who protested were often arrested, and some men would even hit the women while they protested.

Watch the slideshow images below to see pictures of the women’s suffrage movement. As you examine the pictures, discuss anything that stands out to you with your teacher or parent:

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Political leaders finally began to recognize women after World War I. During the war, women had played an important role by working as nurses and helping to raise money for the troops. Their efforts showed men across the United States they were important and capable of helping serve their country in their own unique ways.

In 1920, the 19th Amendment was finally ratified, or passed, and added to the U.S. Constitution. The 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote in political elections. It had taken nearly 100 years, but the hard work of the suffragettes had earned all women the right to vote.

To continue learning more about the women’s suffrage movement, read the following article. As you read the article, make a list of all the things women did to get the 19th Amendment passed. Read Women’s Suffrage (Stephen Byrne, History for Kids) to learn more about the women’s suffrage movement.

Show your list to your teacher or parent.

  • What action taken by the suffragettes do you find most impressive?

The right to vote was one of just many steps taken to give women the same rights as men. Today, women can work the same jobs as men, go to college, and serve in the military. At one time, women were not able to do any of these things.

  • How do you think the work of suffragettes helped to not only earn women to right to vote, but to also do some of the other things listed in this paragraph?
  • If you are a female, how has the work of the suffragettes impacted your life and future?

Discuss your responses with your teacher or parent.

Then, move on to the Got It? section to review what you have learned by taking a quiz.

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