Margaret Fuller, American Transcendentalist and women's rights advocate born
Women's Equality: Changing Attitudes and Beliefs
That motley mingling of abolitionists, socialists, and infidels, of all sexes and colors, called the Woman's Rights Convention, assembled in this city, to-day…
— From The New York Herald, Friday, October 25, 1850, p. 1 on the EDSITEment resource U.S. Women's History Workshop
Every time our society benefits from its recognition of the equality of women, thank the Foremothers of the Women's Movement, pioneers such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Stanton understood the difficulties women faced, clarifying the extent and vehemence of the opposition to equality in her Declaration of Sentiments. She detailed, in a series of grievances, the "absolute tyranny" society held over women. The "injuries and usurpations" she described were enabled, in part, by widely accepted stereotypes and beliefs about gender reflected in and perpetuated by everything from children's stories to magazine humor. Analyzing archival materials contemporaneous with the birth of the Women's Rights Movement, your students can begin to appreciate the deeply entrenched opposition the early crusaders had to overcome.
Note: This lesson may be taught either as a stand-alone lesson or as a companion to any or all of the complementary EDSITEment lessons Who Were the Foremothers of Women's Equality?, Voting Rights for Women: Pro- and Anti-Suffrage, and Women's Suffrage: Why the West First?.
After completing the lessons in this unit, students will be able to
List some of the attitudes and beliefs obstructing the progress of the Women's Rights Movement in its formative years
Cite and analyze examples of primary sources revealing obstructive attitudes and beliefs
Take a stand (and provide support for it) as to whether or not such attitudes persist today
What attitudes and beliefs obstructed the progress of the Women's Rights Movement in its formative years?
What primary sources can help reveal these attitudes and beliefs?
Women's Suffrage: Why the West First?
Women's suffrage succeeded in the West for reasons as diverse as the people and places of the West itself.
The 19th Amendment, granting suffrage to women, was ratified by Congress in 1920. It was over fifty years previously, however, that Wyoming had entered the Union as the first state to grant some women full voting rights. The next eight states to grant full suffrage to women were also Western states: Colorado (1893); Utah and Idaho (1896); Washington (1910); California (1911); and Oregon, Kansas, and Arizona (1912). Why was the West first?
Focused on efforts in support of women's suffrage in Western states, this lesson can be used either as a stand-alone unit or as a more specialized sequel to the EDSITEment lesson, Voting Rights for Women: Pro- and Anti-Suffrage, which covers the suffrage movement in general. The latter lesson also contains activities and resources for learning how the movement to gain the vote for women fits into the larger struggle for women's rights in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Compare the dynamics of the West with other territories and states in the U.S. to determine why suffrage rights were granted in several Western states.
Analyze the role played by women in advancing suffrage rights and evaluate the short and long term impact of these events on the national suffrage movement.
Evaluate the role geography, culture, and history played and continues to play when it comes to advancing rights for groups in the United States.
Why were the Western states the first in the nation to grant full voting rights to some women?