Who Were the Foremothers of Women's Equality?

The website America's Library, a link from the EDSITEment resource American Memory, asserts that "just as George Washington is considered a 'Forefather' of American democracy, [Elizabeth Cady] Stanton and [Susan B.] Anthony are 'Foremothers' of the struggle for women's equality." Yet, while Stanton and Anthony are arguably the best known suffragists, most young people know little about them or the women who fought alongside them, "activists whose names and accomplishments should become as familiar to Americans as those of Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr." (see A History of the Movement, a resource from the National Women's History Project), a link on the EDSITEment-reviewed website Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1775–2000). Who were the activists whose names deserve to be remembered alongside such iconic figures as Jefferson, Lincoln, and King?

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 Women's Equality: Changing Attitudes and Beliefs, Voting Rights for Women: Pro- and Anti-Suffrage, and Women's Suffrage: Why the West First?.

Guiding Questions

What sources are useful for uncovering the names of the women who contributed to the early Women's Rights Movement in the U.S.?


Which contributions and individuals were particularly significant?