Students analyze a photo from a women’s suffrage march and read an excerpt of a speech by suffragist, Carrie Chapman Catt, who was from Iowa. They learn the impact of women on the passage of the 19th Amendment. Using Catt’s poem, they connect themselves to the ongoing struggle to extend rights.
This lesson is part of "Great States: Iowa | Unit 7: Twentieth Century Iowa." In this unit, students will examine how major events of the 20th century impacted the people of Iowa.
BS.SS.5.9: Analyze the strategies that a variety of demographic groups have used to ensure their rights.
CG.SS.5.12: Describe how laws, rules and processes have changed over time in order to restrict, protect, or extend rights.
H.SS.5.26: Analyze Iowa's role in civil rights history.
- Photo: Votes For Women | Women's Suffrage | U.S. History
- Carrie Chapman Catt Speech Excerpt
- An interactive whiteboard, projector, or another type of screen to show materials to the class
- Plain white paper
- Pens, pencils, markers, or colored pencils
Introduce Carrie Chapman Catt (January 9, 1859–March 9, 1947). Raised in Iowa, Catt was an educated woman and the first woman to run military drills for women, give an oration before a debating society, and act as a School Superintendent. She served as president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), and founded the League of Women Voters. Her work proved to be essential in the fight for women’s suffrage. Explain that at the time, women did not yet have the right to vote, and women organized to take to the streets to demand their right to vote. Catt’s work, along with that of other suffragists, led to the passing of the 19th Amendment in 1920.
Show the photo, Votes For Women | Women's Suffrage | U.S. History. It’s a photo of members of the NAWSA at a 1913 women’s suffrage march, a major event that took place in New York City. Ask students to explain why the women might have thought it was important to indicate that they have 1,000 branches in 38 (out of 48) states [to show that it is a widespread, national movement].
Point out that the women were wearing white, the symbolic color of the women’s suffrage movement. Discuss why large marches are often a strategy of a group trying to air a grievance or demand a right.
Project the Carrie Chapman Catt speech excerpt for students.
Lead a discussion on what the quote means, and what it meant in the context of the time (the early 1900s). Have students analyze Catt’s words on a personal level and in a national context.
Catt lived from 1859–1947. Ask students to discuss the social and political changes she would have witnessed over the course of her life.
Ask students to think of a “wrong that needs resistance,” and/or a “right that needs assistance,” that is important to them. Conclude the lesson with students writing a short poem describing a cause to which they may choose to “give themselves” in the future. Alternatively, students could draw a picture representing the fight for women’s suffrage, or design a poster for a suffrage march.