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Women's Suffrage and World War I


Unit seven: an Industrial Society; Chapter three: the Progressive movement, 1900-1920: efforts to Reform the New Society
These questions and documents can be used in conjunction with the New York State Education Department standard curriculum for grades 7&8 Social Studies: United States and New York State History. This lesson is also helpful for unit eight: The United States as an Independent Nation in an Increasingly Interdependent World.

Main points:
-Introduction to the National Women’s Party
-Identify Wilson’s reasons for the U.S.A. entering WWI
-How is women’s rights presented in today’s New York Times

By the beginning of the 20th century, the efforts of suffragists had begun to bear fruit. Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and Idaho had given women full suffrage rights and in many states women were allowed to vote in municipal and school board elections. A women's suffrage amendment was debated nationally for the first time in 1878, and Stanton, Anthony, and other suffragists used civil disobedience -- attempting to vote -- to gain attention for their cause.

Three suffragists voting in New York City (circa 1917). The original caption read, Calm about it...the women voters showed no ignorance or trepidation, but cast thier ballots in a businesslike way that bespoke study of suffrage.

During the Progressive Era (1890-1920), women played more active roles in the larger economic, cultural, and political transformation of American society. This growth in women's public roles allowed suffragists to be more aggressive in support of their cause as they developed stronger bases of support in the settlement houses, temperance organizations, labor unions, and reform movements that now sprang up across the country. The National American Women's Suffrage Association, led by Carrie Chapman Catt, fought for suffrage using parades, street speakers, petitions, and rallies.

Wonder Women for President Wonder Women 1000 Years in the Future! (1943)

Sixteen states, including New York, had given women the right to vote by 1917, but the U.S. Constitution was not amended to enfranchise women until after World War I. Alice Paul, a founder of the National Woman's Party, led daily marches in front of the White House during the war, using President Woodrow Wilson's rhetoric of democracy and self-government to support the cause. As more and more states endorsed suffrage, so did their representatives in Congress. In 1918 Wilson reluctantly approved a constitutional change, and in 1920 the Nineteenth Amendment made women's suffrage the law of the land.

Headquarters of the National Women's Anti-Suffrage Association, circa 1911.

 

 
 
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