All resources in Women's Studies

She Resisted: Strategies of Suffrage

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She Resisted: Strategies of Suffrage is an interactive audio and visual experience where students are able to explore, investigate, and examine the various strategies women use to gain the right to vote. Students will be able to analyze the various techniques, methods, and strategies women used to assist in answering what women would do to get to vote and how far would they go to achieve enfranchisement.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Interactive

Author: PBS Foundation

Enslaved Women's Work · Hidden Voices: Enslaved Women in the Lowcountry and U.S. South · Lowcountry Digital History Initiative

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"Hidden Voices" explores the lives of enslaved women in the South Carolina and Georgia Lowcountry and the wider US South, focusing on the early 1800s through the antebellum era, to emancipation in the 1860s. This exhibit draws on sometimes rare written testimonies and images both by and about enslaved women to highlight their often-overlooked everyday histories and perspectives. It explores varieties in women’s forced labor, whether working for enslavers or their families. It examines women’s community lives and life cycles. The specific violence women experienced is also covered here, as well as their resistance and cultural traditions in both urban and rural settings. It concludes by addressing changes and continuities in women’s lives in the Civil War through emancipation’s aftermath. This exhibit explores enslaved women’s culture and labor in the Lowcountry and beyond, marking both continuities among all enslaved women and distinctive experiences that emerged from their lives in this particular region of the United States. It also considers the ways in which women experienced slavery differently from men because of their gender. From the plantation to urban spaces, bonded women’s labor, family relationships, violence, resistance, and culture were distinctive. Understanding these women’s roles and experiences provides a more complete picture of American slavery, and it illuminates the specific labor and cultural contributions of Lowcountry women during and after slavery.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Learning Task

Authors: Assisted by Sian David. Sian David studied as an undergraduate student in the Department of History at the University of Reading., Emily West;professor of History at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom., Monticello Historic Site Catherine Stiers, Special Collections at the College of Charleston, Tim Lockley, University of Warwick Ashley Hollinshead

Women & the American Story

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Women & the American Story (WAMS) is the flagship education initiative of the New York Historical Society’s Center for Women’s History. This free curriculum project provides teachers and students, as well as curious individuals, with information about the myriad and often critical roles women played in shaping United States history. The primary sources, life stories, essays, and learning activities included in each of the ten units were designed for middle school students but also to be easily scalable for elementary and high school classrooms. Colonial women were hard at work affecting the colonies in many ways, from enslaved women bringing agricultural knowledge that made colonies flourish to housewives inventing new ways to perform basic tasks. Women took part in the armed resistance to European invasion and challenged the gender norms they were forced to live under. The power of women was well recognized by English colonial governments, who made laws to govern their reproduction, tried them for heresy and witchcraft, and severely punished their crimes, even when the women themselves were not at fault. The very first published poet of the English colonies was a woman. Even though the odds were against them, the women of the early English colonies were important to the development of the New World. Women and the American Story provides lessons and activities for students to explore the experiences of colonial women and gain insight into how women of the colonial era contributed to the development of colonial America.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Lesson, Lesson Plan

Author: New Tork Historical Society

Women & the American Story

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The events of the American Revolution took place just when political cartoons became very popular in England. People gathered every day at print shops all over London to learn the news and see the latest cartoons mocking the events of the day. Politicians quickly learned the power of a good cartoon. There is even evidence that some English politicians hired artists to mock their enemies and improve their own standing. Students will be able to examine and analyze various political cartoons on the empowerment of colonial women and how through political cartoons, their actions were displayed and perceived by individuals of the period. Students will be able to use historical thinking skills to understand how images play a vital role in spreading information and sentiments.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Homework/Assignment, Lesson Plan

Author: Lee Boomer

Love In Abundance: A Guide To Women's Music

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Women's music is a genre for women, by women, and about women. Women's music formed and evolved from the second wave of the feminist movement, the Civil Rights Movement, and the peace movements of the 1960s and 1970s.The movement was started by lesbian performers such as Cris Williamson, Meg Christian, and Margie Adam, African-American musicians including Linda Tillery, Mary Watkins, and Gwen Avery, and activists such as Bernice Johnson Reagon and her group Sweet Honey in the Rock, and Peace activist Holly Near. Women's music also refers to the wider industry of women's music that goes beyond the performing artists to include studio musicians, producers, sound engineers, technicians, cover artists, distributors, promoters, and festival organizers who are also women. Students will be able to investigate various songs, interpret their lyrics, and examine the perspectives behind the creation of the song.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Learning Task, Reading, Reference Material

Author: Crys Matthews

Click! The Ongoing Feminist Revolution

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Click! In the 1970s that word signaled the moment when a woman awakened to the powerful ideas of contemporary feminism. Today “click” usually refers to a computer keystroke that connects women (and men) to powerful ideas on the Internet. Click! aims to bridge the gap between those two clicks by offering an exhibit that highlights the achievements of women from the 1940s to the present. This exhibit explores the power and complexity of gender consciousness in modern American life. Students will be able to explore, research, and analyze various topics such as women in politics, the Civil Rights Movement, the Feminist Movement, Body and Health, and Workplace and Family. Educators will have the ability to retrieve lesson plans on various topics such as free lesson plans to give teachers content materials and activities that will allow them to integrate the history of the modern women’s movement into their curriculum and help students engage with important historical questions about the struggles that have made the United States more equal and democratic. Each lesson plan focuses on a historical topic that engages with the concerns of students: politics and social movements; body and health; and workplace and family. These topics are investigated through the histories of individual women, their organizations, and their struggles for greater rights and social justice. Their stories are situated within larger histories to help students connect the modern women’s movement to other changes in post-World War Two America.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Learning Task, Lesson Plan

Authors: 1935-1950 (in 2016). Eric Schlosser, A Factious People: Politics and Society in Colonial New York and Under the Cope of Heaven: Religion, Amherst; co-founder and oral history coordinator, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market. Michael Scott Van Wagenen, and Politics in Colonial America. Eliza McFeely, and the Illusion of Safety; Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal; and Reefer Madness: Sex, assistant professor of history, associate professor of history, Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, Contemplating Edith Stein. Marilyn S. Blackwell, Drought and Dreams Gone Dry: A Traveling Exhibit and Public Program for Libraries about the Dust Bowl”; author, Drugs, “Dust, Elaine Abelson, essayist and poet; author, Founding Director, Frontier Feminist: Clarina Howard Nichols and the Politics of Motherhood. Patricia Bonomi, Georgia Southern University; author, graduate program coordinator, history teacher, How the García Girls Lost Their Accents, independent scholar and historian; co-author, International Resource for Impact & Storytelling. Charles Romney, In the Time of the Butterflies and Once Upon A Quinceañera: Coming of Age in the USA. Joyce Berkman, M.A., M.Litt., Moorestown Friends School; author, New York University; author, novelist, Oxford University; author, Ph.D., professor emerita, Remembering the Forgotten War: The Enduring Legacies of the U.S.-Mexican War and The Texas Republic and the Mormon Kingdom of God., Rights Delayed: The American State and the Defeat of Progressive Unions, Society, the Damascus Accident, The Healing Imagination of Olive Schreiner: Beyond South African Colonialism; editor, The New School for Social Research; author, University of Arkansas; co-curator, University of Massachusetts, Valley Women’s History Collaborative; author, When Ladies Go A-Thieving: Middleclass Shoplifters in Victorian Department Stores. Julia Alvarez, Zuni and the American Imagination. Cara Mertes

RetroReport In The Classroom: Gender Studies

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Retro Report is a non-profit journalism organization. In your classroom, we can help foster engagement and critical thinking skills with over 250 short videos that connect history to today. Our videos are perfect for many classroom subjects, particularly U.S. History, Civics and Government, Media Literacy, World History, Psychology, and Environmental Studies. All of our videos, lessons, and student activities are completely FREE. Video topics include The Birth of the Environmental Movement: DDT and Rachel Carson; From Women's Suffrage to the ERA; Suffrage for Black Women, Second Wave, Feminism, the Equal Rights Amendment, and Phyllis Schlafly.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Lesson Plan


Docs Teach: Women's Rights

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When our Constitution was written, it was silent on women. Excluded from most of the rights and privileges of citizenship, women operated in limited and rigid roles while enslaved women were excluded from all. Yet women have actively participated as citizens—organizing, marching, petitioning—since the founding of our country. Sometimes quietly, and sometimes with a roar, women’s roles have been redefined. Use this page to find primary sources and document-based teaching activities related to women's rights and changing roles in American history. Many of the documents, photographs, and other sources are also featured in the exhibits Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote, at the National Archives Museum in Washington, DC, and One-Half of the People: Advancing Equality for Women, traveling the Country.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Homework/Assignment, Lesson

Author: National Archives Education Team

Women's Roles In Antebellum America:

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The decades leading up to the Civil War were a time of great change in the United States — politically, economically, and socially. Rapid economic growth brought about a growing middle class, in which many women were better educated than previous generations of their peers. At the same time, a greater number of lower-class women began working outside the home to earn a living. These and other changes led to gender equality becoming one of the most important societal issues of the era.Students will examine an 1850 Census questionnaire and an 1851 political cartoon to understand women’s rights issues during the Antebellum Period. 

Material Type: Activity/Lab

Author: Jen Wachowski

Women of the Antebellum Reform Movement

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The 1830s and 1840s were an era of reform and revival for the United States. In the wake of the spiritual renewal of the Second Great Awakening, many were demanding religious and societal change in order to provide for marginalized people. Women took a leadership role in reform efforts, tackling a broad range of issues from prisons to education to the abolition of slavery. Ultimately, many diverse campaigns merged into activism against slavery. Women reformers saw the results of their efforts during these decades, though some of their goals would have to wait till after the upheaval of the 1850s and the bloodshed of the Civil War in the 1860s. This set highlights several women reformers. For more information on the women’s suffrage movement in particular, see the primary source set on Women’s Suffrage. For a broader picture of the abolitionist movement, visit the source set on The American Abolitionist Movement.

Material Type: Lesson Plan, Primary Source

Authors: Georgetown, James Walsh, Kentucky, Scott County High School

The Struggle over Women’s Rights

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Students examined the landmark legislation and amendments of the Radical Reconstruction era, and they learned about the unprecedented period of interracial democracy that resulted. In this lesson, students will learn about the debate that occurred within the women’s rights movement over the passage of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. They will also conduct a close reading of a speech from Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, an African-American woman who was a leading activist in the fight for Black freedom and women’s rights. Students will acknowledge that progress in making a society more democratic is often slow and uneven. Rights provided to some groups often continue to be denied to others. Students will understand that members of social movements often struggle to create inclusive movements and can fracture along lines of identity such as race, class, and gender.

Material Type: Lesson Plan, Primary Source, Reading

Author: Facing History and Ourselves

Working Women of WWII

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American women played a vital role in the Allies victory in WWII. More than 400,000 served in the military and millions worked in defense industries on the home front. WWII gave women new opportunities for work and independence. Some people viewed these changes as positive, some as negative. Many people were ambivalent about the social changes that affected women during the war. This ambivalence can be explored in contemporary images of women from that era.Students will learn about the social tensions brought about by women entering the workforce during WWII by analyzing portrayals of women in editorial cartoons. 

Material Type: Lesson Plan

Author: Jen Wachowski

African American Women in the Military during WWII

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To assist students in developing analytical skills that will enable them to evaluate primary documents and images such as photographs, political cartoons, and posters related to African American women during World War II. This lesson can be integrated into a classroom activity by individual students, cross-curricular with Language Arts, and/or as a cooperative learning endeavor. Students will analyze Internet websites and access links to a variety of primary and secondary documents. Students will also be introduced students to the Stanford History Educational Group’s Reading Like A Historian teaching strategies to help them investigate historical questions by employing the following reading strategies: Sourcing, Contextualizing, corroborating, and close reading.

Material Type: Lesson Plan, Primary Source, Reading

Author: Michael Young

Center for History Education Online Lessons: Continuity or Change? African Americans in World War II

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Many historians have posed the question: "Was World War II a watershed event in the African-American Civil Rights Movement?" During the war, the "Double V" campaign of the black press called for victory over fascism abroad and racism at home. In this lesson, students will investigate primary-source materials to develop an understanding of the experience of African Americans in the war overseas and on the home front. In doing so, they will consider whether the contradictory gains made in the areas of civil rights, housing, work, and military service represented a break with the past or a continuation of the status quo. Students will examine the experience of African Americans during World War II by analyzing primary sources and formulating historical questions. Students will evaluate if the African American experience during World War II represents continuity or change by writing letters to the editor.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Primary Source, Reading

Authors: Academy for College & Career Exploration, Baltimore City Public School System, Karen Hodges

Sally Hemings

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As an enslaved person, Sally Hemings struggled to improve her family’s prospects as she labored under the institution of slavery. By dividing her life into four major stages, students will encounter the difficult choices forced upon enslaved women by an evil institution. Students will be able to evaluate the choices available to enslaved women like Sally Hemings. Students will use the four essential themes to analyze and discuss Sally Hemings’s impact on her family and plantation community at Monticello. Either individually or as a group, students will present and support their theme and its relevance to Sally Hemings’s life in a cohesive and factual statement using information and knowledge gained from class materials and discussion.

Material Type: Lesson Plan

Author: National Women's History Muesum

Beyond the Picture:Picturing Women Inventors

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The Picturing Women Inventors poster series starts and ends with big ideas and questions. Each set of inventors answers the question asked at the top of the poster. Using an inquiry-based approach, we invite you to first explore the stories of women inventors who are often overlooked or forgotten altogether. While doing so, connect the inventors’ experiences to your own lives. Next, develop your own research question and undertake an investigation of the past to uncover the story of a woman inventor. Throughout this process, continue to think outwardly about the ways your classroom experiences could and should impact your community and the world around you.The Picturing Women Inventors poster exhibition and this accompanying Educators’ Guide engage students by revealing these hidden inventors’ stories and, in the process, help redefine who gets to be an inventor. This activity guide contains aligned standards and objectives, learning strategies, supplementary primary and secondary materials, and inquiry-based learning methods that help students see themselves reflected in the stories of inventors past and present through discussion and a research project. 

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Learning Task, Lesson Plan, Reading

Author: Jen Wachowski

“Women in the Civil War” Lesson Plan

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During the Civil War women played an important role both on the battlefield and on the home front. They helped after battles as nurses, ran businesses and farms, and worked in munitions factories while their fathers and brothers were off at war. They supported the war effort by contributing to organizations like the United States Sanitary Commission, and in rare cases even disguised themselves as soldiers and participated in battles. Students will be able to: 1. Name four roles that women had during the Civil War. 2. Describe four contributions women made to the war effort. 3. Explain three difficulties women faced during the Civil War.

Material Type: Lesson, Lesson Plan, Primary Source, Reading

Author: National Parks Service

Lesson Plan for Mississippi's Forgotten Soldiers: Women in the Ranks during the Civil War Lesson Plan

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Students will be able to determine the roles of women on the home front and battlefront during and after the Civil War., Examine historical events that are significant to Mississippi culture, but also relate to women from other states, evaluate the contributions of women, African Americans, and other minority groups to the war effort. Students will be able to examine primary sources to gain an understanding of women's experiences and contributions to the Civil War.

Material Type: Data Set, Primary Source, Reading

Author: Sydney Pinnen