The 19th Amendment: A Woman’s Right to Vote

Voting is the most basic right of a citizen and the most important right in a democracy. When you vote, you are choosing the people who will make the laws. For almost a century and a half of our nation’s history, women were barred from exercising this fundamental right. This is a film about their long, difficult struggle to win the right to vote. It’s about citizenship, the power of the vote, and why women had to change the Constitution with the 19th Amendment to get the vote.

Expansion of Voting Rights

This lesson provides students with a brief overview of the historical evolution and expansion of voting rights in the United States. Students will discuss examples of previous “voting qualifications” used by states in the past to deny minorities the right to vote. They will reflect on why the right to vote is important, and appreciate the outcomes of constitutional amendments, Supreme Court decisions, and the Voting Rights Act in the expansion of this right.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Voting, Elections, Politics
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8

Extending Suffrage to Women

In this activity, students will analyze documents pertaining to the women’s suffrage movement as it intensified following passage of the 15th Amendment, which guaranteed the right to vote for African American males. Documents were chosen to call attention to the struggle’s length, the movement’s techniques, and the variety of arguments for and against giving women the vote.

  • Resource Type: Primary Sources
  • Subject: Voting, Elections, Politics
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Lessons for Women’s History Month

Here is a collection of lessons and resources on key individual women’s contributions to U.S. and world history, as well as movements that have aimed at equality for women. Key figures in world history include: British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Queen Elizabeth I, Cleopatra and Joan of Arc.  Notable women in U.S. history include activist and journalist Ida B. Wells, environmentalist Rachel Carson  and Harriet Tubman. Other lessons focus on how women won the right to vote, whether women have achieved equality, women serving in Congress, and women in the military.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: History
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Should YOU Have the Right to Vote?

Since 1971, when the 26th Amendment was ratified, the minimum voting age in the United States has been 18, an age qualification that many other countries also use. Is there a good reason for drawing the line at 18, or should younger citizens also have the vote? That question is being debated not only around the United States, but around the world as well. In this unit, you will have the opportunity to explore a proposed federal law extending the right to vote to persons 16 years of age and older.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Voting, Elections, Politics
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

The 19th Amendment and the Road to Universal Suffrage

In this activity, students will explore the struggle for universal suffrage long after both men and women constitutionally had the right to vote. Following a progressive timeline, primary sources highlight voting problems that arose for minority groups throughout the 20th century. Students will answer questions as they work through the documents to reflect on if and when universal suffrage was ultimately achieved.

  • Resource Type: Primary Sources, Timelines
  • Subject: Voting, Elections, Politics
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

The Amendment Process: Ratifying the 19th Amendment

In this activity, students will analyze historical records of Congress and the U.S. government to understand the sequence of steps in the amendment process. Students will study each document and match it to the step in the process that it illustrates.

When put in proper sequence, the documents will show the process by which the 19th Amendment – prohibiting the federal government or states from denying the right to vote on the basis of sex – was added to the Constitution.

Then students will reflect on the process, and the roles that the people, president, Congress and the states play.

  • Resource Type: Primary Sources
  • Subject: Voting, Elections, Politics
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12