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

Women’s History Month

Women’s history was first celebrated in the United States in March 1981 when Congress authorized the celebration on Women’s History Week. In 1987, upon the request of the National Women’s History Project, Congress passed a resolution to declare March Women’s History Month. Since that time, each president has continued to sign the resolution on an annual basis to continue the tradition of Women’s History Month celebrations.

  • Resource Type: Interactives, Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit), Photography, Research (Digests of Primary Sources), Timelines
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

A Teacher Guide for Women’s History Month

The 116th U.S Congress that began its two-year session in January 2019 is historic for a few reasons. The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, is not only the first woman to hold the position, but also is the first person to return to the Speaker’s office in the House since Sam Rayburn in 1955. On another historical note, 102 women were elected to the House of Representatives and 25 serve in the Senate — the most women ever elected to Congress. With next year marking one hundred years since ratification of the 19th Amendment, this Women’s History Month is about more than just looking back. In this resource, find a list of compelling questions, student activities, and resources and lesson ideas.

  • Resource Type: Modules (Teaching Unit), Primary Sources
  • Subject: Citizenship
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Women Before the American Revolution

This short video explores the limited rights of women prior to the American Revolution. According to the idea of femme covert, women were legally and politically subservient to their husbands. Married women could not own property and all women were considered irrelevant to the political sphere. Professor Rosemarie Zagarri notes that 80% of the freemen in the colonies could vote (as compared to 20% in Great Britain), but suffrage was still limited to men.

  • Resource Type: Video
  • Subject: Citizenship
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Women During the American Revolution

This short video illustrates the degree to which women actively participated in the American Revolution. In response to the Stamp Act, American colonists agreed to stop importing British goods and the colonial women led the boycotts of tea, fine cloth, and other consumer goods. Women began to think of themselves as “Daughters of Liberty.” Professor Rosemarie Zagarri explains how male political leaders came to acknowledge the political capacity and potential of women during this era.

  • Resource Type: Video
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 11, 12

Women, Their Rights and Nothing Less: The First Amendment and the Women’s Suffrage Movement

Use this map to explore how the women’s suffrage movement — and the people who opposed it — tried to influence public opinion. Explore artifacts from billboards and cards to buttons and cartoons. You’ll uncover the wide array of tools and tactics each side used to spread its message, and you’ll see how geography and other factors shaped the form and content of their communication.

  • Resource Type: Audio, Closed Captions, Interactives, Lesson Plans, Media, Modules (Teaching Unit), Primary Sources, Timelines, Video
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

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

Women as Citizens Under the Constitution

This short video traces the evolution of constitutional theory about women’s citizenship. The original Constitution is gender-neutral and women shared many rights enjoyed by men: right to petition, freedom of religion, trial by jury, etc. However, as Dr. Rosemarie Zagarri points out, women’s rights evolved slowly over time in a checkerboard fashion, culminating in the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1919.

  • Resource Type: Video
  • Subject: Citizenship
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Women in the Military

American women have gone to war in various roles throughout U. S. history. Only since 1948, however, have women been slowly integrated into the armed services. Today, a debate centers on whether women should be in direct ground combat. The debate question is: Should Women Be in Direct Ground Combat?

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12