This lesson illustrates the struggle women endured economically, politically, and socially in the United States during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Through the analysis of the Hucksters' Petition, National Woman Suffrage Association's Constitution, and the Equal Rights Amendment brochure students will understand the struggle women encountered in their fight to obtain social equality, economic and political rights.
The petition of women hucksters (street vendors) is an attempt for poor workingwomen to gain economic and social recognition in the markets of Philadelphia. They sought redress through the political process; this tradition would be followed by other women's groups trying to gain suffrage rights and ultimately equality. The National Women's Suffrage Association and Equal Rights Amendment brochure clarify what both movements hoped to achieve.
After careful reading of the three documents, students should have an understanding of the constant conflict these organizations encountered in their struggle for equality.
- Students will be able to analyze the discrimination women experienced economically, politically, and socially throughout United States history.
- Students will be able to evaluate the struggles and achievements of various women's organizations throughout United States history.
Suggested Instructional Procedures
- Introduce and provide background information on the subject of women's rights. Review all terms, names, and events that appear in the documents.
- Have the students take notes on the author, year, title, and possible audience for each document.
- Assign the readings either as homework or in class.
- Listed below are a few questions that maybe used as review of reading comprehension, student based discussions, or incorporated into an essay.
- To what extent did the tone of voice of the organizations (authors) change over time from 1805 to 1970?
- In what ways are the three documents similar? How are the similarities of the documents evidence of the constant struggle women endured over the decades? Explain.
- Do you believe that the goals of the ERA brochure have been met? Did the ERA brochure embody all the past grievances of previous women's organizations? Explain.
The unit and lesson plan complement Preserving American Freedom, featuring fifty of the treasured documents within the vast catalog of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. The documents read online will contain annotations that define and explain many key terms, figures, and organizations.
Related Resources for Students
Preserving American Freedom contains contextual essays by eminent historians that elaborate on the documents and their historical period. For this lesson, the following essays provide historical background:
- Contradictions of Freedom in a New Nation
- Labor, Suffrage, and Citizenship in an Age of Industry
- The Civil Rights Era and Beyond
Plans in this Unit
This unit was created by David Reader, HSP's Freedom Teacher Fellow in the summer of 2012. David is a social studies teacher at Camden Catholic High School.