Celebrating a Century of Women’s Suffrage with Finish the Fight!

Featured above in illustration from book cover of Finish the Fight! (August 2020): Zitkála-Šá, Jovita Idár, Angelina Weld Grimké, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, and Mabel Ping-Hua Lee.

For women across the United States, August 18, 1920, marked a hard-won victory and the end of a long, sometimes brutal struggle. On that date, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, granting women in the U.S. the right to vote. In the 100 years since that historic moment, women have participated in our electoral system not just as voters but also as candidates and nominees. They have been elected to office as mayors, governors, representatives, senators, and more, though not as President—yet.

In honor of this important centennial, we’re providing you with a sample chapter from the soon-to-be released (August 2020) HMH book, Finish the Fight!: The Brave Revolutionary Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote, by Veronica Chambers and the staff of The New York Times. While names like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton are known far and wide today, this book focuses on the lesser-known figures who helped lead the fight for suffrage in the U.S.—those from diverse backgrounds including Black, Asian, Latinx, and Native American.

The sample chapter is accompanied by activities below, designed to engage students and encourage them to further explore this major triumph for women’s rights.

Activities

In the Shadow of Seneca Falls

Have students research the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848. Then have them create a six-panel comic strip that addresses some of the political, legal, social, and/or other constraints on most American women at the time of the convention.

Spreading the Word

First, students should research clubs and associations that advocated for equal rights for women during the campaign for suffrage. Then, have them write a tweet advertising one of those clubs or associations.

An Object of Equality

Require students to identify, photograph, and write a paragraph about a personal object that symbolizes equal rights based on gender, race, disability, or other characteristics. They should then compile this content into a class PowerPoint presentation.

Should Non-Citizens Be Allowed to Vote?

The authors note in Chapter 10 that non-citizen voting was common in the U.S. until the early 20th century, when there was an emergence of anti-immigrant sentiment. Have students work in small groups, using multiple print and digital resources, to research the topic of non-citizen voting in the U.S. Then have them prepare a pamphlet that identifies the pros and cons of this practice.

If you are teaching remotely and group projects are not feasible, have students work on this activity individually.

Should We Have More Voters or Fewer?

Have students use a variety of print and online resources to identify current efforts to both suppress and advance voting rights. Divide students into teams and have them debate the effects and outcomes of common strategies that are used in these efforts (e.g., gerrymandering, voter ID laws, same-day registration, restoration of felons’ voting rights), using sound reasoning based on credible evidence.

If you are teaching remotely and group projects are not feasible, have each student explore this subject matter in an essay.

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Learn more about HMH Social Studies, which presents the rich, endlessly inventive story of our world, challenging students to dig deep into the past.

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