Temperance and Other Grassroots Movements

Temperance and Other Grassroots Movements
Ida Mckinley: Religion, Social Issues and Reform

Skill: Elementary School
Time Required: One Day Per Week/Seven Weeks


Ida McKinley was an intelligent observer of current issues and close adviser to her husband.  These two characteristics of the First Lady are credited for his political movement toward support of the temperance movement in 1874.  This position is partially the reason for his successful political career.  Thus when he became president and reversed the Hayes policy of not serving alcohol in the White House, it is not surprising that activists in the temperance movement were angered. These two divergent views of prohibition exemplify the waxing and waning of grassroots movements.


In this lesson students will gain an understanding of grassroots movements by examining four grassroots movements in the 1900’s.

Materials Required:

Access to the Internet and/or access to a public library.


Divide students into groups of four.  Each student in a group will be assigned one of the following grassroots movements: 1) suffrage, 2) temperance, 3) civil rights, and 4) anti-war (Vietnam).  

Tell students that each Monday, for six weeks, they will be given a question for which they must find the answer and report their finding back to their group on the Friday of that week.  The questions are as follow:  

  1. When did the movement start?
  2. Who were the most important people in the movement?
  3. What did people in the movement want?
  4. What did the people in the movement do to get what they wanted?
  5. Did the people in the movement get what they wanted?
  6. What do your family and friends think about what the people in the movement wanted and what they got?  

Each Friday give the groups approximately 45 minutes to report what they discovered.  Tell students that it is important to keep notes on their findings and have each group hand in their notebooks at the end of each meeting.  If some of the students in the class are not doing the necessary work for their group to progress, have a class discussion about meeting obligations.  

After each group has compiled their notes for all questions have them design a strategic plan for the success of a grassroots movement based on what they learned in their research.  The plan should not address a specific issue.  Rather it should represent a culmination of their research.

Extending the Lesson:

To extend this lesson, brainstorm with students the current issues that they think should be addressed by a grassroots movement today.    Divide the class into groups and assign each group a separate issue for which to design a strategic plan.

Sources & Resources:

Anti-war Movement: 
   Erlich, John and Erlich Susan (eds.) Student Power, Participation and Revolution.  New York: Associated Press, 1970, 
   Gitlin, Todd. The Sixties Years of Hope, Days of Rage. New York: Bantam, 1987. 
   Hodgson, Godfrey.  America in Our Time.  New York: Doubleday, 1976. 
   Kane, Frank (ed.).  Voices of Dissent.  Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1970. 
   Kunen, James S. The Strawberry Statement.  New York: Random House, 1968. 
   Miller, James.  Democracy is in the Streets: From Prot Huron to the Siege of Chicago. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987. 
   Report of the President’s Commission on Campus Unrest.  Washington, D. C.: U.S. government Printing Office, 1970.
Civil Rights Movement: 
   Branch, Taylor.  At Canaan’s Edge: American in the King Years, 1954-63. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006. 
   Branch, Taylor.  Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63. New York: Touchstone, 1989. 
   Branch, Taylor.  Pillars of Fire: American in the King Years, 1954-63. New York: Touchstone, 1998. 
   Clar, D., Garrow, David J., and Gill, Gerald. (eds.) The Eyes on the Prize Civil Rights Reader: Documents, Speeches, and Firsthand Accounts from the Black Freedom Struggle.  New York: Penguin Books, 1991. 
   Hampton, Henry, Fayer, Steve and Flynn, Sarah.  Voices of Freedom: An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement from the 1950’s through the 1980’s.  New York: Bantam Books, 1990. 
   Williams, Juan and Bond, Julian.  Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965.  New York: Penguin Books, 1987.
Temperance Movement: 
   Behr, Edward.  Prohibition: Thirteen Years That Changed America.  New York: Arcade Publishing, 1997. 
   Chidsey, Donald Barr.  On and Off the Wagon: A Sober Analysis of the Temperance Movement From the Pilgrims Through Prohibition.  New York: Cowles Book Co., 1969. 
   Hamm, Richard F.  Shaping the Eighteenth Amendment: Temperance Reform, Legal Culture, and the Polity, 1880-1920.  Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1995. 
   Kobler, John.  Ardent Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition.  New York: Putnam, 1973. 
   Pengram, R.  Battling Demon Rum: The Struggle for a Dry America, 1800-1933.  New York: Ivan R. Dee, 1999. 
   Rose, Kenneth D.  American Women and the Repeal of Prohibition.  New York: New York University Press, 1996.
Suffrage Movement: 
     Million, Joelle. Women’s Voice, Women’s Place: Lucy Stone and the Birth of the Women Rights Movement.  Westport:Praeger Publishers, 2003. 
   Rau, Dana Meachen.  Great Women of the Suffrage Movement.  London: Compass Point Books, 2005. 
   Weatherford, Doris. A History of the American Suffragist Movement. Oxford: ABC-clio Inc., 1998.  Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2000. 
   Wheeler, Marjorie Spruill.  New Women of the New South: The Leaders of the Woman Suffrage Movement in the Southern States. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. 
Temperance Movement 

Civil Rights Movement

Anti-war Movement

Suffrage Movement:


This lesson was written by Debra L. Clark, Kent State University.