"Women, Their Rights, and Nothing Less"

"Women, Their Rights, and Nothing Less"
Helen Taft: Religion, Social Issues and Reform

Skill: High School/College
Time Required: Two weeks


Because Helen Taft was raised in a privileged household, had access to a college education, and was both the daughter and the wife of men who were active and effective in both state and national politics, she did not need to have the vote in order to participate actively in important affairs of the day.  She was thus not an ardent supporter of the women’s suffrage movement, although, in later years, she was clearly proud of her daughter, Helen, who was an active supporter of the suffrage movement.   Unlike Helen Taft, however, millions of women thought that gaining the right to vote was a necessary fulfillment of the democratic ideals upon which the United States was founded.


Students involved in this activity will gain experience in working with primary sources, will gain understanding of the social role of women in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and will learn to recognize and describe methods and strategies utilized in the campaign to achieve suffrage for women in the United States.

Materials Required:

Access to the Internet Women's Rights Movement timeline link


This lesson has been developed by Eliza Hamrick and Donna Levene and uses materials found in the American Memory Collections of the Library of Congress (see web address, below).  The Lesson Plan contains three parts, any of which can stand alone.  Together, the three parts involve students in a wide variety of activities, researches, and evidence-gathering to answer the question: Why did it take 80 years to establish the right to vote for women? 
Students are divided into three groups, each group covering a period of time: 1840-1869; 1870-1899; and 1900-1920.  Activities for each group, as well as evaluations and various worksheets are included in the Plan.

Extending the Lesson:

Lesson extensions are included in the overall lesson plan.

Sources & Resources:

 “Women, Their Rights and Nothing Less”
This lesson plan was developed by Eliza Hamrick and Donna Levene  and found by Averil McClelland, Kent State University.