The Suffragist

Grade Range: 5-12
Resource Type(s): Interactives & Media, Lessons & Activities
Date Posted: 3/1/2018

The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History presents a filmed version of its on-the-floor program, The Suffragist. 

This set of three classroom videos examines the actions taken by suffragists in 1917 as they fought to win the right to vote. Students meet Rebecca, a historical character from Takoma Park, Maryland, who is grappling with the decision of whether, and if so how, she will join the movement. Through this, students analyze and discuss the suffragists’ arguments and strategies, and investigate the guiding question: What did it take for women to win the vote?

The educators' guide for these videos, which can be downloaded here, contains critical thinking questions, discussion prompts, and links to a collection of primary sources at Smithsonian’s Learning Lab. These resources guide students to explore how the suffragists used the first amendment freedoms provided for citizens within the Constitution to take action, affect change, and reshape their democracy.

Film Segments:

Joining the Movement: In this video, Rebecca examines the history of the woman suffrage movement and decides whether or not to join the Silent Sentinels in their picket of the White House.

Votes for Women: In this video, Rebecca speaks at an open air meeting to argue why women should have the right to vote.

Silent Sentinels: In this video, Rebecca discusses the Silent Sentinels' picket at the White House and the public reaction to their protest.

All segments:

National Standards

Historical Thinking Standards (Grades K-4)

United States History Standards (Grades 5-12)

Common Core State Standards (Grades K-12)

College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards (Grades 6-8)

College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards (Grades 9-12)