American History

Talking to Kids About Women’s Suffrage in the U.S.

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Votes for Women banner from Little Rebel Rosie

We’re almost a hundred years out from women’s suffrage here in the United States, making that event officially ancient history in the eyes of my kids. It isn’t real to them that there was ever a time when women couldn’t vote or when people believed that a woman wasn’t capable of being responsible for things like influencing politics. In this climate, the kids are constantly bumping into pro-women slogans and the idea that girls are powerful is reinforced every day.

I bring up the marches for women’s suffrage pretty often, though, to remind the kids that marching peacefully can have a big impact on creating lasting change. Those marches are something of a “safe zone” for talking politics with the kids because we can discuss things like protesting and citizen involvement without talking about current issues that are a little above their heads.

Here are some talking points for parents:

/// Women’s suffrage was legalized nationally in 1920 when the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gave all women the right to vote.

/// The word “suffrage” just means “having the right to vote” and has nothing to do with the idea that women had to suffer before they were allowed to vote. Unfortunate lexicon mishap that still confuses American History students everywhere.

/// It was not only women that marched and protested for women’s suffrage. In this article from the Oakland Tribune, Oct. 24 1915, you can see that 8,000 men (and 500+ babies!) marched in support.

/// The women’s suffrage was not limited to the United States. Over a forty year period, countries across the world were engaged in struggles for suffrage, with Britan and other independent countries actually beating the U.S. to victory. This timeline is closely intertwined with World War I and the contributions that women made during war time.

/// Some states allowed women to vote before the Nineteenth Amendment was passed. Colorado, Utah, and Idaho were the three earliest, passing women’s suffrage in 1893 and 1896, more than twenty years before it became national law. In 1890, Wyoming agreed to join the United States on the condition that women be allowed to vote.

Image Source: Library of Congress

A list of children’s books focused on women’s suffrage in the United States (with affiliate links from Amazon):

/// I Could Do That!: Esther Morris Gets Women the Vote by Linda Arms White

/// You Want Women to Vote, Lizzie Stanton? by Jean Fritz

/// With Courage and Cloth: Winning the Fight for a Woman’s Right to Vote by Ann Bausum

/// Rightfully Ours: How Women Won the Vote by Kerrie Logan Hollihan

/// Marching with Aunt Susan: Susan B. Anthony and the Fight for Women’s Suffrage by Claire Rudolf Murphy

/// Around America to Win the Vote: Two Suffragists, a Kitten, and 10,000 Miles by Mara Rockliff

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