Women's Suffrage

By: Amy Samuels



In order to develop a foundational understanding of women's suffrage, students will listen to "Sufferin' Till Suffrage" by School House Rock and identify important related pieces of information. Then, in order to develop an understanding that suffrage was not the same for all women, students will analyze "Ain't I a Woman" by Sojourner Truth and compare and contrast the suffrage rights of African-American women to those of white women.

Keywords: suffrage Sojourner Truth reform


Students will listen to "Sufferin'Till Suffrage" in order to identify important factors related to the women's suffrage movement.
Students will analyze "Ain't I a Woman" by Sojourner Truth in order to compare and contrast suffrage rights of African-American women to those of white women.


Standard 4: Demonstrate an understanding of the domestic and international causes, course, and consequences of westward expansion. (SS.8.A.4)
14. Examine the causes, course, and consequences of the women's suffrage movement (1848 Seneca Falls Convention, Declaration of Sentiments). (SS.8.A.4.14)
Standard 1: Use research and inquiry skills to analyze American History using primary and secondary sources. (SS.8.A.1)
7. View historic events through the eyes of those who were there as shown in their art, writings, music, and artifacts. (SS.8.A.1.7)


Academic Preparation

This lesson could be facilitated to introduce students to women's suffrage or, with slight alterations, could be completed any time throughout such a unit to emphasize the suffrage experience was not the same for all women.
Teacher will need to have access to an audio version of "Sufferin' Till Suffrage" by School House Rock, audio of "Ain't I a Woman" (see attachment), copies of the text of "Ain't I A Woman" (see attachment), and audio access to play the audio clips for students.


In order to activate prior knowledge, teacher should ask students to listen to the following word and write what ideas come to mind when they hear it. Teacher should state the word SUFFRAGE. Teacher should allow students time to reflect on their ideas. After reflection, teacher should faciliate class discussion as to what the word means. After allowing students to discuss their ideas, teacher should clarify the meaning of suffrage by defining it as the right to vote.
Teacher should explain to students they are going to listen to a song titled "Sufferin' Till Suffrage" by School House Rock. As they listen to the song, students should be instructed to compose answers to the following questions:
1) According to the song, what rights are women being denied?
2) Acording to the song, what tasks are women supposed to perform?
3) What rule did the 19th Amendment strike down?
4) For what are Susan B. Anthony and Lucretia Mott known?
5) What year was the 19th Amendment passed?
6) What does the phrase "Sufferin' Till Suffrage" mean?
After playing the song once, if it appears that students did not gather responses to the majority of the questions, the teacher should play the song a second time to allow for further exposure.
Responses to the question should be discussed in large group.
Remind students that the women's suffrage movement took place throughout the 1800s and the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920.
Ask students if they think the suffrage rights discussed in the song referred to all women. Through discussion of other types of discrimination that were happening during this time, lead students to a suggestion that African-American women may not have been included in the discussion of women's suffrage.
Tell students that in order to analyze how a famous woman was feeling about the suffrage movement for African-American women, they are going to listen to a famous speech titled "Ain't I a Woman" by Sojourner Truth. The teacher should instruct students to actively listen to the speech. The speech should be played once in its entirety. The teacher should then ask the students to reflect on what they heard. Discussion could be facilitated through questions such as: What details stood out to them? What message was Sojourner Truth trying to deliver?
The text of the speech should be distributed to students. The speech should then be replayed as students highlight details they feel relate to the following question: How might the idea of suffrage been different for African-American women than it was to white women?
Students should then be encouraged to share their responses to the question: How might the idea of suffrage been different for African-American women than it was to white women?
As a wrap-up activity, students should be asked to consider the following.
1) If Sojourner Truth was asked to evaluate the lyrics of "Sufferin' for Suffrage" in regards to African-American suffrage, would she leave the song as is or would she change some things? Explain.
2) If she were to make changes, what would they be? Explain.
3) Would she leave the title of the song "Sufferin' for Suffrage" or would she rename the song? Explain.


Students will be assessed through completion of class discussion and their responses in the wrap-up activity.

Extensions and Adaptations

If an extension activity is desired, working in groups, students could rewrite the lyrics to "Sufferin' for Suffrage" to incorporate the thoughts and ideas of Sojourner Truth.

Estimated Lesson Duration

1hr 00min


  • http://etc.usf.edu/lit2go/contents/4200/4262/4262.html
  • http://etc.usf.edu/lit2go/contents/4200/4262/4262.pdf