High School

HS Unit II: Women's Struggle for Equal Rights, 1825 - 1930


John Adams and the other founders did not “remember the ladies” when they wrote the Constitution. Sixty years after independence, free women in the U.S. enjoyed few civil rights and enslaved women had none. Beginning in the 1840s, a small number of women and an even smaller number of men began to advocate, organize, and agitate to expand the educational, occupational, and political opportunities available to women.

Essential Question

What fueled the struggle for woman’s rights in the U.S. from 1840 to 1950?

Note: Before students begin the lessons in this unit, they should be familiar with the basic history of the nineteenth-century woman’s rights movement. A brief overview is on the National Women’s History Project website.


US1.33: Analyze the goals and effect of the antebellum women’s suffrage movement.

USII.9: Analyze the post-Civil War struggles of African Americans and women to gain basic civil rights.

Unit Lessons:

Lesson A: Advocates for Higher Education

Organizing Idea:

Advocates for women's higher education used different strategies to increase opportunities for young women.

Lesson B: The Activists

Organizing Idea:

In Lucy Stone's words, it took years of "toil and fatigue and patience and strife" to increase educational and political opportunities open to women in the U.S.

Lesson C: The Trail Blazers

Organizing Idea:

Women waged personal struggles to gain access to opportunities previously open only to men.

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