Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Women and World War One
Kate Sutter
American Government
Time Frame:
One class period
Women's History
Gender Studies
Women's History
World War I

Grade Levels:

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:


Students will read primary documents from suffrage workers and female WWI contributors to discover their feelings toward not being allowed to vote.



To show students why women were angry about being disenfranchised when their war work was considered so vital to the nation.  This lesson will be part of a larger unit on Civil Rights as well as highlight the adoption of the 20th amendment.

District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met:

Missouri Standards

  • SS 6. relationships of the individual and groups to institutions and cultural traditions
  • SS 7. the use of tools of social science inquiry (such as surveys, statistics, maps, documents)

Kansas Standards

Benchmark 1: The student uses a working knowledge and understanding of individuals, groups, ideas, developments, and turning points in the era of the emergence of the modern United States (1890-1930).

7. (A) analyzes how the home front was influenced by United States involvement in World War I (e.g., Food Administration, Espionage Act, Red Scare, influenza, Creel Committee).

8. (K) retraces the progress of the women’s suffrage movement from the state to the national arena (e.g., Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul, states granting voting rights in the 19th Amendment).

Benchmark 5: The student engages in historical thinking skills.

1. (A) analyzes a theme in United States history to explain patterns of continuity and change over time.

2. (A) develops historical questions on a specific topic in United States history and analyzes the evidence in primary source documents to speculate on the answers.

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:
  • Remy, Richard C., Ph.D. United States Government: Democracy in Action (New York City: Glencoe-McGraw Hill, 2008).
  • Propaganda analysis sheets if desired


Primary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:

Technology Required:

Overhead to project documents if desired  

Full description of activity or assignment.

Students will read relevant text pertaining to the women's movement in the 19th century and then analyze photographs and posters of women during WWI.  In pairs or small groups, they will find two examples of the government telling women that they are vital to the nation and two examples of women indicating that they can not vote.  They will present their findings to the class.  Then the class will read Anna Howard Shaw's speech from 3 January 1918.  They will work with their partner/group to determine the meaning of the final sentence of her speech.  The teacher may point out that 2 of the countries listed as not franchising women are the current enemy of the United States to help students understand the impact her statement had.  Students would then continue with text material about the ratification of the 19th amendment.  As a part of a Civil Rights unit, the teacher may also begin transitioning to the plight of African Americans by talking about how other groups will use their war experiences to agitate for their rights, as well.

Full explanation of the assessment method and/or scoring guide:

Independently and/or as homework, students will create a propaganda poster and slogan alluding to women's role in the war and desire for suffrage.  They may use WWI posters for examples but not use exact phrases.

The poster will be worth 10 points, broken into the following categories:

                        Accuracy of image(s)                                    0  1  2  3  4

                        Accuracy of slogan (s)                                   0  1  2  3  4

                        Overall neatness                                             0  1  2