Lesson Plan: Women's Suffragist Tactics

The Suffragist Movement

Author Lucinda Robb discusses how this movement took decades to achieve its goals. She explains the significance of this movement and tactics that were implemented by key historical figures that are still seen today.


How did the suffragists win the vote? In this lesson, students will hear from co-authors Lucinda Robb and Rebecca Boggs Roberts as they discuss tactics that were implemented by key figures in the women's rights movement in the 1800s. Students will also see how some of these strategies can be seen in current social movements.


  • SET-UP:

    This lesson offers several options for you to use with your students whether you are teaching in class, using a hybrid model, or engaging through distance learning. It can be completed in steps as a class or students can move at their own pace and complete the activities independently.

    You can post links to the videos in the lesson along with the related handouts and engage in discussion to share responses on a discussion board or learning management system.

    You can also save and share the following Google resources for students to use with this lesson.

    Vocabulary Chart: Women's Suffragist Tactics (Google Doc)

    Handout with Videos & Questions: Women's Suffragist Tactics (Google Doc)

    In Google, choose "File" then "Make a Copy" to get your own copy. You can make any needed adjustments in the instructions such as which activities students need to complete, when it is due, etc. and then make it available to them via Google.


    As a class, view the following video clip to establish background information on the topic. Engage in whole class discussion to clear up any misconceptions and ensure understanding before moving on to the exploration.

    Video Clip 1: The Suffragist Movement (1:30)

    Author Lucinda Robb discusses how this movement took decades to achieve its goals. She explains the significance of this movement and tactics that were implemented by key historical figures that are still seen today.

    As a class, have students brainstorm current social movements and connect some of the topics Lucinda Robb discusses to compare the women's movement to today:

    • How long has the movement been going on?

    • What strategies have been used to address change on the issue? (ex: marches, speeches, etc. )

    • Who has been involved in supporting the issue? (students, celebrities, politicians, etc.)

    Have students view the following video clips and respond to the accompanying questions. They can watch each video independently or with a partner. Students should take notes on the handout and prepare responses to the questions to share them in class discussion.

    Video Clip 2: Suffragist Lucy Stone Tactics (4:40)

    Lucinda Robb discusses how women's rights activist and abolitionist Lucy Stone was an effective speaker and advocate for change.

    • Why is storytelling important in advocating for a cause, according to Lucinda Robb?

    • Why did people attend speeches in the early 19th century?

    • How were women treated at public events during this time?

    • Describe Lucy Stone's experience and effectiveness in public speaking.

    • How did people perceive her?

    • What strategy did she use?

    • How does this connect to present day social movements?
  • Video Clip 3: Suffragist Susan B. Anthony Tactics (5:33)

    Author Rebecca Boggs Roberts talks about the tactics Susan B. Anthony used as an advocate for women's rights during the 19th century. She also discusses the split in the women's movement after passage of the 15th Amendment and highlights how those tactics can be seen today.

    • Describe some of the tactics Susan B. Anthony used to support the women's movement.

    • Why was there a split in the Suffragist movement?

    • Explain the tactics of the American Woman Suffrage Association.

    • Explain the tactics of the National Woman Suffrage Association.

    • Explain Susan B. Anthony’s experience when she voted in 1872. What was the result?

    • According to Rebecca Boggs Roberts, how does this compare with the Black Lives Matter event in Lafayette Square in Washington, DC in 2020?

    • Explain the significance of crafting an image when advocating for a cause.
  • Video Clip 4: Suffragist Alice Paul Tactics (4:57)

    Rebecca Boggs Roberts discusses how Alice Paul became involved in the women's right movement and the tactics she brought to the advance the cause.

    • How did Alice Paul become involved with the Suffragist movement?

    • What tactic did she propose to implement in Washington, DC? What was the result?

    • Where has this tactic been seen today?
  • Video Clip 5: Suffragist Frances Willard Tactics (4:03)

    Lucinda Robb talks about Frances Willard and her activism in the women's rights movement in the 1800s. She highlights her involvement with the Women's Christian Temperance Union and how she brought the suffrage movement into the mainstream.

    • According to Lucinda Robb, why does every movement need radicals and moderates?

    • What tactic does she claim gets overlooked?

    • How was Frances Willard viewed among the public?

    • According to Lucinda Robb, why were women concerned about alcohol use during the 1800s?

    • How did she use her brand, her image, to market her message?

    • Where can this tactic be seen today?
  • Video Clip 6: Suffragists Ida B. Wells & Mary Church Terrell Tactics (2:51)

    Rebecca Boggs talks about the experiences and contributions of Ida B. Wells and Mary Church Terrell to African American rights.

    • Explain Ida B. Wells' experiences as a suffragist and early activist for African American rights, as Rebecca Boggs Roberts describes.

    • Explain Mary Church Terrell’s contribution as a suffragist.

    • What lessons can be seen today?
  • Video Clip 7: Allies in Social Movements (9:00)

    Lucinda Robb explains the significance of allies in social movements. She discusses the process in passing the 19th Amendment.

    • According to Lucinda Robb, why is it important to recruit allies?

    • Explain the importance of allies in passing the 19th Amendment as Rebecca Boggs explains.

    • Explain the roles of Congressmen Thetus Sims (TN) and Frederick Hicks (NY) in passing the 19th Amendment.

    • Discuss the ratification process for the 19th Amendment at the state level.

    • What was the War of the Roses?

    • Why were some groups opposed to the suffrage movement?

    • Explain the significance of Harry T. Burn (TN) in ratifying the 19th Amendment.

    As a class, students can share what they learned in the video(s) they viewed to discuss the tactics that were discussed.

    Return to the list that was brainstormed in the beginning of the lesson. Have students share any new strategies they learned that could be applied to an issue.


    Students should consider the information they learned through the videos and class discussion and complete one of the following activities. You can give students options to present their information in either in written form, as a slideshow, through artwork that would advertise their issue or some other creative way they would prefer.

  • 1: Choose a current social movement to research and present to the class. You should include the following information:

    • What is your topic? Explain the positions of the people involved. What do they want to change? What is the opposing side?

    • When did the movement begin?

    • Who is involved with it? Who are the allies?

    • What strategies/tactics have been used to affect change?
  • 2: Choose an issue with which you would like to see change. Develop a plan for how you would approach sharing your message. You should include the following information:

    • What is your issue? Explain the current positions on different sides.

    • Has this issue been addressed in the past? If so, when did the movement begin?

    • Who would you like to have as your allies? Why would you choose them?

    • What strategies/tactics would you use to share your message?

    Students can search the C-SPAN Video Library for video of current social movements. They can create their own short video clips using the clipping tool. Students can aggregate clips that represent a variety of perspectives and events on the issue and share them in a presentation.

Additional Resources


  • 15th Amendment
  • Abolitionist
  • Activist
  • Advocate
  • Ally
  • Enfranchise
  • Evangelical
  • Faction
  • Injustice
  • Legacy
  • Lobby
  • Mock
  • Moderate
  • Nonpartisan
  • Publicity Stunt
  • Radical
  • Ratify
  • Seneca Falls
  • Suffrage
  • Tactic
  • Temperance
  • Transgressive


Civil Rights & Civil LibertiesConstitutional FoundationU.S. History


Middle SchoolHigh School