There are many threads students can choose to further investigate the history of suffrage in the United States and around the world. As an extension project, have them come up with a question of their own to explore or research one of these topics.
14. Dig deeper into the history of voting rights in the United States. Though the expansion of the electorate that followed the 19th Amendment was the largest in the history of the United States, it wasn’t the first or the last: The 15th Amendment enfranchised African-American men, for example, and the 26th Amendment 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds.
And beyond the Constitution, laws and Supreme Court decisions have both expanded and restricted suffrage. For example, the Snyder Act in 1924 made all Native Americans citizens, and the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1943 made it possible for Chinese immigrants to be naturalized. Through these laws, these groups gained greater access to the rights and privileges of citizenship, including voting.
But even after they had, on paper, secured the right to vote, many people of color — especially Black, Native and Latinx people — were functionally disenfranchised by poll taxes, literacy tests, white primaries and other forms of voter suppression. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 barred racial discrimination in voting. Even so, many people of color continue to struggle for access to the ballot. In 2013, the Supreme Court effectively struck down the heart of that law in Shelby County v. Holder, and voter suppression persists in many communities.
Invite students to choose a topic related to voting rights and research its history. How did this amendment, law or decision come to pass? Who worked for or against it? What motivated them? What connections can students make between this history and the women’s suffrage movement?
15. Learn about women’s suffrage around the world. Students might research the women’s suffrage movement in another country and compare it to the American movement. What similarities and differences do they notice? What inspiration did American suffragists take from those in the United Kingdom, Finland and Denmark? What patterns do they see in the reasons women fought for suffrage, whether in the United States, Brazil, Japan or Saudi Arabia? What barriers to voting do women in those countries still face?
16. Get to know an “overlooked” suffragist. In honor of the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, The Times’s “Overlooked” project is publishing a series of obituaries about remarkable suffragists whose deaths went unreported in The Times. Have your students choose one of these women to read about and then create something to depict her life, like a mixed media collage or an imaginary Instagram feed:
Ida B. Wells-Barnett
Laura de Force Gordon
Mabel Ping-Hua Lee
Mary Church Terrell