Women’s History Resources

The following resources were compiled by Boston Public Schools (BPS) history coach Steven Seto. The Boston Women’s Heritage Trail thanks Steve as well as Robert Chisholm, senior program director, BPS History & Social Studies Department, for permission to publish this information on our web site.

Teacher Materials

Biographies of 21 Notable Women: A Curriculum Resource
Writing for Change: The Power of Women’s Words – Curriculum
Primary Source and Activity Sheets

Museums and Historic Sites

Teaching with images? The National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian hosts an online Flash exhibit, Women Of Our Time. The exhibit includes three sections: Gallery, Biographical Moments, and Styles. Gallery summarizes women’s advances and looks at notable women of achievement in business, politics, social movements, and entertainment. Biographical Moments includes a curator’s explanation of the role of portraiture in documenting a life, providing insights into interpreting portrait photographs. Styles explores the work of individual photographers, including Edward Steichen and Louise Dahl Wolfe and places their work within the photographic conventions of their times.

The Organization of American Historians hosts the National Collaborative for Women’s History Sites, and the National Park Service itemizes lesson plans related to teaching women’s history through historic sites through models diversified by race, geography, and time period.

Women’s History Teaching Resources from the Smithsonian categorizes resources on women’s history by race and ethnicity, professions, and events.

Multimedia

A YouTube series, Facts on Congress, includes a one-minute quick quiz on Women in Congress.

A search on the History Channel under video using the search term women yields audio and video files lasting 30 seconds to four minutes. Some are commentary: Maya Angelou tackles gender and race through comments about the Women’s Movement and her memories of Eleanor Roosevelt and Rosa Parks. Some are historic footage: a newsclip from 1943 celebrates the first birthday of the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps, the predecessor of the Women’s Army Corps. This video is both a primary and secondary source—it reveals multiple perspectives on contemporary attitudes toward women. (Brief commercial messages accompany many History Channel videos.)

A search through the P.O.V Blog (Point of View) on PBS provides lists of documentaries, including Chisholm ’72: Unbought and Unbossed. The film is available through Netflix. The PBS site includes lesson plans and additional resources.

Also on PBS, the American Experience series offers a film on Woodrow Wilson. A full transcript of the program is available online, and the accompanying teachers guide offers a lesson on Women’s Suffrage for grades 7–12. The lesson begins by pointing out that Wilson’s first wife did not have the right to vote for her husband and branches from there into a look at phases of the women’s suffrage movement, obstacles, and the Wilson administration’s stance on women’s suffrage.

Libraries and Archives

American Women’s History: A Research Guide, a resource from the Middle Tennessee State University Library, is an extensive gateway to collections of women’s history resources—print, media, and digitized primary sources—grouped under 75 alphabetized topics ranging from abolitionists to writers to Hispanic Americans, philanthropists, sports, and work.

The Library of Congress window on materials about women’s history, Women’s History Month, leads to a wealth of materials recognizing “the creativity, imagination, and vitality of women throughout U.S. history.” Materials still available from 2008 emphasized the theme Women’s Art, Women’s Vision.

At the Library of Congress, see also “Votes for Women” Suffrage Pictures, 1850–1920.
Pathfinder for Women’s History at the National Archives systematizes the hunt for resources through defined categories of Primary Documents, Monographs and Anthologies, and Reference Works.

For primary source documents, see Teaching With Documents: Woman Suffrage and the Nineteenth Amendment on the National Archives site.

Miscellany

A 12th-grade curriculum module from Annenberg Media, titled Gender-based Distinctions, analyzes the question, “When does the government have the right to treat men and women differently?” Students debate gender discrimination laws. Title IX, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 1972 Amendments, and court cases are among examined materials. A video demonstrates classroom implementation of the lesson plan. Annenberg requires a login; online materials are free of charge.

Also from Annenberg: The Lowell System: Women in a New Industrial Society, Workshop Three of Primary Sources: Workshops in American History, illustrates through primary source documents just how much industrialization changed the lives of women. Documents, activities, videos, and lecture transcripts are available on the website.

And Annenberg recommends Remember the Ladies, correspondence between Abigail Adams and her husband, John Adams, in 1776, and speeches by Sojourner Truth, on the web site for America’s History in the Making. Also see the program Industrializing America to trace the developments leading to women’s entry into the workforce en masse.

The Women In World History website includes a resource page, Teaching Women’s Rights from Past to Present. Resources include lesson plans, links to primary source documents and analysis, and an emphasis on law and policy demonstrating a formal extension of women’s rights.

In 2007, Scholastic Magazine asked filmmaker Anne Aghion about Women’s History Month. Her response: it made her sad that Women’s History Month was even needed, but, “The truth is, women still have to work harder than men do to succeed in certain professions.” Scholastic’s activities for students grades 5–8 include Women’s Suffrage, a unit including interactive maps and quizzes and the stories of one woman who remembered casting her first vote in 1920.

PBS Kids offers a contextualized essay on Alice Paul and the National Women’s Party.

Women In Congress a rich website of the Office of the Clerk, U.S. Capitol, includes historical essays, artifacts, fast facts, and educational resources—including seven lesson plans.

The Library of Congress American Memory Project has a collection entitled Votes for Women; the selections are from the National American Women’s Suffrage Association, 1848-1921. The Library of Congress’ Votes for Women collection also has a photo collection.

Women’s History: A Guide to Library and Internet Resources offers bibliographies, biographical sources, videos, indexes and journals, microtext collections and exhibits on the internet and networking with other historians.

War, Women and Opportunity looks at two centuries of American women photographers, newspaper and broadcast reporters, concentrating on early women newspaper reporters and women reporters during wartime.

Civil War Women is the theme for this fine online archive at Duke University.

Women’s History in America takes an historical look at the limited rights and career opportunities of women.

Women Win the Vote profiles 75 suffragists and explores the history of women’s suffrage.

Golden Legacy Curriculum discusses the old Chinese custom of foot binding and compares it with the restrictive clothing in the past and today.