Women’s Rights: Primary Sources and Teaching Activities

Source: National Archives, DocsTeach, 2019

Women’s Rights and Roles in American History

When our Constitution was written, it was silent on women. Excluded from most of the rights and privileges of citizenship, women operated in limited and rigid roles while enslaved women were excluded from all. Yet women have actively participated as citizens—organizing, marching, petitioning—since the founding of our country. Sometimes quietly, and sometimes with a roar, women’s roles have been redefined. Use this page to find primary sources and document-based teaching activities related to women’s rights and changing roles in American history. Many of the documents, photographs, and other sources are also featured in the exhibits Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote, at the National Archives Museum in Washington, DC, and One Half of the People: Advancing Equality for Women, traveling the country.

Related:
Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote
Source: Library of Congress, 2019

This exhibition will tell the story of the long campaign for women’s suffrage – considered the largest reform movement in American history – which lasted more than seven decades. The struggle was not for the fainthearted. For years, determined women organized, lobbied, paraded, petitioned, lectured, picketed, and faced imprisonment.

The exhibition draws from the Library’s extensive collection of personal papers of such figures as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone, Mary Church Terrell, Harriot Stanton Blatch, Nannie Helen Burroughs, and Carrie Chapman Catt, as well as the organizational records of the National Woman’s Party and the National American Woman Suffrage Association, among others. Documents, images, video and audio recordings trace the movement leading to the women’s rights convention at Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848, through the contributions of suffragists who worked to persuade women that they deserved the same rights as men, the divergent political strategies and internal divisions they overcame, the push for a federal women’s suffrage amendment and the legacy of this movement.

Related Links

  • Votes for Women: Selected Images from the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division
  • Web Guide: Nineteenth Amendment, Researcher and Reference Services
  • Digital Collections

  • Susan B. Anthony Papers
  • Carrie Chapman Catt Papers
  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton Papers
  • Mary Church Terrell Papers
  • National American Woman Suffrage Association Papers
  • Women of Protest: Photographs from the Records of the National Woman’s Party
  • Suffrage Sheet Music
  • For Teachers

  • Primary Source Set: Women’s Suffrage
  • Suffrage Strategies: Voices for Votes
  • Votes for Women: Selections from the National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection 1848-1921
  • Votes for Women: Suffrage Pictures
  • Women Have Had The Right To Vote For 100 Years. Here’s How To Celebrate
    Source: Mikaela Lefrak, WAMU, May 16, 2019

    The history of women’s suffrage and the landscape of Washington, D.C. are inextricably tied. It took decades of women organizing near the Capitol, picketing outside the White House, lobbying Congress and marching on the National Mall to win the right to vote. This June 4 marks the 100-year anniversary of Congress’ passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits the government from denying the right to vote on the basis of sex. Museums and institutions around the District are marking the centennial with exhibitions on the movement’s history and leaders. Here are five of our top picks for places to learn about key women suffragists, the movement’s strategic wins and moral failings and how the fight for voting rights continues today.

    1. Untold Stories: The National Portrait Gallery …..
    2. Primary Sources: The National Archives …..
    3. The Room Where It Happened: Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument …..
    4. Personal Papers Galore: The Library of Congress …..
    5: Tables And Wagons: The National Museum of American History …..
    …..

    Legal Research Data Base Evaluation Drawing the Silken Thread 2d. ed.

    Source: Jonathan Stock, Independent Law Librarian, May 6, 2019

    From the abstract:
    This study constitutes an update of its predecessor released last year. The silken thread, being drawn a second time, this new document should be reviewed in relation to its 2018 first edition. Releasing any successor version recommends dual explanation: what has not changed and what has changed. The former far outnumbers the latter. First among matters not changed is study objective. Institutions still must make data base acquisition decisions – and need to know what they are buying. Vendors build these systems – and need feedback enabling improvements. These considerations recommend a method for objective evaluation. The present effort aims at offering one such method.

    Study method has not changed, except in one detail. This time, six legal databases are addressed: CASEMAKER, FASTCASE, LEXIS, WESTLAW, GOOGLE SCHOLAR, and BLOOMBERG LAW. The approach remains a combination of inductive and deductive logic. Induction operates from the “back forty” wherein six topics embedding similar questions are run through these systems. Deduction operates from the “front forty” wherein data, empirically derived, draws back into general overview.

    How to Rebuild the Labor Movement, State by State – What progressives can learn from conservative anti-union advocacy

    Source: Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, American Prospect, Spring 2019

    Last year’s strikes and direct action by workers, especially red-state public school teachers, have rightly been celebrated for injecting new energy into the American labor movement. Yet these mobilizations should not distract progressives from the magnitude of the challenges facing unions and their supporters in the Democratic Party. The next time Democrats regain control of Congress and the White House, they will need to put major reforms of federal labor law front and center. In the meantime, they ought to learn from conservative anti-union efforts about pursuing change through the states and developing a politically minded strategy for labor reform.

    In particular, Democrats need to think about labor law reform not just as yet another area of public policy, but rather as conservatives do: as a set of reforms that can build durable political power that enables further policy wins on other issues. Before spelling out the specific lessons that the left can take from the right’s victories, it is helpful to step back to see just how differently Democrats and Republicans think about unions.

    All-Out Republican Opposition versus Democratic Ambivalence

    Over the past four decades, conservative political activists and donors, often bolstered by private-sector businesses, have fruitfully used public policy as a political weapon to weaken unions, especially public-sector unions. Crucially, these cross-state conservative coalitions, above all the conservative “troika” of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the State Policy Network, and Americans for Prosperity, have never seen their anti-labor efforts as simply an end in themselves. Instead, right-wing advocacy against unions recognizes the inherently political role that the labor movement plays—and thus that efforts to weaken unions will eventually redound to conservatives’ long-term political victories. …..

    Property Tax Exemptions for Nonprofit Hospitals: What Are They Worth? Do They Earn Them? Evidence From New York City

    Source: Geoffrey Propheter, Public Budgeting and Finance, Early View, First published: March 25, 2019
    (subscription required)

    From the abstract:
    This study estimates the property tax expenditure for nonprofit hospitals (NPHs) in New York City using Medicare and IRS data from 2011 through 2013. After comparing the estimates to various definitions of community benefits, it is concluded that NPHs generally earn their property tax break. Evidence is also presented that using book values is a reasonably accurate method for estimating the property tax expenditure nationwide. Finally, econometric analyses reveals that net income is negatively associated with community benefits, suggesting justification for taxing higher net income hospitals and reallocating the funds to similarly sized but lower net income hospitals.

    The Impact of the Amazon Tax on Local Sales Tax Revenue in Urban and Rural Jurisdictions

    Source: Whitney B. Afonso, Public Budgeting and Finance, Early View, First published: April 5, 2019
    (subscription required)

    From the abstract:
    E‐commerce has become an integral part of Americans’ lives and while it offers many benefits, it also represents forgone sales tax revenue for governments. Using a difference‐in‐differences model, this analysis examines how the Amazon tax affected local sales tax collections in North Carolina and whether that impact has been greater for urban, rural, or tourism‐rich counties. The results suggest that the Amazon tax increased revenues and urban jurisdictions benefit most. This finding is important for practitioners and policymakers as they consider the impact of policy changes, such as the South Dakota v. Wayfair ruling, on revenue capacity and financial management.

    Local Government Fiscal Health: Comparing Self‐Assessments to Conventional Measures

    Source: Stephanie Leiser, Sarah Mills, Public Budgeting and Finance, Early View, First published: April 23, 2019
    (subscription required)

    From the abstract:
    Municipal fiscal condition is typically assessed using objective financial indicators, but little is understood about how local officials subjectively evaluate their own fiscal health. Using both qualitative and quantitative approaches to analyze survey data from Michigan, we explore how local officials conceptualize fiscal health and compare self‐assessments with conventional financial indicators. The results reveal that local officials emphasize long‐run issues and external stressors, but the relative importance of different factors varies depending on whether they report high or low fiscal stress. We suggest that self‐assessments may be a useful supplement to conventional objective measures in capturing “true” fiscal health.

    Puerto Rico ruling highlights importance of parent government credit quality

    Source: Genevieve Nolan, Gregory W. Lipitz, Naomi Richman, Timothy Blake, Leonard Jones, Alexandra S. Parker, Moody’s, Sector In-Depth, May 2019
    (subscription required)

    A court decision that Puerto Rico is not required to pay debt service on bonds backed by special revenues during its bankruptcy-like proceedings underscores how such debt is not immune from default, and that the credit qualities of a general government and its related enterprises are closely related…..

    Traditional Measures of Unemployment Are Missing the Mark

    Source: Mark Paul, Dollars & Sense, no. 341, web-only, May/June 2019

    We’ve heard it countless times in recent media accounts: The economy is at “full employment.” The most recent jobs numbers, out the first week in May, show the official unemployment rate, and applications for unemployment benefits are at a 50-year low. The last time a recovery was able to push the unemployment rate to these levels was in 1969, when my mom was just entering elementary school and the United States was in the heyday of the “Golden Age” of capitalism.

    But economists are puzzled. Despite low unemployment (the current rate is just 3.6%), significant wage increases remain elusive. In other words, workers aren’t benefiting much. This is deeply troubling in an era of unprecedented inequality, driven in large part by decades of a falling wage share. The size of our economic pie may be getting bigger, but the wage share, or the share of the economic pie going to workers, has been contracting. Furthermore, a lack of wage growth isn’t allowing for the true recovery that Main Street so desperately needs…..

    Dancing on Quicksand

    Source: James M. Cypher and Mateo Crossa, Dollars & Sense, no. 341, March/April 2019
    (subscription required)

    A retrospective on NAFTA on the eve on its replacement. ….

    …. NAFTA, signed in late 1993, was essentially an investment project for the United States, falsely portrayed as a “free” trade deal. ….. What the United States wanted was not more trade, but eh end to Mexico’s nationalist investment laws that had restricted here and how U.S. transnational companies could own plants beyond the border region. ….

    Moody’s – Forecast Accuracy

    Source: Regional Financial Review, April 2019
    (subscription required)

    Articles include:

    Forecast Accuracy: U.S. Macro
    Ryan Sweet
    Forecasting the economy for 2018 had its fair share of challenges, as all the details of the fiscal stimulus were not available at the time of the December 2017 forecast. Therefore, a number of assumptions needed to be incorporated. All told, 2018’s forecast accuracy was mixed, and the ultimate grade depends on whether more emphasis is placed on GDP or on labor market indicators. GDP growth was in line with what Moody’s Analytics expected, but job growth was stronger.

    Forecast Accuracy: U.S. Regional Economies
    Christopher Velarides
    The March 2018 forecast accurately predicted the relative strength of the four regions in 2018. The West was the strongest region thanks to the robust tech sector and the rebound in energy. Despite falling short of its forecast, the South is closing the gap with the West. The Northeast and Midwest fell short of expectations.

    Forecast Accuracy: U.S. Housing
    Shannon Brobst
    Overall, 2018 forecasts of house price indexes underestimated the actual house price growth nationally and across U.S. regions. The house price forecasts in 2018 were slightly less accurate than the 2017 forecasts.