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How Women Won The Vote

Teaching Kids About The U.S. Suffrage Movement

25 Books & Films About the Fight for Women's Suffrage in the United States

For children today, it's hard to imagine a time when women couldn't vote; realizing that they've had that right for less than 100 years is astounding. It's equally shocking when they learn that women had to fight for 72 years before the 19th Amendment — which stated that no citizen could be denied the right to vote on account of sex — became law. So it's imperative that we teach today's children about the struggle for women's suffrage, not just to honor the dedication and sacrifices of the women who led the Women's Suffrage Movement, but also to ensure that future generations don't take the right to vote for granted.

In this blog post, we're highlighting books and films about women's suffrage in the United States: the history of the movement, the women who led it forward, and the tremendous challenges that they faced in their quest to ensure that women's voices could be heard at the ballot. These stories will both educate kids about a critical moment in women's history and inspire them to see the power of determined activists and political leaders to make big changes in the world.

For more books about suffrage in both the US and around the world, visit the Suffrage section of our Women's History Collection. For books about the voting rights struggles which continued during the Civil Rights Movement, visit our special feature on the Top Mighty Girl Books on Civil Rights History.

How Women Won The Vote

Elizabeth Leads The Way: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Right to Vote

Elizabeth Leads The Way: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Right to Vote

Written by: Tanya Lee Stone
Illustrated by: Rebecca Gibbon
Recommended Age: 4 - 8

From an early age, Elizabeth Cady Stanton was aware that women did not have equal rights with men — and she was determined to change that. Unlike many women of her time, she went to college and soon began gathering other like-minded women to demand equality. At the first ever women's right conference that she organized in Seneca Falls, New York, Stanton presented the Declaration of Right and Sentiments, which included a demand for the women's right to vote. In this picture book biography, Tanya Lee Stone focuses on seeing the world through Stanton's eyes, without facts or dates, making her relateable for younger readers; an author's note at the end talks about Stanton's further accomplishments after the convention.

Marching with Aunt Susan: Susan B. Anthony and the Fight for Women's Suffrage

Marching with Aunt Susan: Susan B. Anthony and the Fight for Women's Suffrage

Written by: Claire Rudolf Murphy
Illustrated by: Stacey Schuett
Recommended Age: 4 - 8

It's 1896, and all Bessie wants is to go hiking with her father and brothers... but girls don't hike, so they leave her at home. Instead, she gets to meet an intriguing guest: Susan B. Anthony, in town for a suffrage rally in hopes of passing the first referendum on women's suffrage. Inspired by Anthony's speech, Bessie recruits a friend to join her as she helps at the suffrage headquarters. There may be lots of things that Bessie can't do, but perhaps, someday, those restrictions will finally lift. Although the 1896 referendum did not pass, Claire Rudolf Murphy's fictional story of a real Californian girl hints at the change to come: Bessie's mother learns to ride a bicycle and her father decides to take her hiking after all.

Around America to Win the Vote: Two Suffragists, A Kitten, and 10,000 Miles

Around America to Win the Vote: Two Suffragists, A Kitten, and 10,000 Miles

Written by: Mara Rockliff
Illustrated by: Hadley Hooper
Recommended Age: 5 - 9

Nell Richardson and Alice Burke wanted to convince America to support equal voting rights for women... so in April 1916, they set out from New York City to tell people in person! In a little yellow car, carrying key supplies like a typewriter, a sewing machine, and a little black kitten, they toured the country over 10,000 miles of bumpy, muddy terrain. In honor of the 100th anniversary of their whirlwind tour, author Mara Rockliff and illustrator Hadley Hooper have created a charming and lively picture book that beautifully captures their spirit of adventure and their determination to spread the message about equal voting rights.

Heart On Fire: Susan B. Anthony Votes for President

Heart On Fire: Susan B. Anthony Votes for President

Written by: Ann Malaspina
Illustrated by: Steve James
Recommended Age: 5 - 9

In 1872, Susan B. Anthony made history — and broke the law — by casting a vote in the presidential election. Anthony was prepared to argue that the 14th Amendment, which had been ratified in 1868, extended voting rights to women. In this inspiring story, kids follow Anthony as she casts her vote, and then persists in arguing for women's suffrage even as she is arrested, tried, and convicted — what she called "[t]he greatest outrage history every witnessed." The story ends with the judge's infamous fine of $100, which Anthony refused to pay. This dramatic celebration of Anthony's tireless efforts on behalf of women's suffrage, which wouldn't be added to the US Constitution until 1920, will have kids seeking out more information about this dedicated suffragist.

I Could Do That!: Esther Morris Gets Women the Vote

I Could Do That!: Esther Morris Gets Women the Vote

Written by: Linda Arms White
Illustrated by: Nancy Carpenter
Recommended Age: 5 - 9

All her life, Esther Morris' response to any challenge was, "I could do that." She proved her mettle when she started her own business at the age of 19. But even though she knew she was capable of voting, only men were allowed to cast a ballot so she decided it was time for a change! Morris led the first successful  American campaign for women's suffrage in Wyoming Territory, which passed in 1869, and went on to become the first woman judge and the first woman to hold political office in the US. This lively story captures the determination and confidence of a woman who never saw a thing she couldn't do.

Ballots for Belva: The True Story of a Woman's Race for the Presidency

Ballots for Belva: The True Story of a Woman's Race for the Presidency

Illustrated by: Courtney Autumn Martin
Recommended Age: 5 - 10

In 1884, women weren't allowed to vote for America's president but a woman named Belva Lockwood realized that there wasn't anything preventing a woman from running for president! And she was no gimmicky candidate: Lockwood had gone to college and passed the bar, and had even argued cases in front of Supreme Court. Although her campaign was difficult, Lockwood never wavered in her commitment to the fight for equality. She earned the respect of many voters and thousands of votes — and started an important conversation about women's role in politics. This fascinating story is accented by elegant illustrations, and includes a glossary and a timeline of the Women's Suffrage Movement. For another picture book about this trailblazer, we recommend A Lady Has The Floor: Belva Lockwood Speaks Out for Women's Rights.

Elizabeth Started All The Trouble

Elizabeth Started All The Trouble

Written by: Doreen Rappaport
Illustrated by: Matt Faulkner
Recommended Age: 6 - 9

This unique picture book takes readers on a journey through the seven decades of the Women's Suffrage Movement. From Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott at the Seneca Falls convention, to Alice Paul and Lucy Burns' protests that finally led to the 19th Amendment, this book presents a capsule history of the movement, its key figures, and the most important moments on the quest to get women the vote. With enough detail to satisfy a newly independent reader, but an accessible tone that creates a sense of excitement to the story, this newly released book is sure to become a favorite resource on women's history.

Bold & Brave: Ten Heroes Who Won Women the Right to Vote
New!

Bold & Brave: Ten Heroes Who Won Women the Right to Vote
New!

Written by: Kirsten Gillibrand
Illustrated by: Maira Kalman
Recommended Age: 6 - 10

In time for the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand introduces young readers to the bold and brave women of the American Suffrage Movement in this inspiring picture book! It took seventy years of passion, perseverance, and protest before women won the right to vote, and the ten women featured here poured their hearts and souls into the fight. With a mix of both well-known names like Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, and Sojourner Truth and lesser known women such as Jovita Idár and Mary Church Terrell, Gillibrand tells the stories of these courageous women of the past with vigor — and encourages young readers to raise their own voices to build our future.

Chasing Freedom: The Life Journeys of Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony, Inspired by Historical Facts

Chasing Freedom: The Life Journeys of Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony, Inspired by Historical Facts

Written by: Nikki Grimes
Illustrated by: Michele Wood
Recommended Age: 7 - 10

When women were just beginning their quest for the vote, it's important to remember that African Americans still faced the struggle to end slavery. In this work of historical fiction, award-winning author Nikki Grimes imagines a conversation between Harriet Tubman, the legendary Underground Railroad conductor and civil rights advocate, and Susan B. Anthony, the famous women's suffrage leader. As they chat, they tell their stories, set against the backdrop of a rapidly changing 19th century America. This unique look at two of America's history-making women also includes back matter that encourages kids to learn more about them and their period of history.

Ida B. Wells: Let The Truth Be Told

Ida B. Wells: Let The Truth Be Told

Written by: Walter Dean Myers
Illustrated by: Bonnie Christensen
Recommended Age: 6 - 9

While trailblazing journalist and activist Ida B. Wells is best known for her work with the Civil Rights Movement, she was a devoted suffragist as well. This book takes young readers through Wells' life, from her birth in slavery to her remarkable academic career, and then highlights her work as a teacher and crusader for equality on multiple fronts. Walter Dean Myers captures the determination and drive of this incredible woman, while Bonnie Christensen's historically accurate illustrations enhance the text. The contributions of women of color in the Women's Suffrage Movement are often overlooked, so this book provides an opportunity to discuss their role in the journey towards universal suffrage.

Who Was Susan B. Anthony?

Who Was Susan B. Anthony?

Illustrated by: Mike Lacey
Recommended Age: 8 - 12

The indomitable Susan B. Anthony gets her own entry in the accessible Who Was...? biography series! From her time working as a schoolteacher in New York — where her refusal to accept lower pay than her male colleagues marked the beginning of a career advocating for women's rights — to her speaking tours in the US and Europe, this book captures the real woman behind the history books. These popular illustrated biographies capture the time period and the personalities involved and are a great way to introduce kids to key figures from history.

What Is The Women's Rights Movement?

What Is The Women's Rights Movement?

Illustrated by: Laurie A. Conley
Recommended Age: 8 - 12

For kids today, the idea that women couldn't vote, or didn't belong in many jobs, is foreign — but this history is critical for understanding how far we've come and the struggles that carry on to this day. In this engaging volume from the Who Was...? biography series, young readers will learn the story of the Women's Rights Movement, from its early days with leaders with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton fighting for the vote to the work of 20th century groundbreakers to present day events like the historic 2017 Women's March. This compelling introduction to women's long fight for equality will inspire kids to continue to work for positive social change.

A Woman In The House (And Senate): How Women Came to the United States Congress, Broke Down Barriers, and Changed the Country

A Woman In The House (And Senate): How Women Came to the United States Congress, Broke Down Barriers, and Changed the Country

Written by: Ilene Cooper
Illustrated by: Elizabeth Baddeley
Recommended Age: 8 - 14

Did you know that Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to Congress, won her seat at a time when many women in America still couldn't vote? Author Ilene Cooper's intriguing story of women in politics begins with the Suffrage Movement and then goes on to tell the story of the women who have since played roles in America's national political scene. By sharing their stories, Cooper simultaneously highlights the successes of the past and present, while also showing why parity in politics is such an important goal. Kids will enjoy the informal writing style and the interesting anecdotes about these history-making women.

Rightfully Ours: How Women Won the Vote

Rightfully Ours: How Women Won the Vote

Written by: Kerrie Logan Hollihan
Recommended Age: 9 and up

In this lively narrative, Kerrie Logan Hollihan provides an overview of the Women's Suffrage Movement for tweens and teens. Hollihan looks at several heroes of the movement, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Lucy Burns, and Alice Paul, as well as the key events of the decades-long movement. Along with the history, the book provides 21 activities to give kids a sense of the everyday life of the suffragists, from making a protest banner with coat hangers to baking a cake with suffrage frosting to composing a suffrage rhyme. This entry in the For Kids book series is sure to inspire young readers and give them a new appreciation of women's hard-fought struggle to have their right to vote recognized!

Not For Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Susan B. Anthony

Not For Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Susan B. Anthony

Recommended Age: 9 and up

This fascinating documentary tells the story of how these two determined and courageous women became the strong roots of the women's rights movement in the United States. Through a combination of actors reading the women's writings, commentary from historians, and archival photographs and footage, director Ken Burns tells each woman's story — as well as the story of their friendship — and shows how each chose a different path that, nevertheless, led each of them towards a life of activism on behalf of American women. Finally, he shows how far women's rights have come since Stanton and Anthony started their crusade, and highlights how their work continues to resonate with today's women's rights activists.

Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way)

Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way)

Written by: Sue Macy
Recommended Age: 10 - 14

What is now a childhood rite of passage — riding a bicycle — was once a revolutionary opportunity for women to gain freedom of movement and independence. Sue Macy uses vintage photographs, advertisements, cartoons, and more to show how the ability to travel freely made definitive improvements in women's lives — something that's still happening in other countries of the world today. Most importantly, the ability to travel alone to gather with other women was a key element in the success of the Women's Suffrage Movement; with two wheels of her own, no woman had to wait for her father's or husband's permission to stand with the suffragists.

Roses and Radicals

The Epic Story of How American Women Won the Right to Vote

Roses and Radicals

The Epic Story of How American Women Won the Right to Vote

Recommended Age: 10 and up

It's easy to say that the 19th Amendment "gave" women the right to vote, but the truth is that women had to fight to win that right — for almost eighty years, with literal blood, sweat, and tears. In this exciting volume, author Susan Zimet captures just how complicated the quest for women's suffrage in the United States was, and paints vivid portraits of the women who endured mockery, arrest, and even torture to achieve it, in some cases knowing that the Amendment wouldn't pass in their lifetimes. With portraits, period cartoons, and other archival images, Zimet highlights just how controversial the notion of votes for women was. Tween and teen readers will be shocked to learn the details of this epic women's rights battle — and inspired to use their votes well in future!

With Courage and Cloth: Winning the Fight for a Woman's Right to Vote

With Courage and Cloth: Winning the Fight for a Woman's Right to Vote

Written by: Ann Bausum
Recommended Age: 10 and up

When Alice Paul helped design the banners for the Women's Suffrage Movement, she suggested three colors: purple for justice, white for purity of purpose, and gold for courage. The colors were apt, because facing the angry opponents of women's suffrage required an ample helping of all three! In this fascinating book, Ann Bausum melds archival photographs with a compelling narrative telling of the history of women's suffrage to create a history book that reads like a thriller. Bausum doesn't shy away from the consequences that these brave activists faced, from prisons full of rats to force feeding when they went on hunger strikes. Her book serves as an apt reminder that women were not given the vote — they won it, through blood, sweat, and tears.

One Woman, One Vote

One Woman, One Vote

Recommended Age: 10 and up

This documentary of the seven decade fight for women's suffrage in the US examines how a country that proclaimed itself the world's greatest democracy could justify refusing the vote to so many citizens. Director Ruth Pollack presents the reasons that people of both genders opposed the idea of women's suffrage, and explores how the women's rights movement managed to overcome their objections in order to pass the 19th Amendment in 1920. Susan Sarandon narrates this story, which also touches on notable figures like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Alice Paul, and captures the shift as women's suffrage went from a fringe opinion to a sophisticated, organized movement.

Alice Paul and the Fight for Women's Rights

Alice Paul and the Fight for Women's Rights

Written by: Deborah Kops
Recommended Age: 10 and up

Alice Paul not only helped win the battle for women's suffrage in the United States, she remained a leading women's rights activist for decades during the "second wave" of feminism, as women fought for full equality with men across society. At the beginning of the 20th century, Paul reignited the Women's Suffrage Movement with dramatic new protests, finally bringing sufficient pressure on elected officials that the 19th Amendment was passed in 1920. Then, she set her sights on other laws that discriminated against women. Her proposed Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) may not have been passed — yet — but her continued fight for equality for women has inspired the generations after her to take up the banner. This compelling biography provides an excellent introduction for tweens and teens to the life and work of one of the greatest champions of women's rights in U.S. history.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony: A Friendship that Changed the World

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony: A Friendship that Changed the World

Written by: Penny Colman
Recommended Age: 12 and up

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was the married mother of four boys; Susan B. Anthony was a  former school teacher who was resolved never to marry. And yet these two women shared a deep conviction in the need for women's rights — and particularly the right to vote. Together, they worked tirelessly to change attitudes and laws, despite ferocious opposition from outside the movement and betrayals from friends and family. Penny Colman's excellent narrative has just been reprinted in a paperback edition, ensuring that a new group of girls will have the opportunity to read about this influential friendship.

The Feminist Revolution — A Story of the Three Most Inspiring and Empowering Women in American History: Susan B. Anthony, Margaret Sanger, and Betty Friedan

The Feminist Revolution — A Story of the Three Most Inspiring and Empowering Women in American History: Susan B. Anthony, Margaret Sanger, and Betty Friedan

Written by: Jules Archer
Recommended Age: 14 and up

The struggle for women's suffrage may have been long and arduous, but it was also the springboard to many other great strides for women! In this newly revised version of Jules Archer's excellent book, kids learn about three critical figures from American history who rarely appear in general history books. Archer lays out how Susan B. Anthony's role in pushing for women's right to vote set the groundwork for Margaret Sanger's quest for the right to birth control, and then to Betty Friedan's campaign for equal job opportunities. All of these are things that today's girls and women may take for granted; this book highlights not only the sacrifices that were necessary to gain these rights, but also how each of them was a necessary prerequisite to the next.

Iron Jawed Angels

Iron Jawed Angels

Recommended Age: 13 and up

This inspiring film starring Oscar-winner Hilary Swank is one of the few feature films focused on the Women's Suffrage Movement in the US. It tells the story of Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, two young women's rights activists who broke with the established suffragists to establish the National Women's Party and lead the final successful campaign for women's suffrage in the United States. The film compellingly depicts the fervent energy that Paul and Burns injected into the suffrage battle — through White House pickets, imprisonment, hunger strikes, and force feeding, these determined women were unstoppable in their pursuit of women's suffrage. This moving film will give viewers a new appreciation of the unflagging perseverance and the astounding personal sacrifices made by suffragists in their efforts to win women the right to vote. Due to a harsh, though realistic, force-feeding scene, we recommend this film for teen and adult viewers.

Amazon.co.uk

Votes for Women!: American Suffragists and the Battle for the Ballot

Votes for Women!: American Suffragists and the Battle for the Ballot

Written by: Winifred Conkling
Recommended Age: 13 and up

When American women won the right to vote in 1920, it was the culmination of a nearly eighty-year fight! In this mesmerizing book, author Winifred Conkling crafts a unique history of the Women's Suffrage Movement that explores the broader progress of the movement, as well as its often powerful and sometimes rocky relationship with the temperance and abolitionist movements. From early activists like Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth; to the first female candidate for president, Victoria Woodhull; to later activists like Alice Paul and Lucy Burns who succeeded in successfully pushing the amendment through at great personal cost, Votes for Women! tells their stories and explores their legacies in a riveting and unflinching fashion.

A Woman's Crusade: Alice Paul and the Battle for the Ballot

A Woman's Crusade: Alice Paul and the Battle for the Ballot

Written by: Mary Walton
Recommended Age: Adults

Alice Paul went from a studious life as the daughter of a devoted Quaker family to being the leader of the militant wing of the women's rights movement. Her daring and unconventional tactics forced the hand of President Woodrow Wilson and the U.S. Congress — but getting there came at significant cost. In this powerful biography, Mary Walton captures Paul's fervent passion, as well as her canny understanding of the importance of public opinion. Walton doesn't shy away from the harsh realities that the suffragists faced in their quest, proving that far from being "given" the vote, women had to win it, step by painful step.

Suffragists in Washington, D.C.

The 1913 Parade and the Fight for the Vote

Suffragists in Washington, D.C.

The 1913 Parade and the Fight for the Vote

Written by: Rebecca Boggs Roberts
Recommended Age: Adults

By 1913, despite sixty years of grueling work by suffragists, only six states allowed women to vote. Then Alice Paul came to Washington, D.C., with a bold plan: a Great Suffrage Parade, right down Pennsylvania Avenue, the day before Woodrow Wilson's inauguration. Paul's demonstration marked the beginning of a more aggressive strategy that divided the women's suffrage movement, and even resulted in suffrage protesters being thrown in jail and beaten. But these tactics would eventually lead to victory: the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment was seven years away. This narrative telling of the final years of the suffrage struggle is a testament to the power of protest and the will of determined women.

The Woman's Hour

The Great Fight to Win the Vote

The Woman's Hour

The Great Fight to Win the Vote

Written by: Elaine Weiss
Recommended Age: Adults

This real-life political thriller tells the story of the nail-biting climax of one of the greatest political battles in American history: the ratification of the constitutional amendment that granted women the right to vote. In August 1920, 35 states have ratified the Nineteenth Amendment, twelve have rejected or refused to vote, and one last state is needed — after a seven-decade long crusade, the future of women's suffrage comes down to Tennessee. Over one hot summer, opposing forces converge on the state for a vicious face-off replete with dirty tricks, bigotry, and betrayals. Following a handful of remarkable women who led their respective forces into battle, The Woman's Hour is the inspiring story of activists winning their own freedom in one of the last campaigns forged in the shadow of the Civil War, and the beginning of the great twentieth-century battles for civil rights.

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