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Primary Sources: Maine Women's Causes and Influence before 1920

Brittany Cook, Maine Historical Society, Cumberland County



  • Social Studies -- Civics & Government
  • Social Studies -- History

4-5 days

  • 1775-1850
  • 1851-1920
  • Civics & Citizenship

This lesson plan will give students the opportunity to read and analyze letters, literature, and other primary documents and articles of material culture from the MHS collections relating to the women of Maine between the end of the Revolutionary War through the national vote for women’s suffrage in 1920. Students will discuss issues including war relief (Civil War and World War I), suffrage, abolition, and temperance, and how the women of Maine mobilized for or in some cases helped to lead these movements.

  • Students will analyze and draw conclusions from primary source documents.
  • Students will look at the efforts of Maine women compared to those on a national level.
  • Students will be able to articulate the importance of causes like abolition and temperance in Maine history, with relation to how women became politically active in support of such causes prior to having the ability to vote.
  • Students will compare arguments between pro-suffrage and anti-suffrage groups in Maine and the tactics used to spread each message.
  • Students will look at the history of Maine women’s contributions to health care at a state, national, and international level between 1783-1920.
  • Students will be able to understand that these movements and strides, however revolutionary, were also limited – mostly to white women.

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A resource developed by Maine Historical Society with support from Jane's Trust