Teachers

Teaching With Documents:
Petition of Amelia Bloomer Regarding Suffrage in the West

Teaching Activities

Standards Correlations

This lesson correlates to the National History Standards.

  • Era 4 -Expansion and Reform (1801-1861)
    • Standard 4C -Demonstrate understanding of changing gender roles and the ideas and activities of women reformers.

This lesson correlates to the National Standards for Civics and Government.

  • Standard III.E.1. -Evaluate, take and defend positions about how the public agenda is set.
  • Standard V.E.3. --Evaluate, take and defend positions about the means that citizens should use to monitor and influence the formation and implementation of public policy.

Constitutional Connection

This lesson relates to the expression of First Amendment rights, including speech and petition, to the expansion of suffrage by means of the 19th Amendment, and to the amendment process described in Article V.

Cross-curricular Connections

Share this assignment with colleagues who teach government, history, and any course that requires students to learn research skills using Internet sources and primary sources.

Activities

  1. Distribute the copy of the petition Amelia Bloomer wrote to Congress or assign students to locate it using the Online Catalog database and copies of a biographical entry for Bloomer such as the one in Notable American Women. Direct students to read the petition. Instruct students to complete this in-class writing assignment : Write an epitaph for Amelia Jenks Bloomer. The epitaph should capture Bloomer's role as a reformer of American political culture.

  2. Discuss with students the factors of political socialization: family, peers, education, media, and specific events. Assign students to read one or more of the following: (a.) the appropriate assignments in the standard text, such as "Civil Rights and Public Policy" or the section of an American history text that deals with 19th century reforms; (b.) the Historical Background section of this article; or (c.) the entry for Amelia Jenks Bloomer found in Notable American Women. In class, ask students to complete this assignment: Draw an image (cartoon or graphic) that depicts the factors of political socialization that affected Mrs. Bloomer. Allow 10 minutes. Allow students to exchange drawings and identify and discuss the factors of political socialization that they believe led Amelia Bloomer into a role as a reformer.

  3. Ask students to examine Bloomer's petition and U.S. history and U.S. government texts to identify the various issues that were competing to be on the public agenda in the first half and the last half of the 1800s. Ask students to self-select teams of four students each: Team A to research U. S. history texts for the early 1800s; Team B to research U.S. government texts for the early 1800s; Team C to research U.S. history texts for the late 1800s; Team D to research U. S. Government texts for the late 1800s. Ask students to create a database that shows their findings. The data should include the role of political leaders, role of political institutions, role of political parties, role of interest groups, role of the media, and role of individual citizens. Submit the database to be added to those available to students for research in the school library.

  4. Assign students, working in teams, this research project: Create an annotated webliography of sources (a bibliography of Web sites) about Amelia Bloomer that would be useful to study the role of political reformers. Students must use three different types of search tools to locate information on Amelia Bloomer. One must be a search engine, such as Infoseek; the second must be a metadata search engine, such as Webcrawler; the third must be a subject directory such as Librarians' Index to the Internet. The entries in the webliography must be annotated bibliographical citations that follow the format that MLA provides for online sources. The annotations should provide information that helps a reader understand the value of the site, such as the authority of the author, the point of view of the site, and the frequency that the site is updated. In class, direct teams to exchange annotated webliographies and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each.

  5. Maintain the student teams that constructed the annotated webliographies (activity 4). Direct each team to write a dialogue in which two community college professors discuss the role that Amelia Bloomer played in the reform themes of the 19th century. Teams should draft and revise dialogues out of class, taking care to follow MLA standards of documentation. Ask one representative from each group to play the part of scholarly expert on the reformer, and conduct a panel discussion with questions from the audience.

  6. Supervise students as they complete this assignment as a long-term, out-of-class exam project. Ask students to select one of these options: (a.) Design an exhibit to showcase the role that Amelia Bloomer or another reformer played in the 19th century; (b.) Write a script for an audiotape that will showcase her role as a reformer in the 19th century. The script must be documented, following MLA standards. After completing the script, record it, using as many sound effects as appropriate to convey the message of her role; (c.) Create a web page for Amelia Bloomer or another woman reformer.

The document included in this project is from Record Group 233, Records of the United States House of Representatives. It is available online through the Online Catalog (OPA) National Archives Identifier: (place number here).

The Online Catalog (OPA) replaces its prototypes, the Archival Research Catalog (ARC) and NARA Archival Information Locator (NAIL). You can still perform a keyword, digitized image and location search. The online catalog's advanced functionalities also allow you to search by organization, person, or topic.

The online catalog is a searchable database that contains information about a wide variety of NARA holdings across the country. You can use the online catalog to search record descriptions by keywords or topics and retrieve digital copies of selected textual documents, photographs, maps, and sound recordings related to thousands of topics.

Currently, about 80% of NARA's vast holdings have been described in the online catalog. Thousands of digital images can be searched in the online catalog. In keeping with NARA's Strategic Plan, the percentage of holdings described in the online catalog will grow continually.

Additional documents related to woman suffrage are available in the online catalog Database. Try searching in the online catalog using keywords such as "Elizabeth Cady Stanton," "Susan B. Anthony," and " Lucy Stone."

This article was written by Linda Simmons, an associate professor at Northern Virginia Community College in Manassas, VA.

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The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
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