The National Archives at New York City

Teachable Texts from the National Archives at New York City

Susan B. Anthony and the Struggle for Suffrage

Description

Susan B. Anthony devoted more than fifty years of her life to the cause of woman suffrage. After casting her ballot in the 1872 Presidential election in her hometown of Rochester, New York, she was arrested, indicted, tried, and convicted for voting illegally. At her two-day trial in June 1873, which she later described as "the greatest judicial outrage history has ever recorded," she was convicted and sentenced to pay a fine of $100 and court costs.

After Anthony's arrest, which occurred two weeks after the November 5 election, there was a hearing to determine if she had, in fact, broken the law. The three young men who registered her as a voter on November 1, 1872, and accepted her ballot at the polls on Election Day were interviewed at the hearing.

(Information cited from Eyewitness: American Originals from the National Archives)

Documents

U.S vs. Susan B. Anthony, Indictment for Illegal Voting, 01/24/1873
Susan B. Anthony Criminal Case File, 01/1873 - 07/1873
Criminal Cases Heard in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, compiled 1870 - 1968
Record Group 21: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685 - 2004
National Archives Identifier 278295

  

U.S. vs. Susan B. Anthony, Exhibit B, a transcript of the hearing including examination of witnesses
by the defense and prosecution atorneys, and Susan B. Anthony's testimony in her own defense
Susan B. Anthony Criminal Case File, 01/1873 - 07/1873
Criminal Cases Heard in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, compiled 1870 - 1968
Record Group 21: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685 - 2004
National Archives Identifier 278300


U.S. vs. Susan B. Anthony, Record of Conviction, 06/28/1873
Susan B. Anthony Criminal Case File, 01/1873 - 07/1873
Criminal Cases Heard in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, compiled 1870 - 1968
Record Group 21: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685 - 2004
National Archives Identifier 278304


Discussion Questions:

  • According to the indictment, for what crime was Susan B. Anthony being charged?
  • According to the transcript, how did Susan B. Anthony protest her lack of suffrage? How does it compare and contrast to other protesters in history?
  • How did Susan B. Anthony specifically justify her claim to suffrage, according to the testimony of Beverly Jones?
  • How would you describe Susan B. Anthony's own testimony? How does she describe her reasoning for voting?

Extension Activities

  • Connections to Today: Beyond voting rights, what are other rights and freedoms that women have fought and continue to struggle to achieve?
  • Sequencing Skill: Make a timeline that lists the 10 most important events in the suffrage movement between the Seneca Falls Convention and the passage of the 19th Amendment. Explain your choices.
  • Creative Writing Activity: Using information from this case, write a journal entry from the point of view of Susan B. Anthony or one of the other participants. How do you think they felt about the facts of the case?

Standards

    National History Standards
  • Era 7: The Emergence of Modern America (1890-1930)
    • Standard 1C: The student understands the limitations of Progressivism and the alternatives offered by various groups.
    NY Standards
  • SS1.C.1. The study of New York State and United States history requires an analysis of the development of American culture, its diversity and multicultural context, and the ways people are unified by many values, practices, and traditions.
  • SS1.C.3. Study about the major social, political, economic, cultural, and religious developments in New York State and United States history involves learning about the important roles and contributions of individuals and groups.
    NJ Standards
  • 6.1.12.A.6.b Evaluate the ways in which women organized to promote government policies (i.e., abolition, women's suffrage, and the temperance movement) designed to address injustice, inequality, workplace safety, and immorality.
  • 6.1.12.D.6.c Analyze the successes and failures of efforts to expand women's rights, including the work of important leaders (i.e., Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, and Lucy Stone) and the eventual ratification of the 19th Amendment.

Additional Resources:


If a teacher finds unique and effective ways to use these documents in their classroom and would like to share them with other teachers, please contact christopher.zarr@nara.gov

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