Students Investigate the 19th Amendment’s Influence on the 1920 Election

This post is by Amanda Campbell, an undergraduate student at University of Memphis and a 2019 Library of Congress Junior Fellow.

New-York tribune., August 19, 1920

The 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote was ratified on Aug. 18, 1920. The next morning, New York Tribune ran a front page story entitled “Woman Vote Expected to Aid Harding.” The article contains a series of predictions for the November 1920 Presidential and Congressional elections based on predictions from “political Washington” about these new voters.

Read the article with your students and reflect with the following questions:

  • What caught your attention in this article?
  • What assumptions do you think the author and predictors made when thinking about women’s suffrage?
  • Who or what are you curious about after reading this article?

After your initial engagement with this article, invite your students to research which of the predictions made in the article came true. Consider the following questions to spark discussion after your students have investigated the actual election results:

  • Why do you think some of the predictions did not come true?
  • Why do you think some did?
  • How could we find out more about the author or the election?

Another way to engage your students with newspaper articles is by examining how the many articles on a single page or in a single issue interact. Students may notice that no less than four articles on the front page of this issue relate to the ratification of the 19th Amendment and that on page 2 of this newspaper, an article entitled “Suffragists Here See New Opportunity” appears. This article, and the article entitled “Woman Vote Expected to Aid Harding” each grapple with the future of the electorate–now 27 million votes larger. Invite your students to read both of these articles and then to consider how they could find out more information about the 1920 election.

The Library of Congress’s Chronicling America is a fully searchable database of American newspapers from 1789-1963. Students can search for other key words related to women’s suffrage in their area newspapers from the early 20th century to see what was reported in their towns before and after the 19th Amendment was passed.

Share your findings with us in the comments below!

 

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