How Women Won the Vote: Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, and Their Big Idea
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Susan Campbell Bartoletti's How Women Won the Vote: Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, and Their Big Idea focuses on two women and two pivotal events in the struggle to gain American women the right to vote. Alice Paul and Lucy Burns meet in a London police station after being arrested for participating in a suffrage march. When they come back to America, they team up to organize a huge parade the day before the 1913 inauguration of President Woodrow Wilson. It would draw thousands of women marchers to Washington D.C. but not change the president's views opposing a woman's right to vote. In 1917, Alice and Lucy join women picketing outside the White House. The picketers are arrested and jailed, but they persist until Wilson finally endorses the 19th Amendment. While their movement was peaceful, suffragists were often treated violently. The book is forthright but never graphic about women being beaten, punched, kicked, clubbed, spat on and force fed by jailers.
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What's the Story?
HOW WOMEN WON THE VOTE begins in 1909 in a London police station. Among the women under arrest for marching on Parliament to demand the vote for women are two young Americans, Alice Paul and Lucy Burns. When they return to America, they continue speaking out for a woman's right to vote and discover they make a great team. In 1912, they come up with a big idea: the largest and best suffrage parade the country has ever seen. It takes place on March 3, 1913, the day before the inauguration of President Woodrow Wilson. Some 250,000 people line Pennsylvania Avenue to watch, as 5,000 woman along with floats, bands, and mounted brigades prepare to march. But the day turns violent almost as soon as the parade begins. Mobs start attacking the marchers. "Girls," yells Alice, "get out your hat pins." With few police on hand, it's Boy Scouts who come to their rescue and force the attackers back to the curb before the cavalry finally arrives from nearby Ft. Meyer. The parade continues, but its strong message doesn't change the mind of the new president. He's still opposed to women getting the vote. When Wilson's second term begins in 1917, Alice and Lucy join the women who've begun picketing outside the White House. In June, police begin arresting the picketers. They're sent to jail and to a workhouse and often beaten by guards. Lucy has her hands shackled to an overhead iron bar, Alice is sent to a psychiatric ward, and both are force-fed by guards. But as soon as picketers are released, they come back to the street outside the White House. In January 1918, Wilson announces he's changed his mind. The women have won. Congress goes onto pass the 19th Amendment giving vote to women, and after being ratified by 36 states, it becomes law in August 1920.
Is It Any Good?
This lively and engaging look at final years of the suffrage movement has its heroes but doesn't shy away from exposing racism that existed in the movement. The bright colors and dozens of archival photos in How Women Won the Vote will bring the story alive even for the most reluctant readers of history books. Many of the photos give readers a real sense of "being there" -- a tired-looking Alice jailed in a workhouse, women waving to supporters from their prison cell windows, Inez Milholland astride the white horse she rode at the head of the parade, women picketing outside the White House on a cold winter day.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the qualities they most admire in the women whose stories are told in How Women Won the Vote. Is there someone you know (a family member, friend, or teacher) who has some of these same qualities?
Are there ways you think girls and women are still being treated as second class citizens? What do you think should be done about it?
If you organized a parade in support of a cause, what would it be? What kind of things would you want in your parade -- floats, banners, animals? How would you promote your parade?
- Author: Susan Campbell Bartoletti
- Genre: History
- Topics: Activism, Great Girl Role Models, History
- Book type: Non-Fiction
- Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
- Publication date: May 19, 2020
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 80
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 26, 2022
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