Susan B. Anthony Background Information for Teachers and Parents
This page contains information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about Susan B. Anthony, women’s rights, and suffrage. The information is designed to complement the BrainPOP Jr. movie Susan B. Anthony. It explains the type of content covered in the movie, provides ideas for how teachers and parents can develop related understandings, and suggests how other BrainPOP Jr. resources can be used to scaffold and extend student learning.
Help your children explore the lives of key figures who changed history and increase their understanding of how life in the past was dramatically different than it is today. This movie will explore the life of the civil rights leader Susan B. Anthony and her role in the women’s rights movement. It will discuss how she advocated equal rights and fair treatment and stood up for her beliefs.
Susan B. Anthony was born on February 15, 1820 near Adams, Massachusetts. She grew up in a Quaker family. Tell your children that Quakers are members of a Christian group that supports equal rights for all people and believes in living simple, peaceful lives. Susan’s father, Daniel Anthony, was an abolitionist, which is a person who works to end slavery. He often held anti-slavery meetings in their home. Susan’s mother, Lucy Read, was an activist who had attended the 1848 Women’s Rights Convention in Rochester, New York. As a child, Susan learned to read from a very early age and excelled in school. When a teacher refused to explain long division to Susan because of her gender, Susan’s father pulled her out of the school and put her in a group home school.
Susan’s family owned a cotton mill, and occasionally young Susan worked to manufacture cotton. She balked at the fact that she earned less than her male counterparts. At the time, women earned a quarter of the pay for doing the same jobs. Susan was also upset that skilled women laborers at the mill were not promoted to managerial positions. Though her father was quite liberal in his views, even he believed that certain jobs were inappropriate for women.
At sixteen, Susan spoke out against slavery and collected the names of people who wanted to abolish it. When she was in her late twenties, Anthony spoke out against alcohol abuse and encouraged temperance. Explain to your children that temperance is the act of drinking little or no alcohol. Anthony wrote pamphlets and articles and gave speeches promoting abstinence from alcohol.
In 1865, slavery was finally abolished in the United States. However, African-Americans and women still did not have the same rights as white men. Women and most blacks could not own property or vote. Anthony demanded suffrage, or the right to vote, for all people. She and other suffragists traveled the country and made speeches. She started a newspaper called The Revolution, which demanded equal rights and fair treatment to all people regardless of race or gender. In 1870, African-Americans won the right to vote, but women were still not allowed to elect their leaders. Anthony began focusing her efforts on women’s suffrage.
Anthony cast her ballot in the 1872 presidential election,, claiming that voting was a civil right protected under the Constitution. Two weeks later she was arrested. Ultimately she was fined $100, which she promised to never pay, and never did. Anthony continued working for women’s suffrage, traveling the country making speeches and writing articles. She was met with much ridicule and was the subject of many negative political cartoons. Still she continued her fight for equal rights. By 1900, a few states allowed women to vote. Susan B. Anthony died on March 13, 1906, before all women had the right to elect their government leaders.
The women’s rights movements continued, and finally in 1920 the Nineteenth Amendment passed, giving all women the right to vote. It is sometimes called the Susan B. Anthony amendment to honor her hard work and her beliefs. Help your children understand the importance of standing up for their beliefs and making their thoughts and ideas heard. What might life be like today if Susan B. Anthony remained quiet about the injustices she saw? What if she had not spoken out or debated with people who hold dissenting opinions?