Chapel Hill, North Carolina: Algonquin Young Readers, 2018
Conkling, Winigred. Votes for Women: American Suffragists and the Battle for the Ballot. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: Algonquin Young Readers, 2018.
Just in time for Women’s History Month in March comes Votes for Women, a history of suffrage in the United States, told from the points of view of the women who led the 78-year struggle resulting in the 19th Amendment. Conkling tells the stories of the likes of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Strong, Sojourner Truth, and Victoria Woodhull, among others, in a more complete context than some other titles on women’s suffrage. Conkling writes about them as real people dealing with the pressures of family life and contemporary social norms while working for their cause among the competing priorities of temperance and emancipation.
Students might be shocked to learn that in the mid-19th century, women living in the land of the free were not legally entitled to own property. The could not keep their own wages, vote for their government representation or laws, or conduct their own business. Even public speaking was off-limits until suffragists broke the mold.
Conkling skillfully introduces the players, seamlessly plugging them into the narrative and changing points of view as they enter the stage. There are detailed captions with photographs of key players throughout this book. Examples of political cartoons, posters, lithographs, and more are included throughout. Resources at the end include a list of Key Primary Sources, a timeline, books as sources and additional reading, websites, and extensive notes. This is a must-have for middle school and high school collections, and is suitable for research and reports. Conkling has produced the sort of top-notch nonfiction that students and teachers alike will want to read.
Dewey: 976 Interest Level: Grades 7-12
Reviews and Awards:
Kirkus Reviews starred, Publishers Weekly starred, School Library Journal.
Younger readers might like: The Taxing Case of the Cows: A True Story About Suffrage by Iris Van Rynback, (illus. Emily Arnold McCully).
Middle grade readers might like: Suffrage Sisters: The Fight for Liberty by Margaret R. Mead, (Illus.) Siri Weber Feeney. (Reader’s theater format).
Fiction paring: The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters
On the Web:
When American Feminists Were Pilloried for Daring to Wear Boomers. Atlas Obsura athttps://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/when-american-feminists-were-pilloried-for-daring-to-wear-bloomers.
Library of Congress Primary Source Set: Women’s Suffrage. Primary sources, LOC-style athttp://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/primarysourcesets/womens-suffrage/
National Constitution Center – Clear explanations and debate on the origins and effects of the Constitution and its Amendments. Find it at https://constitutioncenter.org/.
The American History Museum website has images of artifacts from the fight for women’s suffrage athttp://americanhistory.si.edu/treasures/womens-suffrage.