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Tools for Educators

Abolition: The Catalyst for the Women’s Rights Movement

Lesson Overview

This lesson examines the beginnings of the women’s suffrage movement as an outgrowth of the abolitionist movement. Students will learn about key figures who were involved in both movements and analyze primary source documents to compare abolitionist and women’s suffrage arguments. Utah history connections are provided by students examining the rights of Utah women in the 19th century in comparison to women in the East. Students will learn about how social movements spark new movements and how arguments made for and against the expansion of rights are similar regardless of time period.

Recommended Instructional Time: 1-2 class sessions

Historical Background for Educators

Key Utah State Standards Addressed

Learning Objectives

Guiding Questions

  • Who were the key figures in both the abolitionist and suffrage movements? Why did many abolitionists become suffragists?
  • What were the similarities and differences between the two movements?
  • What were the arguments for first focusing on voting rights for African-American men before the voting rights of women?
  • How did the rights of Utah women compare to the rights of other American women?



(noun) the legal ending of slavery

Many people worked for the abolition of slaves.


(noun) a person who supported the ending of slavery in the United States

Angelina Grimke and Sojourner Truth were abolitionists who fought to end slavery.


(verb) to free a person from someone else’s power

Anti-polygamists wanted to emancipate women in polygamous marriages.


(n) the right to vote

The 19th Amendment granted the franchise to women.

(v) to give the right to vote

The 19th Amendment franchised women.




(noun) A marriage system in which a person is married to more than one person at a time.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints practiced polygamy, in which some husbands had more than one living wife.


(noun) The right to vote in a political election

During the women’s suffrage movement, women fought for and won the right to vote in political elections.


(noun) a person who worked to get voting rights for women

Suffragists fought for women’s voting rights.

Materials Needed





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