K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

Lucy Gwynne Branham in Occoquan prison dress, 1919

Lucy Gwynne Branham, here in an Occoquan prison dress, was among the many National Woman’s Party activists who were arrested and imprisoned for their role in suffrage protests. Photograph from the Records of the National Woman’s Party collection. American Memory, Library of Congress.

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  • Women, then and now: In this lesson, students will analyze images and a home demonstration pamphlet, a Cooperative Extension Work document from the Green 'N' Growing collection at Special Collections Research Center at North Carolina State University Libraries. The primary sources will help students assess the roles, opportunities, and achievements of women beginning in 1950.
  • Exploring first-person female narratives related to Sherman's march to the sea: This lesson plan uses first-person narratives from the Documenting the American South collection to demonstrate differences in perspective related to historical events, in this case, Sherman's march to the sea. It encourages students to compare the views of two southern ladies with that of a Union soldier.
  • Grooming in 1930s North Carolina: Using primary source materials, this lesson plan provides a glimpse into the lives of girls and women from the 1930s and will give students the opportunity to study what was considered attractive for the time, how the Depression affected grooming practices, and the universal concept of healthful living.

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No matter where you look in our rich history, from the front lines photographing the realities of war to the front lines at home struggling for equal rights, you will find the contributions of women. LEARN NC has selected resources from our collections to help your students learn about these contributions, whether you’re celebrating Women’s History Month (every March) or giving your students a place to start their research on women’s suffrage. Find lesson plans, websites, and articles to help your students learn about the achievements and experiences of women as mothers and wives, as scientists and inventors, and as writers and heads of state. The list is endless.

Lesson plans

My Favorite Women/Great Aunt Arizona
These three (or four) 45-minute lessons will introduce Kindergarteners and first graders to “Women’s History Month.” The students listen to the story of author Gloria Houston’s great-aunt, Arizona Houston Hughes. During and following the listening and viewing experiences, the students will discuss their experiences with women in their own history who are helping them become good citizens and grow up well. (Grades K-1)
How Do I Look to You?
In this lesson, students will evaluate public service posters and a grooming pamphlet to determine if and how propaganda was used to improve the health of children, and define acceptable appearances for young women in the 1930s. (Grades 5-8 and 11)
“For What Is a Mother Responsible?” — Idealized Motherhood vs. the Realities of Motherhood in Antebellum North Carolina
In this lesson for grade 8, students analyze a newspaper article about motherhood from a North Carolina newspaper in 1845 and compare it to descriptions of motherhood from other contemporary sources. Students will also compare these antebellum descriptions to the modern debates over mothers’ roles in American society. (Grade 8)
“A Female Raid” in 1863: Using Newspaper Coverage to Learn About North Carolina’s Civil War Homefront
In this lesson plan, students will use original newspaper coverage to learn about a raid on local stores by Confederate soldier’s wives in March 1863 in Salisbury, North Carolina, and use that historical moment to explore conscription, life on the homefront, economic issues facing North Carolina merchants, the challenges of wartime politics, and the role of newspaper editors in shaping public opinion. (Grades 8 and 11)
Women of the South in a Changing Society
This lesson examines the lives of women in Southern Appalachia and other areas of the south during the Civil War and focuses particular attention on analyzing the historical stereotypes of women of the 19th-century. (Grade 11)
North Carolina Women and the Progressive Movement
This lesson includes primary sources from Documenting the American South specifically related to North Carolina women involved in reform movements characteristic of the Progressive era. For the most part, these documents detail women’s work in education-related reform and describe the creation of schools for women in the state. They also demonstrate that, as was true in the rest of the nation, the progressive, female reformers of N.C. were segregated based on race and socio-economic status. (Grades 11-12)
Suffrage: The Changing Role of Women
In this lesson, students use oral history excerpts and photographs to learn about the women’s suffrage movement in the United States from a variety of perspectives. (Grades 11-12)
Women, Then and Now
In this lesson, students will analyze images and a home demonstration pamphlet, a Cooperative Extension Work document from the Green ‘N’ Growing collection at Special Collections Research Center at North Carolina State University Libraries. The primary sources will help students assess the roles, opportunities, and achievements of women beginning in 1950. (Grades 11–12)

More lesson plans about women

Student readings

From North Carolina Digital History, our “digital textbook,” students can read about famous and not-so-famous women and their roles in our state’s history.

The Edenton “Tea Party”
In October 1774, several prominent women of Edenton gathered at the home of Elizabeth King, with Penelope Barker presiding, to sign a petition supporting the American cause. This letter describing the event, which came to be known as the Edenton Tea Party, appeared in a London newspaper. Includes historical commentary.
Mary Slocumb at Moore’s Creek Bridge
Story, perhaps fictional or embellished, of the heroism of Mary (Polly) Slocumb, who tended Patriot wounded after the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge in 1776. Includes historical commentary.
Gertrude Weil

Biography of Gertrude Weil (1879–1971) of Goldsboro, who led the fight for women’s suffrage in North Carolina.
A textile mill worker’s family

WPA interview with a mill worker in Wake Forest, North Carolina, about her experiences during the Great Depression. Includes historical commentary.
Lillian Exum Clement
Biography of Lillian Exum Clement, the first woman elected to the North Carolina General Assembly.
Charlotte Hawkins Brown
Charlotte Hawkins Brown (1883–1961) founded the Palmer Memorial Institute, a school for African Americans, and devoted her life to the improvement of the African American community’s social standing.
The women’s movement
A brief history of the women’s movement of the 1960s and 1970s, including equal opportunity, reproductive issues, and the Equal Rights Amendment.

More student readings about women as well as images of women from North Carolina Digital History.


Celebrating Women’s History Month
From Gale Publishing, a collection of activities and biographies about women in history. Includes a quiz about women and their achievements, a timeline of significant events, and updated information on the 2010 National Women’s History Project, which honors women in the environmental movement.
American Women: A Gateway to the Library of Congress Resources for the Study of Women’s History and Culture in the United States
A companion of the print publication “American Women: A Library of Congress Guide for the Study of Women’s History and Culture in the United States” and a gateway to the Library of Congress’s multimedia resources related to women such as manuscripts, recorded sounds, moving images, and maps.
Women of Our Time
From the National Portrait Gallery, photographic portraits and biographical information on some of America’s famous and influential women. The site also includes information on the styles of artists and their views regarding portraiture.
Three Hundred Women Who Changed the World
Encyclopedia Britannica offers this extensive site with biographies of women who made their mark in history. The site differs from many similar sites in that it includes information about women whose impact wasn’t necessarily positive, as well as those who changed the world for the better. Video and audio recordings are available, including many recordings of the women themselves.
“Votes for Women” Suffrage Pictures, 1850-1920
The Library of Congress’ American Memory provides this website about the campaign for women’s suffrage in the U.S. The site features portraits of leaders in the movement, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Julia Ward Howe, and Mary Church Terrell. The collection also highlights images of suffrage parades and women picketing for the right to vote.
Women Come to the Front: Journalists, Photographers, and Broadcasters During World War II
Eight women journalists, photographers, and broadcasters of World War II and their works are featured on this site. There are links to other important sites, including the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Additionally, there is a list of accredited women correspondents from the World War II period.

More websites about women