Susan B. Anthony, Activist

6, 7, 8

This lesson is designed to expnd awareness about the famous suffragist Susan B. Anthony. Although she is best known for this role, she was active in six different causes as an abolitionist, educational reformer, labor activist, temperance worker, suffragist, and women's rights campaigner.

PrintOne 45-Minute Session

The learner will:

  • defend the importance of hearing all voices in a democratic society.
  • identify why Susan B. Anthony undertook various causes as her life's work.

Copies of Notes on Susan B. Anthony (handout)


Susan B. Anthony Museum & House


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Ask the young people to name current issues that affect their school, community, or world. This may range from bullying to pollution to social justice. You could write their ideas in columns or restrict the brainstorming to a specific area, such as our state or our playground. The idea is to widen the thinking about improvements we could make and getting a sense about what we care about.

  2. Split the youth into six groups.

    Divide the Notes on Susan B. Anthony (handout) according to roles (abolitionist, educational reformer, labor activist, temperance worker, suffragist, and women's rights campaigner). Give each group their information and ask them to read the material and prepare a short two-minute presentation on Susan B. Anthony's experiences in the role. They may supplement with Internet research.

    After a 10 minutes, let the groups report on their information. 

  3. Discuss the activist roles that she assumed and why she was drawn to take those causes. Discuss what difficulties women encountered when they wanted to be heard on the issues.

    Relate to today's issues and different ways we make change. Discuss the importance of the voices of all to be heard in society. What voices might not be heard in today's society? 

  4. What did Anthony mean when she said that without the vote women would not be taken seriously? Why is voting important for each person? 

  5. Exit ticket: Write one current issue you would like to see addressed. What is the next right thing to do?


Using their notes or research information, ask youth to write about three roles that Anthony assumed and explain what she did to actively influence each cause. 

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Describe the importance of hearing all voices in a community and respecting their right to be heard.
      2. Benchmark MS.5 Discuss examples of groups denied their rights in history.
    2. Standard PCS 06. Philanthropy in History
      1. Benchmark MS.5 Identify positive philanthropic historic acts or events that helped build the community, state, and nation.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Identify and describe the actions of how citizens act for the common good.