Suffrage: What Did You Learn from History?

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They are an incredibly brilliant couple. One is studying some kind of computer engineering. The other is now pursuing a degree in medicine. Both are in fields with labels so advanced I can't even recall the titles.

They hadn't seen Too Late to Apologize: A Declaration (a example of a parody infinitely better than the original). From there we linked to Bad Romance: Women's Suffrage video.* [NB: Like the original Bad Romance, this video has some less-than-happy imagery. Please preview it before showing children.]

As the video came to a close, she said, "That probably would have been more engaging if we knew more about that part of history."

I agreed. The characters in the Declaration of Independence are well-known. But the women portraying the suffrage movement were not familiar faces. "But," I said, "you know some of the history, right?"

They both looked at me blankly. "We know there was an amendment," she said.

He nodded. "They didn't teach us more than that in school."

It was my turn to consider. In my high school and college American History classes, did we ever discuss this part of history? Not that I recall.


These are the times I wish I had been able to use Sonlight's high school programs. Core 300 tackles suffrage and more. If you've used Core 300, did you recognize what was going on in the video?

As usual, I wanted to learn more. So I started digging. I clicked over to the video creators' page about suffrage but found little useful information. Most of it, in fact, was so "classroomified" that it numbed my brain. So I pulled out Sonlight's incredibly accessible biography on the subject, but I haven't had time to read the whole thing (let alone discuss it, which is often the best part).

The things that are currently bumping around in the back of my mind:

  • People use God to promote all kinds of bad ideas. This is certainly not new. Christ took issue with the religious scholars of His day who did much the same. This should be humbling to us today who, for various reasons, presume to have it all figured out. May we humbly follow Him and not simply our traditions!
  • I think it's ironic that Congress shut down women's right to vote in Utah after the government's attempt to reduce polygamy by that method failed. To read more about how/why women support polygamy, check out the fascinating National Geographic article The Polygamists.
  • I'm becoming more and more curious about the shifts and twists within the Republican and Democratic parties over the years. In the last century, things have changed that make the voting records strange for us today. Since keeping a humble attitude before God when it comes to our interpretation of Scripture is important to me, I'm not big on "voting a party line" either. Definitely something to keep learning about.
  • There is so much more to learn about history. But I like that even YouTube videos can spark an interest. As life-long learners, there are so many opportunities to discover more!

What did you learn about women's suffrage in school? Any knowledge-acquisition-inspiring videos you've seen recently you'd care to share?

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester

*I don't know what it is about Lady Gaga, but Bad Romance seems particularly useful for teaching history. I blogged about Revolution in France two and a half years ago.

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