Understanding Women’s Suffrage: Tennessee’s Perfect 36

This Understanding Women’s Suffrage: Tennessee’s Perfect 36 unit also includes:

Tennessee was the pivotal state in ratifying women's suffrage in 1920, with its vote coming down to one man: Harry Burn, a 24-year old state representative who changed his nay to an aye on the advice of his mother. Learn more about Representative Burn and the passionate movements for and against women's suffrage with a resource focused on Tennessee's role in granting American women the right to vote.

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CCSS: Adaptable
Instructional Ideas

  • Encourage groups to conduct research on their own state's contribution or opposition to the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment
  • Have pupils write a letter to Representative Harry Burn expressing their opinion on his vote
Classroom Considerations

  • The resource is based on a viewing of an exhibit at the Tennessee State Museum, but is easily adapted for the classroom; in particular, you will need to find the images listed in the primary source analysis online, or project larger version of the provided thumbnails
  • Though the lesson features Tennessee politics and history, it folds into any state's study of women's suffrage
  • The role-play activity encourages learners to take the sides of both pro and anti-suffragists, so you may want to establish a protocol for respectful language beforehand
  • Songs from the CD are readily available online through an independent search

  • Provides a counterargument to a right that many may consider a foregone conclusion based on the rights available to them now
  • Supplies all necessary worksheets and reading materials

  • None