Susan B. Anthony Study Guide

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Written and performed by Cathy Kaemmerlen


Program Description

This program is a one-woman portrayal of Susan B. Anthony, known as Susan B.,  whose life-long fight for women’s suffrage led to our nineteenth amendment, granting women the right to vote. The amendment did not pass until 1920, 14 years after her death.  The program centers on Susan B’s trial of 1872 in which she voted for U.S. Grant for president, testing the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments and whether or not women had the right to vote.  Students and teachers participate in the trial and events in her life’s work by playing parts and learning of her struggles and triumphs. She inspired many women by using the motto:  Failure is impossible.

Artist Bio

Cathy Kaemmerlen, author, actress, historical interpreter, playwright, and storyteller, is known for her variety of characters, one-woman shows, and for bringing history to life.  A performer and “creator of shows” since she can remember, she has toured in schools coast to coast, since receiving a BA in English/elementary education from UNC-Charlotte, and a MFA in dance performance/choreography/theatre at the University of Wisconsin.  She tours some 20 current shows which she wrote, through the Georgia and South Carolina Touring Arts Rosters, Fulton County Teaching Museums, G.E.T. Programs in the Schools, and through her own production company, Tattlingtales Productions. She is the author of four books and many plays, including one commissioned by the DeKalb Historical Society. Most recently she was commissioned by the Plains Chautauqua Society to write and appear in the one-woman show:  The Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail..

Background of Art Form
Telling stories is an oral tradition, dating back to when mankind first developed a language or form of communication.  Storytelling is a universal way of passing down information to be saved and remembered for generations to come.  It is an interactive art form in which the storytellers’ passion for the story, material, and information is passed on to the audience, who sorts through, stores, and synthesizes what is heard.

Prepare:  Teachers, please read this to your students.

Students, today we are going to have a performance by an actress/storyteller and author named Cathy Kaemmerlen who is going to portray Susan B. Anthony who worked her whole life towards giving women the constitutional right to vote.  Although our Constitution was written in 1787, women did not have the right to vote until 1920 with the passage of the 19th amendment, called the Susan B. Anthony Amendment.  Ms. Anthony did not live to see this day, although she voted in the 1872 presidential election and was brought to trial for unlawfully voting.  We will participate in this trial and learn more about the life, times, struggles and triumphs of Susan B. Anthony.  Her motto was:  Failure is impossible.

Warm up Questions to set the stage for engaging students and questions to reflect on

–Why do you think it took so long for women to get the right to vote?

–What do you think helped change the mind of our country and legislators?

–What would it be like to spend your whole life working for a single cause?

–Do you think women should be allowed to have the same jobs as men?

–Do you think women should be granted the same pay as men for the same job?

–What do you think Susan B. Anthony’s life-time work did for you?

–Do you think a woman should be President of the United States?

Vocabulary to review before the show

:  the right to vote.

Suffragette:  a woman who is in favor and fights for a woman’s right to vote

Woman’s Rights Movement:  the drive to give women the same rights and opportunities as men

Woman’s Suffrage:  a movement that sought a woman’s right to vote

Enfranchisement:  to endow with the rights of citizenship, especially the right to vote

Anti-suffrage:  a movement to prohibit women from gaining the right to vote

Thirteenth amendment: the amendment to our Constitution that prohibited slavery in the United States

Fourteenth amendment:  the amendment to our Constitution that provided all citizens with equal protection under our laws

Fifteenth amendment:  the amendment to our Constitution that prohibited race, color, or previous condition of servitude from denying a citizen the right to vote

Nineteenth amendment:  the amendment to our Constitution that gave women the right to vote

Tyranny: rule or law by someone who abuses power

Verdict: the decision made by a jury at the end of a trial

Chautauqua: and assembly for educational purposes combining lectures and performances and part of a movement started in Chautauqua, New York

Warm Up Questions for meeting the Georgia Performance Standards for “Listening/Speaking/Viewing”

.Describe the perfect audience.
.What are some of our class rules for being good listeners?
.How do we show someone we appreciate their visit to our school or classroom?
.How does being part of an audience help make you a good citizen?
.What are some examples of bad audience behavior or attitudes?
.How does a negative audience member effect your enjoyment of a show or performance?
.How would this make the performer feel?
.How do we want the performer to feel when they leave our school or classroom?


–Ann Malaspina, HEART ON FIRE:  Susan B Anthony Votes for President. Albert Whitman and Company, c2012.

–Claire Rudolf Murphy, MARCHING WITH AUNT SUSAN. Peachtree Press. C 2011.

–Jonah Winter and Shane W. Evans, LILLIAN’S RIGHT TO VOTE. Schwartz and Wade Books. C 2015.

–Bohannon, Lisa Frederiksen.  THE STORY OF SUSAN B ANTHONY. Morgan     Reynolds Publishing. 2001.

–Browning, Elizabeth Barrett.  AURORA LEIGH.

–Kendall, Martha E.  SUSAN B. ANTHONY:  VOICE FOR WOMEN’S VOTING RIGHTS.  Historical American Biographies, Enslow Publishers.  1977.

–Stalcup, Brenda, editor.  SUSAN B. ANTHONY:  PEOPLE WHO MADE HISTORY. Greenhaven Press. 2002

–Schlessinger Video Productions.  SUSAN B. ANTHONY:  AN AMERICAN WOMAN OF ACHIEVEMENT.  1995.

–National Women’s History Project

Some memorable words of Susan B. Anthony

“I ask you, is it a crime for a citizen of the United Statesto vote?  Aren’t we women citizens?  It is downright mockery to talk to women of their enjoyment of the blessings of liberty while they are denied the only means of securing them—the ballot.  What rights do women have?  I say more wrongs than rights.”

“In your ordered verdict of guilty you have trampled under foot every vital principle of our government.  My natural rights, my civil rights, my political rights, my judicial rights are all alike ignored.  Robbed of the fundamental privilege of citizenship I am degraded from the status of a citizen to that of a subject.  I shall never pay a dollar of your unjust penalty.  Women have to pay taxes, can be thrown in jail, fined, even hanged, but we are not allowed the basic right of voting.”

“Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God.”

“Things happen because we make them happen.”

“We the people does not mean we the male citizens, but we the whole people.  It is downright mockery to talk to women of their enjoyment of the blessings of liberty while they are denied the ballot.  We ask that all civil and political rights that belong to citizens of the United States be guaranteed to us and our daughters forever.”

“Remember that the only fear you need have is the fear of not standing by the things you believe to be right.  Take your stand and hold it.”

“Failure is impossible.”