Montana Historical Society

Big Sky ~ Big History

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Women's History Resources and Lesson Plans


Women's History Matters Created by the Montana Historical Society as part of a commemoration of the hundredth anniversary of women’s suffrage in Montana, Women’s History Matters promotes an increased appreciation and understanding of the role of women in the Treasure State’s past.

Montana The Magazine of Western History Articles relating Women's History Find over 130 essays on Montana women's history available to download, read, and analyze. First published in 1951, the magazine prides itself on rigorous peer-reviewed scholarship and on bringing the stories of Montana to its people and to an international audience. These historically accurate yet highly readable articles will complement high school U.S. and Montana History lesson plans.

Lesson Plans

Montana Women's Legal History Lesson Plan. (Designed for grades 11-12). In this 1-2 period activity, students will examine sample Montana legislation from 1871 to 1991 that particularly affected women's lives to explore the impact laws have on the lives of ordinary people and why laws change.

Hazel Hunkins, Billings Suffragist: A Primary Source Investigation (Designed for grades 7-12) In this lesson, student historians will analyze photos, letters, newspaper articles, and other sources to learn more about the suffrage movement as experienced by Billings, Montana, native and National Woman's Party activist Hazel Hunkins.

Women and Sports: Tracking Change Over Time (Designed for grades 4-8) In this lesson aligned to both Common Core ELA and Math standards, students learn about how Title IX (a federal civil rights law enacted in 1972 that prohibits sex discrimination in education) changed girls’ opportunities to participate in school sports by collecting and analyzing the data to look at change in women’s sports participation over time.

Montana Women at Work: Clothesline Timeline Lesson Plan (Designed for grades 4-12) This primary-source based lesson asks students to analyze historic photographs to draw conclusions about women and work from the 1870s through the 2010s. Students will discover that Montana women have always worked, but that discrimination, cultural expectations, and changing technology have influenced the types of work women undertook.

Ordinary People Do Extraordinary Things! Connecting Biography to Larger Social Themes Lesson Plan (Designed for grades 8-12) This lesson uses essays published on the Women’s History Matters website to help students explore how ordinary people’s lives intersect with larger historical events and trends and to investigate how people’s choices impact their communities. After analyzing two essays on American Indian women from the Women’s History Matters website, students are asked to conduct interviews with people in their own community to learn about how that person has chosen to shape the world around him or her.

Biographical Poems Celebrating Amazing Montana Women Lesson Plan (Designed for grades 4-6) This lesson asks students to research specific Montana women (by reading biographical essays) and to use the information they gather to create biographical poems. Through their research (and by hearing their classmates’ poems) they will recognize that there is no single “woman’s experience”; women’s lives are diverse and that people can make a difference in their communities.

Girl from the Gulches: The Story of Mary Ronan Study Guide (Designed for students 6-10). This study guide includes lesson plans, vocabulary, chapter summaries and questions, alignment to the Common Core, and other information to facilitate classroom use of Girl from the Gulches: The Story of Mary Ronan, as told to Margaret Ronan, edited by Ellen Baumler. Set in the second half of the nineteenth century, this highly readable 222-page memoir details Mary Sheehan Ronan’s journey across the Great Plains, her childhood on the Colorado and Montana mining frontiers, her ascent to young womanhood in Southern California, her return to Montana as a young bride, and her life on the Flathead Indian Reservation as the wife of an Indian agent. Book One, which provides a child’s-eye view of the mining frontier, is available to download as a PDF (Lexile Level 1180L). Classroom sets of Girl from the Gulches can be purchased from the Montana Historical Society Museum Store by calling toll free 1-800-243-9900.

A Beautiful Tradition: Ingenuity and Adaptation in a Century of Plateau Women's Art (4-12) Three grade-appropriate versions of this curriculum, for fourth/fifth grade, middle school, and high school, provide you and your students with an introduction to this colorful and distinctive art form. The PowerPoint presentations; worksheets; and other material are aligned with the Essential Understandings regarding Montana Indians and offer an interdisciplinary avenue for exploring Plateau tribes, cultural change and continuity, and tribal members ability to adapt to new circumstances while preserving a strong sense of cultural identity.