Anna Howard Shaw Women’s Rights Debate Research Paper

Anna Howard Shaw is considered one of the most important figures in relation to women’s rights. During the 1800s and early 1900s women were treated unfairly.  She lived during a time at which women had little or no say in how or what they wanted to do with their lives.  Women were not allowed to vote, had no rights to own property and were virtually invisible if they were married.  There were a few exceptions but to women like Shaw, they wanted the opportunity to do more instead of being limited. 

Research papers on the subject have sought to answer questions about Shaw’s role in women’s rights.  Aside from Shaw and her contributions, other aspects of women’s rights are explored including women’s suffrage, how women protested at the inauguration of Woodrow Wilson and other significant events that took place.  For years it seemed as if positive progress for women happened at a slower pace.  While women were actively protesting, by 1914, just seven states granted women voting rights.

When Shaw became a preacher she quickly learned she wasn’t able to make a lucrative living compared to males.  She took university courses for speech and debating.  Many didn’t approve of interest in becoming a preacher.  In the late 1880s she became the first female ordained minister in the United States. Soon after, she became an advocate for women’s political rights. 

Supporters of the women’s suffrage rallied their support around Shaw after hearing her preach.  She spoke at different rallies at women’s suffrage groups across the county. Shaw was a prominent public speaker for over 35 years with more than 600 speaking engagements under her belt.  She continued speaking through her early 70s.  Men became intimidated and reluctant to debate against her.  She was known for giving thought-provoking speeches in front of male lawmakers.  Later, President Wilson agreed to support the women’s suffrage amendment and it became law in 1920.

Shaw died before the law went into effect a year prior.   Because of her significant contributions media outlets across the country recalled her actions while running lengthy obituaries highlighting her life.  Essays related to this topic may look at positive and negative subject views.  Some focus more on what women did in order to see change, others looked at how ignorant thoughts against women prevented growth.  For the most part, essays on the matter pay homage to a woman that made a significant mark in American history.


Published on  June 8th, 2016

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