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digital exhibit, history teaching, primary sources


Women circus performers were great examples of what equality could look like. They were strong, independent, and made as much money—or more—as their male counterparts. This empowerment was showcased daily during their performances and eventually became part of the narrative of women’s suffrage. They served as an inspiration to women across the nation.

This topic examines the history of women’s suffrage and the empowerment of women through their work in the circus and as suffrage organizers. Looking at this important piece of history is especially timely given the upcoming centennial of women’s suffrage. Educators will have an opportunity to learn about using relevant primary source materials from ISU Special Collections and related resources.


This presentation was given at Study the Past, Envision the Future: History Teaching Symposium, Illinois State University, 2020



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