Seneca Falls Convention Lesson Plan

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

Students will learn about the objectives and impact of the Seneca Falls Convention. They will expand on this by analyzing the Declaration of Sentiments as a primary document.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Describe the Seneca Falls Convention and its role in US history
  • Identify key figures of the Seneca Falls Convention
  • Critically analyze the Declaration of Sentiments as a foundational document in American history


60-90 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.


Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that probe reasoning and evidence; ensure a hearing for a full range of positions on a topic or issue; clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions; and promote divergent and creative perspectives.


  • Copies of Lesson Quiz
  • Copies of the Declaration of Sentiments (1848)
  • Copies of the Declaration of Independence (1776)


  • Start class with a discussion on women's suffrage in the United States.
    • What does suffrage mean? Why do you think it took so long for American women to gain suffrage? Did American women want the right to vote before the 20th century? What political, economic, and social factors do you think may have played a role in this?
  • Begin video lesson Seneca Falls Convention of 1848: Definition, Summary & Significance. Pause video at 1:01 to discuss this information as a class.
    • What was the Seneca Falls Convention? Why is it significant to US history?
    • What was happening in 1848 in the United States?
    • What is significant about the presence of Frederick Douglass at the Seneca Falls Convention? What conclusions can we daw about the relationship between suffrage and other reform movements? Can we see any similarities in the treatment of women and African Americans in this time? How were they similar, and how were they different?
    • What was the Declaration of Sentiments? What impact would you guess this had on the women's suffrage movement? How can a formal document like this help a cause?
  • Resume video, and pause it at 2:11 to discuss this information.
    • What were major priorities of the Seneca Falls Convention? Why do you think some of these issues were difficult to agree on? Why might Americans at that time have disagreed over these issues?
  • Resume and complete video. Discuss this information as a class.
    • How was the women's suffrage movement connected to other reform movements of the era? What does this tell us about American society at this time? Can we see some of the national disunity and differences that may have contributed to the Civil War?
    • Why do you think American women were becoming more involved in reform and politics in this time period? Why not earlier or later?
    • What was the impact of the Seneca Falls Convention? How did it help women direct the goals and activities of their organizations? Discuss the different ways Americans may have felt about this convention at the time.
  • You may test students' understanding with Lesson Quiz.

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