How Did Colonial Women Demonstrate Their Patriotism?



Grade Level
Elementary; Middle; High School

Standards and Skills
Virginia Standards of Learning: Virginia Studies; U.S. History 1; Virginia and US Government
VUS.2; VUS.3; GOVT.2.d; GOVT.3

Using Information Sources; Organizing Information; Questioning and Critical Thinking Skills; Comparing and Contrasting; Determining Cause and Effect; Making Connections; Exercising Civic Responsibility; Demonstrating Comprehension

Meets National Standards of Learning for Social Studies


Students will analyze primary sources and be able to describe how colonial women demonstrated their patriotism even without formal political rights.

Essential Question
How did colonial women demonstrate their patriotism?


Some of the women that students will examine in this lesson plan have remarkable and extraordinary stories, like Anna Maria Lane. However, the participation of many women to the patriot movement is less obvious. As managers of the household budget, women were integral to the colonial economy. Everyday activities, such as purchasing clothing and food, made their participation key in attempts to stop the consumption of British goods. Broadsides urged patriotic daughters of liberty to avoid particular merchants, or to find local substitutes for imported articles, especially those imported from England. Many propagandists encouraged women to join the non-consumption movement by connecting the politics of boycotts to the security of home and family. The primary source “A Society of Patriot Ladies, at Edenton in North Carolina” (1775) political cartoon provides a satirical look from the English perspective of their American counterparts allowing women to take part in the political process.



Step One
As a class, have students brainstorm and list what they think were typical roles for women on a colonial-era farm. After completing the class discussion, explain the expected role of women in colonial Virginia leading up to the American Revolution (using the essay as background).

Step Two
Explain that the students will be examining primary sources that look at the role of women in the American Revolution. Teachers should start the exercise by modeling the primary source “Address to the LADIES” (1767) printed verse. Read the source together as a class and then lead a class discussion focused on the following:

Step Three
Divide students into four content groups (one for each of the primary sources). Give each group 10-15 minutes to examine and discuss their source. During this time, float around the classroom to monitor progress.

Step Four
Divide the class once more, this time into teams. Make sure that each team has at least one member from the earlier content groups. Students should take turns presenting their material from the content group to their team, encouraging others to ask questions and make comments for clarification. Students can use the following questions as a guide:

Step Five
Ask a representative from each team to share with the class their team’s main takeaway from the sources, attempting to answer the essential question:

After the class has finished their discussion, students should then compare analyses and use the combined information to discuss the following questions:


Have students create a broadside or cartoon based on patriot women’s participation in the American Revolution.