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'Iolani School Archives: Women, the U.S., and 'Iolani -- An Exhibition Experience

The ‘Iolani School Archives collects, organizes, preserves and provides access to historical records of ‘Iolani School.


Above steps by the National Archives

Teaching with Primary Sources

*Also see the Teaching and Primary Sources box in the Links tab of this guide.

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Women, the U.S., & 'Iolani -- An Exhibition Experience

Upper School Faculty!

This multimedia exhibition featuring items from several collections, including the National Archives, provides students a unique opportunity to learn about the history of Women's Suffrage. They will improve primary source and visual literacy by experiencing history portrayed using various methods. They will use critical thinking skills to complete writing assignments which can be modified by faculty to be formal or informal. Students will also be exposed to other U.S. historical collections.
The following is primarily intended to complement your existing teaching units.

Writing assignments and prompts developed by English faculty member Yakshi Palmer.


Grade: 9-12; can be modified for 7-8


Location: 'Iolani School Archives. Adaptable for Distance Learning.



Each student must bring:
  • iPad (school issued)
  • pencil



  • The Archivist will give a summary of items on exhibition.
  • Class viewing of video (08:12) regarding Women's Suffrage.
  • Student will be permitted to roam independently to view the exhibition at their own pace.
  • Students will individually complete writing responses per exhibition component.


Suffrage Video Viewing:

The class, as one large group, will view the video "Best Kept Secret: Suffrage in the 20th Century" available through the Fairfax County Government YouTube channel. The video provides a summary of the history of Women's Suffrage.
Video: 8 minutes 12 seconds

---> Writing assignment - Answer all questions:

  1. What were the consequences of the march described in the video? What was the “night of terror”?
  2. Which techniques did the suffragists use to protest for their rights? Name some other groups of people that have used similar techniques.
  3. How did African American women participate in the fight for women’s right to vote? What were the challenges to their participation?


'Iolani Women:

This component will feature yearbooks, photographs, and more highlighting the role of women throughout the history of 'Iolani School. Beginning with its start as an all-boys school through to coeducation in 1979, it includes information about the only female head-of-school.

---> Writing assignment - Answer all questions:

  1. Describe some practices and/or propaganda that point to gender inequality in ‘Iolani’s past.
  2. What did you find most surprising about this portion of the exhibit?


Rightfully Hers from the National Archives:

'Iolani School Archives is fortunate to have received Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote popup exhibit from the National Archives. It was created to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment (August 2020). It includes information and images of digitized items from the National Archives collections exploring the history of the ratification of this historic amendment, women's voting rights before and after, and its impact today.

The exhibit is presented in part by the National Archives Foundation through the generous support of Unilever, Pivotal Ventures, Carl M. Freeman Foundation in honor of Virginia Allen Freeman, AARP, and Denise Gwyn Ferguson.

**Scroll down to see Digital versions for Distance Learning: Rightfully Hers popup poster 1-4.**

---> Writing assignment - Answer all questions:

  1. Who is left out of the 19th amendment?
  2. When did Native Americans gain U.S. citizenship?
  3. When did all adult women gain the right to vote?
  4. When were Asian immigrants first allowed to become U.S. citizens?
  5. What is the purpose of the Voting Rights Act of 1965?
  6. What is another big barrier to voting that persists today?
  7. How long did it take for the 19th Amendment to pass? How many proposals to Congress?
  8. Why is voting important?


Optional Follow-up:

If time permits, or as follow-up to the class visit, additional videos are available through an archivist curated playlist of videos, including speaker panels and informational shorts from the National Archives.

Possible additional writing assignment:

  • Vocabulary- define terms:
    1. feminism
    2. suffrage
    3. autonomy
    4. agency (find the psychological or sociological definition)
  • Using the four words above, write a few sentences explaining your understanding of the “first wave” of feminism.



Rightfully Hers - Supplemental Image Gallery

Digital Versions for Distance Learning


Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote | National Archives Museum website

From the National Archives

Additional Resources

See Also

Important Questions

Important Questions in the Study of Primary Sources infographic

(Click to enlarge.)

Thanks for reviewing a draft of
"Important Questions" go to
Dr. Melissa Perkins,
'Iolani School History Faculty
2021 Hawai'i History Teacher of the Year

(Click to enlarge.)

Photographs / Images - Visual Literacy

Photograph Based Questions - Examining Primary Sources:

  • What do you see? / What do you notice?
  • What is the same as ___ (now, your classroom, etc.)?
  • What is different?
  • What seems important?
  • What seems unusual?
  • What do you think is happening in the photo?
  • What questions do you have about this photo?
  • What questions do you have for the person who took the photo?