Lesson Plan

Oh No you Can’t: What Women in New York in 1848 Could NOT do in 1848

Illustration plate from Godey’s Lady’s Book. March, 1859 showing fashions of the period.
Illustration from Godey’s Lady’s Book. March, 1859.
Hope Greenburg, University of Vermont.
Grade Level:
Seventh Grade-Adult Education (general)
Community, Constitutional Law, Family Life, History, Leadership, Religion, Women's History
You should allow your class two hours to complete this lesson plan.
Group Size:
Up to 36 (6-12 breakout groups)


In the 1840s and 1850s, Women in New York State were restricted from many different activities.  The Seneca Falls Convention was called to address many of these issues.  Supporters of the women’s rights movement had previously worked in other reform movements, such as antislavery and temperance.  The ideas and tools used in the women’s rights movement came directly from these earlier reform movements.


The teacher should review the following.


The "Oh No you Can't" list.


The Declaration of Sentiments.


The various reform movements of the 19th century.


The 19th amendment to the US Constitution.


Step 1. Break your class into small discussion groups. Have each group read the list of "Oh No you Can't" and answer the questions that follow. Have them consider their own lives, and why women were denied these rights.


Step 2. Have each group read the excerpt from the Declaration of Sentiments and grievances. Use this information to answer the questions.


Step 3. Place the grievances into the categories of Education, Economics, Religion, and Family and Society. Evaluate and describe the condition of women in 1848.


Step 4. Explore the reform movements of Abolition, Temperance, Dress Reform, Education Reform, and the people who were involved in them. Explore the Utopian Societies of Sodus Bay Phalanx, and the Oneida Community.


Step 5. Read the text of the 19th amendment. Explore the various organizations that struggled for women's rights.  Read the diary excerpts to explore the daily activities of women in the 19th century.

Park Connections

The lesson plan explores the various rights denied to women in the 19th century, the Seneca Falls Convention and the Declaration of Sentiments, 19th century reform movements, and the 19th amendment to the Constitution.


Women’s Rights, Convention, Declaration of Sentiments, Seneca Falls Convention, Reform, Antislavery, Temperance, Dress Reform, Utopian Societies, Education Reform.