THE LIFE AND TIMES OF EMMA GOLDMAN
A Curriculum for Middle and High School Students
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Background to the Exhibits
In turnofthecentury America, Emma Goldman raised
"the sex question" in public lectures and debates.
She advocated a vision of love as liberating, transforming, and
free. Through newspaper interviews, private letters, speeches,
and a striking photograph, students will learn how Goldman's
commitment to the concept of freedom for the individual applied
to women. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch
interview with Goldman
and Goldman's lecture "Jealousy--Its Cause and
Possible Cure" present her view
that marriage inhibits rather than enhances love and creates jealousy.
In a period in which it was unlawful to speak
about birth control, Goldman was one of its first public advocates.
Goldman's letter to the press and speech on birth control illustrate
her assertion that women have a right to control their bodies. Like
Goldman was arrested for speaking out on this issue.
She utilized the publicity about the harsh response of the authorities
in suppressing her talks to focus attention on the movement.
Goldman's essay on women's suffrage, reveals her
that the campaign for the vote was basically a middleclass movement
limited in its scope and a strategy neither for true liberation
nor for the purification of the current political system.
- Assign roles and act out the interview from
the St. Louis PostDispatch
- Pretend you are Emma Goldman on a talk show.
Comment on the institution of marriage today.
- Write a letter to Goldman about the changes
that have occurred in the institution of marriage since her time.
- Research the Comstock Law. Find out how
it was used to stop the dissemination of birth control information.
- Identify contemporary prochoice and
antiabortion organizations. Gather news articles summarizing
their arguments for and against a woman's right to control her
reproductive life. Hold a debate.
- Research laws regulating a man's reproductive
- Find out what medical, sociological, and
economic arguments in favor of birth control were used in 1916.
Compare and contrast arguments for and against birth control
presented in the early years of the century with today's arguments
- Use the exhibits on Goldman to compare and
contrast her ideas and actions with another prominent woman of
the Progressive Era: for example, labor leader Elizabeth Gurley
Flynn, social worker Jane Addams, AfricanAmerican journalist
Ida B. Wells Barnett, Jewish labor organizer Rose Schneiderman.
- Find out more about the ideas of birth control
pioneers, including Havelock Ellis, Olive Schreiner, Dr. Dorothy
Bocker, Dr. Hannah Stone, Helen Keller, Margaret Sanger.
- Students role play one of the abovelisted
personalities of their choice. Hold a forum in the class in which
audience members ask questions of each personality addressing
such issues as love, marriage, female equality, sexuality, suffrage.
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