Life Story: Jeannette Rankin (1880-1973)

Pacifism and Public Service

The story of the first female member of Congress and her refusal to allow politics to influence her personal beliefs and morals, particularly in regard to peace.

Jeannette Rankin

Jeanette Rankin, 1880-1973, c. 1917. Matzene, Chicago. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Washington D.C.

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Rep. Jeanette Rankin of Montana, left, reading The Suffragist

Rep. Jeanette Rankin of Montana, left, reading The Suffragist, Washington, ca. 1917-1918. c. 1917-1918. Women of Protest: Photographs from the Records of the National Woman’s Party, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

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Jeannette Rankin Brigade Protesting Vietnam War

Bettmann, Jeannette Rankin Brigade Protesting Vietnam War, 1968. Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

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Suggested Activities

  • Analyze Jeannette’s life story in combination with other suffrage resources, including “Women in the Home” and the suffrage parade photograph (Resource 29 in The Armory Show at 100 curriculum). Why might suffragists have felt strongly that Jeannette should value her position as a suffragist over her position as a pacifist?
  • Learn about the challenges pacifists faced during World War I by reading Jeannette’s life story in conjunction with those of Emma Goldman and Jane Addams.
  • Compare Jeannette’s stance on American entry into World War II with popular opinion about the war before and after Pearl Harbor. Connect her life story to resources in the curriculum guide WWII & NYC.



New-York Historical Society Curriculum Library Connections

  • For more resources relating to women, suffrage, and modern life in the early twentieth century, see The Armory Show at 100.
  • For more information on World War II, see WWII & NYC.
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