Changing Roles of Women in the 1920's

Unit: Roaring Twenties
Lesson: Women


  • Margaret Sanger’s letters from the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College, Northampton, MA: Box 2 Folder 5, Box 2 Folder 7, Box 2 Folder 9, flapper diary entry 


  • Compare 1920’s to 2003.
  • Compare access to birth control in 2004 to 1920’s.
  • Explain what Sanger’s goals were.
  • Describe the typical day of a flapper.


  • What qualities make up a flapper?


1. On the board compare lifestyles of the 1920’s to today. Include:

2. Introduce Margaret Sanger. Include:

  • Her goals and visions for family limitations
  • What she accomplished in the development of Planned Parenthood

3. Have the students break into four groups.  Each group will be presented with a letter. As a group, decide:

  • Why did this person write the letter to Margaret Sanger?
  • What education do we have in health class today that alleviates the problems expressed in the letter?

4. Students will individually read a letter from a diary entry of a typical flapper. (worksheet)


  • What aspects of the 1920’s do you wish were still around today? 


  • Read the next section in the chapter. 

Useful sources:

New York State Standards:

  • Social Studies Standard for United States History
  • English Standard for reading
  • Resource Guide: Lifestyle of the 1920’s