history essay primary source analysis

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(do not use the outside sources! all the reading is attached)

For the second paper you will compare, examine, analyze, and interpret two related primary source documents in order to explain their meaning and how the sources give us an insight into the issue of inequality between men and women in late twentieth-century America.

National Organization of Women, Philadelphia Chapter, “Brochure on the Equal Rights Amendment,” in Voices of Freedom, pp.301-3.

Phyllis Schlafly, “The Fraud of the Equal Rights Amendment,” Voices of Freedom, pp.316-18.

A proposed Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was first introduced in the 1920s (see Elsie Hill and Florence Kelley Debate the Equal Rights Amendment, Voices of Freedom, pp.155-7), but it did not gain much political traction and the Amendment was defeated. Because of second-wave feminism in the 1960s, a revised Equal Rights Amendment appeared in the early 1970s:

“Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

It had support of both houses of Congress and President Nixon. But, when the Amendment went to the states for debate and ratification it was met with fierce resistance from American social conservatives who argued that equality for men and women would undermine the traditional roles of both. The ERA did not receive the necessary 3/4 ratification by the states and was thus defeated.

The National Organization of Women (NOW) led the debate for the ERA’s ratification. Among conservatives, Phyllis Schlafly became the dominant voice of opposition to the ERA.

For this paper compare and contrast the arguments of both sides:

  • What does NOW hope to achieve with the ratification of the ERA? What gains would women achieve because of protections the ERA would provide?
  • On what grounds does Schlafly base her objection to the ERA? Why does she think women will be at a disadvantage if the ERA is ratified?
  • Why did this debate over women’s equality occur at this particular moment in the 1970s, and not before or since?
  • How does the defeat of the ERA reflect the growing trend of modern conservatism in the United States?

Here are a few handouts you may find helpful in writing the paper…

The paper must include the following:

  • A descriptive title.
  • A thesis statement and an argument. Do not simply summarize or describe the document. Provide an analysis of its meaning and significance. In other words, form an interpretation of the document.
  • Provide evidence from the text to support your thesis statement. The evidence must come from the text itself.
  • Use citations, in-text or footnotes or endnotes.
  • A bibliography containing references to texts that you used specifically in your paper, and also texts that you consulted but did not necessarily use or refer to in your paper.
  • You must submit your paper on Canvas using the Turnitin link. You will only be able to submit your paper once. You must submit the file in a .doc, .docx, .rtf, or .pdf format. Do not submit you paper in a .pages format.

In addition, your paper must have the following format:

  • a minimum of 3 full pages,
  • 10 or 12-point readable font
  • double-spaced
  • 1” margins

It is absolutely imperative that your paper contains citations of the sources used and that the citations are correct. Any paper without citations will fail the assignment. You must cite your sources.


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