About This Lesson
Lafayette Square, in Washington, D.C., is listed in the National Register of Historic Places by virtue of its designation as a National Historic Landmark in 1970. This lesson is based on the National Register of Historic Places documentation “Lafayette Square Historic District” (with photos) and on materials on Lafayette Park and the National Woman’s Party (NWP). The lesson was written by Marilyn Harper, former Teaching with Historic Places historian, and edited by staff members of the Teaching with Historic Places program, President’s Park, National Park Service, and the White House Historical Association.
The lesson was made possible by a generous grant from the White House Historical Association. This lesson is one in a series that brings the important stories of historic places into classrooms across the country.
Where it fits into the curriculum
Topics: This lesson could be used in American history, social studies, government, and civics courses in units on early 20th century reform movements, American political history, or women’s history.
Time period: Early 20th century
Relevant United States History Standards for Grades 5-12
Relevant Curriculum Standards for Social Studies
Find your state's social studies and history standards for grades Pre-K-12
Objectives for students
1) To examine the relationship between Lafayette Park and the White House.
2) To explain the importance of the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment, using the NWP women’s suffrage campaign of 1917-1920 as a case study.
3) To describe the campaign and to explain why NWP leaders decided to make Lafayette Square the party’s headquarters.
4) To identify places in the local community where controversies about First Amendment rights have occurred.
Materials for students
The materials listed below can be used directly on the computer or printed out, photocopied, and distributed to students. The maps and images appear twice: in a small version with associated questions and alone in a larger version.
1) two maps showing the White House, Lafayette Park, and Lafayette Square;
2) two readings about the NWP and its suffrage campaign;
3) one document, the text of a speech by President Wilson;
4) six photos of the suffrage campaign;
5) one political cartoon relating to women’s suffrage.
Visiting the site
Lafayette Park is a seven-acre landscaped area and is part of President’s Park, which is composed of the park lands surrounding the White House and its grounds. Both the White House and President’s Park are part of the National Park System. The buildings that face Lafayette Park form a neighborhood known as Lafayette Square. Some of the buildings on the Square are open to the public, but most are not. The park and its surrounding streets are public spaces. A visit to the site should begin at the White House Visitor Center, located at 1450 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The Visitor Center contains exhibits and background information, as well as other visitor services. The White House can be viewed from Lafayette Park and the surrounding streets, but visitors need to contact their congressional representatives to arrange for tours. For more information, visit the President’s Park website.