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Primary Sources & Lesson Plans
Teacher Notes for Speeches


In the pre-mass media age, individuals listened for hours to orators. Because most of these speeches were not recorded, we have lost a great deal of this extraordinary aspect of our past. This loss highlights the value of those speeches that have survived.

Throughout history, speeches have touched on a variety of issues and expressed both majority and minority views. The topics about which people spoke indicate the important issues of the time. Yet students must think about not only the subject, but also the audience at which the speech was aimed, the opinions it reflected, and the way in which those opinions were expressed.

Women have not always had the right to speak publicly about issues that were important to them. The arenas in which they were allowed to speak reflected society’s view of women’s “proper place.” The text, context and subtext of women’s public addresses also reveal a great deal about the status of a woman in her community. The speeches by women in the Jewish Women’s Archive collection reflect both women’s individual interests and society’s willingness to hear their voices.


  • Analyze an argument
  • Support opinion with relevant details


1. Discuss the nature of public addresses and their value to the study of the past. If possible, provide an example, using video, audio, or text.

2. Have students complete Section 1 of the Student Activity Sheet and discuss their results.

3. Provide students with a speech from the Jewish Women’s Archive collection.

4. Have students complete Section 2 of the Student Activity Sheet and discuss their observations.

5. Provide students with background information on this speech and have them complete Section 3 of the Student Activity Sheet.

6. For more specific questions, look at Discuss This Document in the individual documents.

7. Discuss students’ responses.

8. If time permits, have students do the follow-up activities in Section 4 of the Student Activity Sheet.

Document Study Sheets

Sermon given by Jewish woman, 1890

Speech at Hadassah convention, 1937

Observations about women’s Judaism, 1977


How to Cite This Page
Jewish Women's Archive. "JWA - Speeches - Teacher Notes for Speeches." <>.