Women's History: Glass Windows & Glass Ceilings


Photographs and images of Tiffany windows and lamps, Bio-ID reproducible, and sketch paper


Related Episode

Spotlight on women artists who created Louis Comfort stained glass windows at the turn of the 20th century



What contribution did women artists make during the 20th century? 



Estimated Time Required

1-2 class periods






After watching an excerpt from the History Detectives episode Tiffany Window which focused on how an anonymous team of women helped to create the famous Tiffany stained glass works, students research other female artists of the 20th century.

Before Viewing

Before class, assemble a group of images depicting Louis Comfort Tiffany stained glass windows and lamps, like those on the Metropolitan Museum of Art Web site. (Educators can obtain images on loan from the Morse Museum.)

When students enter class, show them the images and ask whether they've ever seen anything like them before. Can they identify the type of art works they are looking at? If needed, explain that they are stained glass windows and lamps, and that the style is Art Nouveau, a style of art and decorative arts, including items like windows and lamps. Provide a brief introduction to Art Nouveau.



After they watch the Tiffany Glass episode of History Detectives, tell students that they will  create profiles of female artists, detailing their contributions to the art world and the specific style and period in which they worked. They should use the reproducible Bio-ID to record their research.

Alternatively, have them profile women from the same time period who were working in fields dominated by men, like medicine and science, detailing their contributions to that field.


Going Further

Students create their own Tiffany-style window designs. (As desired and appropriate for your curriculum, have students emulate Art Nouveau style or work in the artistic style of their choice.) They should begin by brainstorming, looking at cultural artifacts for inspirations and ideas, and sketching before creating their final designs. Using this online tool, students can create their own patterns digitally as well.

Create a student gallery of finished designs and invite other students and members of the community to view and comment on the works.



The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Tiffany

Resources on Louis Comfort Tiffany, including galleries of stained glass windows and lamps.


A New Light on Tiffany: Clara Driscoll and the Tiffany Girls 

Information on a traveling exhibit about the women who worked at Tiffany Studios.


National Museum of Women in the Arts: Clara Database 

Information on 18,000 female visual artists.


McRel Standards

United States History

16. Understands how the rise of corporations, heavy industry, and mechanized farming transformed American Society

18. Understands the rise of the American labor movement and how political issues reflected social and economic changes

22.  Understands how the United States changed between the post-World War I years and the eve of the Great Depression


Historical Understanding

1. Understands and knows how to analyze chronological relationships and patterns

2. Understands the historical perspective


Visual Arts

1. Understands and applies media, techniques, and processes related to the visual arts

4.  Understands the visual arts in relation to history and cultures