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National Women's History Month: Literature: Home

This guide celebrates National Women's History Month with a showcase of titles and links to information about women's history.

National Women's History Month

national women's history monthMarch is Women's History Month! 

There are many resources on the web beyond this page, including:

  • Womenshistorymonth.gov: The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in commemorating and encouraging the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history.
  • National Women's History Museum: Our mission is to tell the stories of women who transformed our nation. We will do that through a growing state-of-the-art online presence and a future physical museum to educate, inspire, empower, shape the future, and provide a complete view of American history.
  • National Women's History Alliance: Formerly the National Women’s History Project, the NWHA is a leader in promoting Women’s History and is committed to the goals of education, empowerment, equality, and inclusion. 
  • The History Channel: Photo galleries and videos of women leaders in various fields.

 

This page highlights several books and databases with information about women's history. However, there are so many more! Search the library's catalog to find other resources.

 

A Black Women's History of the United States

A Black Women's History of the United States

“A Black Women’s History of the United States reaches far beyond a single narrative to showcase Black women’s lives in all their fraught complexities. Berry and Gross prioritize many voices: enslaved women, freedwomen, religious leaders, artists, queer women, activists, and women who lived outside the law. The result is a starting point for exploring Black women’s history and a testament to the beauty, richness, rhythm, tragedy, heartbreak, rage, and enduring love that abounds in the spirit of Black women in communities throughout the nation.” -Provided by the publisher

Dr. Berry headshotDr. Daina Ramey Berry

"In my work, I try to honor the voices and experience of people who were enslaved, because, for so long, in the historical literature, nobody asked them about how they experienced slavery. They talked about enslaved people by making them objects. But these were human beings. And, for me, I think it’s important to try to read and think about moments, historical moments from their perspectives."

Read or watch the entire interview with Dr. Berry on PBS.org.

Gross - author headshotDr. Kali Nicole Gross

"I have always struggled with the tension between black women’s history of rape, brutality, and marginalization and the scholarly emphasis on triumph, achievement, and respectability. It isn’t that I don’t think these histories matter—they absolutely do and reflect our people’s survival for sure—but the relative one-sidedness often eclipses the human costs of trauma. I have always found it supremely unfair, and unrealistic, for black folks to have suffered and endured as much as we have without also having the space to be harmed by it lest we get depicted as congenitally pathological; somehow black folk are to have emerged from these atrocities fully whole and unscathed. For me, there is an erasure of our humanity in that[.]"

Read the entire interview with Dr. Gross at the African American Intellectual History Society 

America's Jewish Women

America's Jewish Women

“A groundbreaking history of how Jewish women maintained their identity and influenced social activism as they wrote themselves into American history.

What does it mean to be a Jewish woman in America? In a gripping historical narrative, Pamela S. Nadell weaves together the stories of a diverse group of extraordinary people—from the colonial-era matriarch Grace Nathan and her great-granddaughter, poet Emma Lazarus, to labor organizer Bessie Hillman and the great justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, to scores of other activists, workers, wives, and mothers who helped carve out a Jewish American identity.” -Provided by the publisher

Pamela NadellPamela Nadell

“Historians of American women tend to pay attention to Jewish women who were active in the labor movement, and not much beyond that. And Jewish women tend to get collapsed into other white American women. I’m trying to show that actually they do have an independent history, and the fact that they were Jewish mattered.”

Read the entire article about Nadell from American University. 

The Radium Girls

The Radium Girls“The girls shone “like the watches did in the darkroom,” as though they themselves were timepieces, counting down the seconds as they passed. They glowed like ghosts as they walked home through the streets of Orange.”

 

The Curies’ newly discovered element of radium makes gleaming headlines across the nation as the fresh face of beauty, and wonder drug of the medical community. From body lotion to tonic water, the popular new element shines bright in the otherwise dark years of the First World War.

Meanwhile, hundreds of girls toil amidst the glowing dust of the radium-dial factories. The glittering chemical covers their bodies from head to toe; they light up the night like industrious fireflies. With such a coveted job, these “shining girls” are the luckiest alive — until they begin to fall mysteriously ill.

But the factories that once offered golden opportunities are now ignoring all claims of the gruesome side effects, and the women’s cries of corruption. And as the fatal poison of the radium takes hold, the brave shining girls find themselves embroiled in one of the biggest scandals of America’s early 20th century, and in a groundbreaking battle for workers’ rights that will echo for centuries to come.” -Provided by the publisher

Available on Overdrive as an ebook, or in print in TC's Bestsellers.

AVON Resources

AVON Video Database

Thousands of videos about women's history are available on the AVON database from Alexander Street Press!

Database thumbnail screenshot

 

For example, The Forgotten Veterans, from 60 Minutes, about the women veterans of the Vietnam War.

Gale Primary Sources Online

Gale Primary Sources: Sabin Americana, 1500-1926

Covering more than 400 years and more than 65,000 volumes in North, Central, and South America and the West Indies, this easy-to-use digital collection highlights the society, politics, religious beliefs, culture, contemporary opinions, and momentous events of the time through sermons, political tracts, newspapers, books, pamphlets, maps, legislation, literature, and more.

Book cover: Problems on the Woman QuestionBook cover: Proceedings of the National Woman's Rights Convention 1854

 

Contemporary Women's Issues features current full text and pertinent backfile coverage of topics relevant to women around the world, including civil rights, health, education, professional development, and entrepreneurship.

“Gender Studies Collection provides balanced coverage of this significant aspect of culture and society. The database offers access to scholarly journals and magazines covering topics including gender studies, family and marital issues, and more.

America's Women

In this sweeping cultural history, Gail Collins explores the transformations, victories, and tragedies of women in America over the past 300 years. As she traces the role of females from their arrival on the Mayflower through the 19th century to the feminist movement of the 1970s and today, she demonstrates a boomerang pattern of participation and retreat.

In some periods, women were expected to work in the fields and behind the barricades―to colonize the nation, pioneer the West, and run the defense industries of World War II. In the decades between, economic forces and cultural attitudes shunted them back into the home, confining them to the role of moral beacon and domestic goddess. Told chronologically through the compelling true stories of individuals whose lives, linked together, provide a complete picture of the American woman’s experience, Untitled is a landmark work and major contribution for us all.” -Provided by the publisher

Gail Collins headshotGail Collins

“The history of American women is about the fight for freedom, but it’s less a war against oppressive men than a struggle to straighten out the perpetually mixed message about women’s role that was accepted by almost everybody of both genders. [….] Everyone believed that married women were obliged to stay home with their children, while everyone bought factory goods produced by poor working mothers, made from cotton picked by female slaves.”

From the introduction of "America's Women." 

Becoming

Becoming by Michelle Obama

“For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.”

 

In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.” -Provided by the publisher

Available on Overdrive as an ebook and audiobook, or in print in our Bestsellers.

 

Notorious RBG

Notorious RBG cover

“I think that men and women, shoulder to shoulder, will work together to make this a better world. Just as I don’t think that men are the superior sex, neither do I think women are. I think that it is great that we are beginning to use the talents of all of the people, in all walks of life, and that we no longer have the closed doors that we once had.” —RBG

 

“She was a fierce dissenter with a serious collar game. A legendary, self-described “flaming feminist litigator” who made the world more equal. And an intergenerational icon affectionately known as the Notorious RBG. As the nation mourns the loss of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, discover the story of a remarkable woman and learn how to carry on her legacy.

This runaway bestseller, brought to you by the attorney founder of the Notorious RBG Tumblr and an award-winning feminist journalist, is more than just a love letter. It draws on intimate access to Ginsburg's family members, close friends, colleagues, and clerks, as well as an interview with the Justice herself. An original hybrid of reported narrative, annotated dissents, rare archival photos and documents, and illustrations, the book tells a never-before-told story of an unusual and transformative woman who transcended divides and changed the world forever.” -Provided by the publisher

Available on Overdrive as an ebook.

Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists

Amazons, Abolitionists, and ActivistsThe ongoing struggle for women’s rights has spanned human history, touched nearly every culture on Earth, and encompassed a wide range of issues, such as the right to vote, work, get an education, own property, exercise bodily autonomy, and beyond. Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists is a fun and fascinating graphic novel–style primer that covers the key figures and events that have advanced women’s rights from antiquity to the modern era. In addition, this compelling book illuminates the stories of notable women throughout history—from queens and freedom fighters to warriors and spies—and the progressive movements led by women that have shaped history, including abolition, suffrage, labor, civil rights, LGBTQ liberation, reproductive rights, and more.” -Provided by the publisher

Mikki KendallMikki Kendall

“[W]e all have to work together for a better future. It's not going to be easy, but we can't leave anyone out if we want that bright shiny world where everyone has access to opportunity and we're in healthy societies. It's hard to work together when you think that you're the only one working hard enough or in the right way. Realistically, we all have to do some of the work for people who are not just like us if we want to make things better. And we have to understand that there is no single right way to fight for equality and equity.”

See the entire interview with Kendall on SyFy Wire

White Tears/Brown Scars

White Tears/Brown Scars

“White women can oscillate between their gender and their race, between being the oppressed and the oppressor. Women of color are never permitted to exist outside of these constraints: we are both women and people of color and we are always seen and treated as such.”

 

Taking us from the slave era, when white women fought in court to keep “ownership” of their slaves, through the centuries of colonialism, when they offered a soft face for brutal tactics, to the modern workplace, White Tears/Brown Scars tells a charged story of white women’s active participation in campaigns of oppression. It offers a long overdue validation of the experiences of women of color.

Discussing subjects as varied as The Hunger Games, Alexandria Ocasio–Cortez, the viral BBQ Becky video, and 19th century lynchings of Mexicans in the American Southwest, Ruby Hamad undertakes a new investigation of gender and race. She shows how the division between innocent white women and racialized, sexualized women of color was created, and why this division is crucial to confront.” -Provided by the publisher

Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation

Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation

“In this hip, hilarious and truly eye-opening cultural history, menstruation is talked about as never before. Flow spans its fascinating, occasionally wacky and sometimes downright scary story: from mikvahs (ritual cleansing baths) to menopause, hysteria to hysterectomies—not to mention the Pill, cramps, the history of underwear, and the movie about puberty they showed you in 5th grade.

Flow answers such questions as: What’s the point of getting a period? What did women do before pads and tampons? What about new drugs that promise to end periods—a hot idea or not? Sex during your period: gross or a turn-on? And what’s normal, anyway?  With color reproductions of (campy) historical ads and early (excruciating) femcare devices, it also provides a fascinating (and mind-boggling) gallery of this complex, personal and uniquely female process.” -Provided by the publisher


A Thousand Years Over A Hot Stove

A Thousand Years Over A Hot Stove“A stunningly illustrated book that celebrates the power of food throughout American history and in women's lives. Filled with classic recipes and inspirational stories, A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove will make you think twice about the food on your plate. Here is the first book to recount how American women have gathered, cooked, and prepared food for lovers, strangers, and family throughout the ages. We find native women who pried nourishment from the wilderness, mothers who sold biscuits to buy their children's freedom, immigrant wives who cooked old foods in new homes to provide comfort. From church bake sales to microwaving moms, this book is a celebration of women's lives, homes, and communities. Over fifty recipes, from Federal Pancakes to Sweet Potato Pie, are beautifully presented along with over one hundred images from artists, photographers, and rare sources.” -Provided by the publisher