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Books for Women’s History Month

Learn about the women have made to history, science, culture, and contemporary society.

February 24, 2022

March is Women’s History Month! This month highlights the contributions women have made to history, science, culture, and contemporary society.

Want to read more about women in history? Check out last year’s list, our list for Women’s Equality Day that focuses on women’s right to vote, our list on Women in War, or our list remembering Supreme Court Justice and champion of women’s rights Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Plus, don’t miss out on the exhibits, films, and book talks available on the official Women’s History Month website.

In this list:

 

Women’s Voices

All in

All In
An Autobiography

Billie Jean King

This autobiography from the tennis legend discusses not only her historic accomplishments on the court, but also her activism as a feminist and social justice fighter in the wake of her coming out as gay at age 51.

All that she carried

All That She Carried
The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake

Tiya Miles

The story of how three generations of Black women have passed down a family treasure—a sack filled with a few precious items given from an enslaved woman to her daughter in 1850s South Carolina.

Hill women

Hill Women
Finding Family and a Way Forward in the Appalachian Mountains

Cassie Chambers

After rising from poverty to earn a Harvard degree, an Appalachian lawyer pays tribute to the strong “hill women” who raised and inspired her, and whose values have the potential to rejuvenate a struggling region.

Just as I am

Just As I Am
A Memoir

Cicely Tyson

Tyson has been blessed to grace the stage and screen for six decades. She has been the church girl who once rarely spoke a word; the teenager who sought solace in the verses of the old hymn for which this book is named. A daughter and mother, a sister, and a friend, she is also an observer of human nature and the dreamer of audacious dreams. Here, in her ninth decade, Tyson is a woman who has something meaningful to say.

Out of the shadows

Out of the Shadows
Six Visionary Victorian Women in Search of a Public Voice

Emily Midorikawa

Drawing on diaries, letters and rarely seen memoirs, the author describes the stories of the enterprising Victorian women who used their supposed clairvoyance during the séance craze to win fame, fortune and influence across the era’s rigid boundaries of gender and class.

Poet warrior

Poet Warrior
A Memoir

Joy Harjo

Three-term poet laureate Joy Harjo offers a vivid, lyrical, and inspiring call for love and justice in this contemplation of her trailblazing life.

She come by it natural

She Come By It Natural
Dolly Parton and the Women Who Lived Her Songs

Sarah Smarsh

Growing up amid Kansas wheat fields and airplane factories, Smarsh witnessed firsthand the vulnerabilities and strengths of women in working poverty. Meanwhile, country songs by female artists played in the background, telling powerful stories about life, men, hard times, and surviving. Country music was a language among women—and no one provided that language better than Dolly Parton. Here Smarsh explores the overlooked contributions to social progress by such women as exemplified by Dolly Parton’s life and art. She shows how Parton’s song offer a springboard to examining the intersections of gender, class, and culture.

Three-martini afternoons at the Ritz

Three-Martini Afternoons at the Ritz
The Rebellion of Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton

Gail Crowther

Based on in-depth research and unprecedented archival access, this vividly rendered and empathetic book explores how two of the greatest poets of the 20th century—Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton—became bitter rivals and, eventually, friends.

Windswept

Windswept
Walking the Paths of Trailblazing Women

Annabel Abbs

Part historical inquiry and part memoir, the stories of these writers and artists are laced together by moments in Abb’s own life, beginning with her poet father who raised her in the Welsh countryside as an “experiment,” according to the principles of Rousseau. Abbs explores a forgotten legacy of moving on foot and discovers how it has helped women throughout history to find their voices, to reimagine their lives, and to break free from convention.

 

Women In Broadcasting

The correspondents

The Correspondents
Six Women Writers on the Front Lines of World War II

Judith Mackrell

Following six remarkable woman as their lives and careers intertwine, this riveting, untold history of a group of heroic women reporters who revolutionized the narrative of World War II reveals how they were forced to fight for the right to work on equal terms with men.

Susan, Linda, Nina, & Cokie

Susan, Linda, Nina, & Cokie
The Extraordinary Story of the Founding Mothers of NPR

Lisa Napoli

In the years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, women in the workplace still found themselves relegated to secretarial positions or locked out of jobs entirely. This was especially true in the news business, a backwater of male chauvinism where a woman might be lucky to get a foothold on the ‘women’s pages.’ But when a pioneering nonprofit called National Public Radio came along in the 1970s, and the door to serious journalism opened a crack, four remarkable women came along and blew it off the hinges.

When women invented television

When Women Invented Television
The Untold Story of the Female Powerhouses Who Pioneered the Way We Watch Today

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

The best-selling author of Seinfeldia documents the lesser-known story of how four trailblazing women from the radio era, including Irna Phillips, Gertrude Berg, Hazel Scott, and Betty White, helped establish the foundation of the modern television industry.

 

Women In Science and Medicine

The code breaker

The Code Breaker
Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race

Walter Isaacson

Driven by a passion to understand how nature works and to turn discoveries into inventions, Doudna and her collaborators turned ​a curiosity ​of nature into an invention that will transform the human race: an easy-to-use tool that can edit DNA. Known as CRISPR, it opened a brave new world of medical miracles and moral questions. Isaacson explores the development of CRISPR and the race to create vaccines for coronavirus will hasten our transition to the next great innovation revolution.

The doctors Blackwell

The Doctors Blackwell
How Two Pioneering Sisters Brought Medicine to Women—And Women to Medicine

Janice P. Nimura

The vivid biography of two pioneering sisters who, together, became America’s first female doctors and transformed New York’s medical establishment by creating a hospital by and for women. From Bristol, England, to the new cities of antebellum America, this work of rich history follows the sister doctors as they transform the nineteenth century medical establishment and, in turn, our contemporary one.

My remarkable journey

My Remarkable Journey
A Memoir

Katherine Johnson

The woman at the heart of the New York Times bestseller and Oscar-winning film “Hidden Figures” shares her personal journey from child prodigy in the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia to NASA human computer and her integral role in the early years of the U.S. space program.

The secret history of home economics

The Secret History of Home Economics
How Trailblazing Women Harnessed the Power of Home and Changed the Way We Live

Danielle Dreilinger

The term “home economics” may conjure traumatic memories of lopsided hand-sewn pillows or sunken muffins. But common conception obscures the story of the revolutionary science of better living. The field exploded opportunities for women in the twentieth century by reducing domestic work and providing jobs as professors, engineers, chemists, and businesspeople.

Unwell women

Unwell Women
Misdiagnosis and Myth in a Man-Made World

Elinor Cleghorn

Cleghorn was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease after a long period of being told her symptoms were anything from psychosomatic to a possible pregnancy. She turned to history for answers, and found an enraging legacy of suffering, mystification, and misdiagnosis. Here she traces the almost unbelievable history of how medicine has failed women by treating their bodies as alien and other, often to perilous effect. In exploring the relationship between women, illness, and medicine, she shows how being unwell has become normalized in society and culture, and that women have long been distrusted as reliable narrators of their own bodies and pain.

The woman they could not silence

The Woman They Could Not Silence
One Woman, Her Incredible Fight for Freedom, and the Men Who Tried to Make Her Disappear

Kate Moore

In 1860, Elizabeth Packard, committed to an insane asylum by her traitorous husband, becomes a champion for the many rational women on her ward, discovering that the merit of losing everything is that you then have nothing to lose.

Women in white coats

Women in White Coats
How the First Women Doctors Changed the World of Medicine

Olivia Campbell

In the early 1800s, women were dying in large numbers from treatable diseases because they avoided receiving medical care. Examinations performed by male doctors were often demeaning and even painful. Motivated by personal loss and frustration over inadequate medical care, Elizabeth Blackwell, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Sophia Jex-Blake fought for a woman’s place in the male-dominated medical field. Though very different in personality and circumstance, together these women built women-run hospitals and teaching colleges—creating for the first time medical care for women by women.

 

Women, Civil Rights, and #MeToo

The agitators

The Agitators
Three Friends Who Fought for Abolition and Women’s Rights

Dorothy Wickenden

From the intimate perspective of three friends and neighbors in mid-nineteenth century Auburn, New York. Acclaimed author Dorothy Wickenden tells the fascinating and crucially American stories of abolition, the underground railroad, the early women’s rights movement, and the Civil War.

Believing

Believing
Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence

Anita Hill

From the woman who gave the landmark testimony against Clarence Thomas as a sexual menace, a new manifesto about the origins and course of gender violence in our society; a combination of memoir, personal accounts, law, and social analysis, and a powerful call to arms from one of our most prominent and poised survivors.

Civil rights queen

Civil Rights Queen
Constance Baker Motley and the Struggle for Equality

Tomiko Brown-Nagin

Born to an aspirational blue-collar family during the Great Depression, Constance Baker Motley was expected to find herself a good career as a hair dresser. Instead, she became the first black woman to argue a case in front of the Supreme Court, the first of ten she would eventually argue. The only black woman member in the legal team at the NAACP’s Inc. Fund at the time, she defended Martin Luther King in Birmingham, helped to argue in Brown vs. The Board of Education, and played a critical role in vanquishing Jim Crow laws throughout the South. She was the first black woman elected to the state Senate in New York, the first woman elected Manhattan Borough President, and the first black woman appointed to the federal judiciary.

The family Roe

The Family Roe
An American Story

Joshua Prager

Despite her famous pseudonym, “Jane Roe,” no one knows the truth about Norma McCorvey, whose unwanted pregnancy in 1969 opened a great fracture in American life. Journalist Joshua Prager spent hundreds of hours with Norma, discovered her personal papers—a previously unseen trove—and witnessed her final moments. The Family Roe presents her life in full. Propelled by the crosscurrents of sex and religion, gender and class, it is a life that tells the story of abortion in America.

Ida B. the queen

Ida B. the Queen
The Extraordinary Life and Legacy of Ida B. Wells

Michelle Duster, Hannah Giorgis

Written by her great-granddaughter, a historical portrait of the boundary-breaking civil rights pioneer covers Wells’ early years as a slave, her famous acts of resistance, and her achievements as a journalist and anti-lynching activist.

Silenced no more

Silenced No More
Surviving My Journey to Hell and Back

Sarah Ransome

Finding the courage to finally speak out, the granddaughter of a wealthy British baron, who was recruited into Jeffrey Epstein’s network when she was 22 and imprisoned by a web of co-conspirators, stands her truth and encourages others to do the same.

Start by believing

Start by Believing
Larry Nassar’s Crimes, the Institutions That Enabled Him, and the Brave Women Who Stopped a Monster

John Barr, Dan Murphy

An investigative reporter for ESPN deconstructs the epic institutional failures that allowed an osteopathic physician to sexually abuse Olympic gymnasts under the guise of medical treatment for years and the brave women who fought back against the dysfunction.

Unbound

Unbound
My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement

Tarana Burke

The founder and activist behind the “me too” movement shares her own story of how she came to say those two words herself after being sexually assaulted, in this debut memoir that explores how to piece back together our fractured selves.

Until I am free

Until I Am Free
Fannie Lou Hamer’s Enduring Message to America

Keisha N. Blain

Blending together social commentary, biography and history, an award-winning historian challenges us to listen to Fannie Lou Hamer, a working-poor and disabled Black woman activist and intellectual of the civil rights movement, as we grapple with modern concerns around race, inequality and social justice.

 

Women In Politics

Both/and

Both/And
A Life in Many Worlds

Huma Abedin

Hillary Clinton’s famously private top aide and longtime advisor emerges from the wings of American political history to take command of her own story.

The chancellor

The Chancellor
The Remarkable Odyssey of Angela Merkel

Kati Marton

Part riveting political biography, part intimate human story of a complete outsider, this great morality tale paints a fascinating portrait of a woman who, surviving extraordinary challenges, transformed her own country and returned it to the global stage.

Elizabeth & Margaret

Elizabeth & Margaret
The Intimate World of the Windsor Sisters

Andrew Morton

A biography of Queen Elizabeth II and her sister Margaret examines their early idyllic youth as the closest of sisters as well as their often fraught relationship after their father’s death and Elizabeth’s ascension to the throne.

The man who hated women

The Man Who Hated Women
Sex, Censorship, and Civil Liberties in the Gilded Age

Amy Sohn

A New York Times best-selling author tells the overlooked story of eight extraordinary women who, between 1873 and 1915, attempted to fight Anthony Comstock, an anti-vice activist and U.S. postal inspector who penalized the mailing of contraception and obscenity with long sentences and steep fines.

 

Women In War

All the frequent troubles of our days

All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days
The True Story of the American Woman at the Heart of the German Resistance to Hitler

Rebecca Donner

Part biography, part political thriller, part scholarly detective story that draws on letters, diary entries, notes smuggled out of a Berlin prison, and other documents, this true story chronicles the life and brutal death of the American leader of one of the largest underground resistance groups in Germany.

The daughters of Kobani

The Daughters of Kobani
A Story of Rebellion, Courage, and Justice

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

The story of how an all-female Kurdish militia drove ISIS from the Syrian town of Kobani, empowering the women of that region and earning the respect and support of U.S. Special Operations Forces.

The dressmakers of Auschwitz

The Dressmakers of Auschwitz
The True Story of the Women Who Sewed to Survive

Lucy Adlington

Drawing on a vast array of sources, including interviews with the last surviving seamstress, this powerful book tells the story of the brave women who used their sewing skills to survive the Holocaust, exposing the greed, cruelty and hypocrisy of the Third Reich.

Every day is a gift

Every Day is a Gift
A Memoir

Tammy Duckworth

The Iraq War veteran traces her impoverished childhood, her decision to join the Army, the months spent recovering from the RPG attack that shot down her helicopter and nearly took her life, and her subsequent mission of serving in elected office.

The girls who stepped out of line

The Girls Who Stepped Out of Line
Untold Stories of the Women Who Changed the Course of World War II

Mari K. Eder

The Girls Who Stepped Out of Line takes you inside the lives and experiences of 15 unknown women heroes from the Greatest Generation, the women who served, fought, struggled, and made things happen during WWII-in and out of uniform, for theirs is a legacy destined to embolden generations of women to come.

A house in the mountains

A House in the Mountains
The Women Who Liberated Italy From Fascism

Caroline Moorehead

In the late summer of 1943, when Italy broke with the Germans and joined the Allies after suffering catastrophic military losses, an Italian Resistance was born. Four young Piedmontese women—Ada, Frida, Silvia and Bianca—living secretly in the mountains surrounding Turin, risked their lives to overthrow Italy’s authoritarian government. They were among the thousands of Italians who joined the Partisan effort to help the Allies liberate their country from the German invaders and their Fascist collaborators. What made this partisan war all the more extraordinary was the number of women like this brave quartet who swelled its ranks.

The light of days

The Light of Days
The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler’s Ghettos

Judy Batalion

One of the most important untold stories of World War II. The light of days is a soaring landmark history that brings to light the extraordinary accomplishments of brave Jewish women who helped weaponize Poland’s Jewish youth groups to resist the Nazis. Witnesses to the brutal murder of their families and the violent destruction of their communities, a cadre of Jewish women in Poland—some still in their teens—became the nerves of a wide-ranging resistance network that fought the Nazis.

The nine

The Nine
The True Story of a Band of Women Who Survived the Worst of Nazi Germany

Gwen Strauss

The nine women were all under thirty when they joined the resistance. They smuggled arms through Europe, harbored parachuting agents, coordinated communications between regional sectors, trekked escape routes to Spain and hid Jewish children in scattered apartments. They were arrested by French police, interrogated and tortured by the Gestapo. The group formed along the way, meeting at different points, in prison, in transit, and at Ravensbrück. By the time they were enslaved at the labor camp in Leipzig, they were a close-knit group of friends. During the final days of the war, forced onto a death march, the nine chose their moment and made a daring escape.

The princess spy

The Princess Spy
The True Story of World War Ii Spy Aline Griffith, Countess of Romanones

Larry Loftis

Chronicles the extraordinary life of OSS spy Aline Griffith, who performed deep-cover intelligence missions during and after World War II throughout the upper echelons of European politics and society.

You don't belong here

You Don’t Belong Here
How Three Women Rewrote the Story of War

Elizabeth Becker

Drawing on interviews, personal letters and profound insight, an award-winning journalist presents the unforgettable—and long-buried—story of three female journalists forging their place in a land of men during the Vietnam war, often at great personal sacrifice.