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Books for Women’s History Month

From the civil rights movement to women’s basketball, astronomy, and Britney Spears—celebrate Women’s History Month with a book about women!

March 8, 2021

Photo: Mary Jackson working at NASA Langley, 2 June 1977.

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

The Library of Congress has joined several other United States agencies in commemorating and encouraging the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history. You can learn more about Women’s History Month by visiting the official Women’s History Month website.

There, you will find exhibits and collections on subjects like art, culture, politics and law, history, war, women’s rights, and more—plus great online events!

 

American Heroines

American Heroines
The Spirited Women Who Shaped Our Country

Kay Bailey Hutchison

American Heroines blends autobiographical information about the Texas senator author’s own life and family with explorations into the lives of women who have made significant contributions to American history and society, including Red Cross founder Clara Barton, aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart, and Fortune 500 CEO Carlton Fiorina.

America's Women

America’s Women
Four Hundred Years Of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, And Heroines

Gail Collins

America’s Women traces the history of women in America, from the female settlers who vanished with Roanoke, to the feminists of the civil rights movement, to the twenty-first century, noting the societal and political rules that influenced fashion, attitudes, education, sex, health, and work.

The Book of Gutsy Women

The Book Of Gutsy Women

Hillary Rodham Clinton, Chelsea Clinton

Hillary Rodham Clinton and her daughter, Chelsea, share the stories of the gutsy women who have inspired them—women with the courage to stand up to the status quo, ask hard questions, and get the job done.

So how did they do it? The answers are as unique as the women themselves. Civil rights activist Dorothy Height, LGBTQ trailblazer Edie Windsor, and swimmer Diana Nyad kept pushing forward, no matter what. Writers like Rachel Carson and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie named something no one had dared talk about before. Historian Mary Beard used wit to open doors that were once closed, and Wangari Maathai, who sparked a movement to plant trees, understood the power of role modeling. Harriet Tubman and Malala Yousafzai looked fear in the face and persevered. Nearly every single one of these women was fiercely optimistic—they had faith that their actions could make a difference. And they were right

Crafting With Feminism 

Crafting With Feminism
25 Girl-Powered Projects To Smash The Patriarchy

Bonnie Burton

Crafting with Feminism features 25 irreverent and easy-to-make projects that celebrate everything that rocks about girls, gals, and badass women.

Eunice

Eunice
The Kennedy Who Changed The World

Eileen McNamara

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Eileen McNamara examines the life and times of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, covering her Stanford education, her inspirational relationship with her sister Rosemary, her advocacy on behalf of disabled citizens and the solutions she envisioned that helped engineer one of the greatest civil rights movements of the modern world.

A Few Good Women

A Few Good Women
America’s Military Women From World War I To The Wars In Iraq And Afghanistan

Evelyn Monahan

A Few Good Women documents the experiences of women in the U.S. military corps throughout the past century, drawing on interviews, personal correspondence and diary entries to trace their struggles with sexual discrimination, contributions in battle and post-service lives.

From Eve to Dawn 

From Eve To Dawn
A History Of Women In The World

Marilyn French

A history of women from prehistoric times up to the present day, examining the changing roles of women in different ages, and covering such topics as work, marriage, family, sex roles, religion, and politics.

The Glass Universe

The Glass Universe
How The Ladies Of The Harvard Observatory Took The Measure Of The Stars

Dava Sobel

In the mid-nineteenth century, the Harvard College Observatory began employing women as calculators, or “human computers,” to interpret the observations their male counterparts made via telescope each night. As photography transformed the practice of astronomy, the ladies turned to studying the stars captured nightly on glass photographic plates.

The “glass universe” of half a million plates that Harvard amassed over the ensuing decades enabled the women to make extraordinary discoveries that attracted worldwide acclaim. They helped discern what stars were made of, divided the stars into meaningful categories for further research, and found a way to measure distances across space by starlight.

Headstrong

Headstrong
52 Women Who Changed Science-And The World

Rachel Swaby

In 2013, the New York Times published an obituary for Yvonne Brill. It began: “She made a mean beef stroganoff, followed her husband from job to job, and took eight years off from work to raise three children.” It wasn’t until the second paragraph that readers discovered why the Times had devoted several hundred words to her life: Brill was a brilliant rocket scientist who invented a propulsion system to keep communications satellites in orbit, and had recently been awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.

The obituary—and consequent outcry—prompted the question: who are the role models for today’s female scientists? Headstrong delivers a response, presenting 52 women at their best—while encouraging and inspiring a new generation of girls to put on their lab coats.

Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures
The American Dream And The Untold Story Of The Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win The Space Race

Margot Lee Shetterly

Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space.

Among these problem-solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African American women, some of the brightest minds of their generation. Even as Virginia’s Jim Crow laws required them to be segregated from their white counterparts, the women of Langley’s all-black West Computing group helped America achieve a decisive victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War, and complete domination of the heavens.

Ida B. the Queen

Ida B. The Queen
The Extraordinary Life And Legacy Of Ida B. Wells

Michelle Duster and Hannah Giorgis

Written by her great-granddaughter, Ida B. The Queen is 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.

In These Girls Hope Is a Muscle

In These Girls Hope Is A Muscle
A True Story Of Hoop Dreams And One Very Special Team

Madeleine Blais

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Madeleine Blais presents the story of a high-school girls’ basketball team and their championship season, sharing individual profiles of the girls on the team and their combined drive for excellence.

Jailed For Freedom

Jailed For Freedom
American Women Win The Vote

Doris Stevens

Jailed for Freedom is the dramatic documentation of women’s struggle to win the vote is brought to light by a firsthand witness who reveals, among other facts, the imprisonment, vilification and brutality women experienced during their fight for their eventual political victory.

Make Trouble

Make Trouble
Standing Up, Speaking Out, And Finding The Courage To Lead

Cecile Richards

From the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Make Trouble is a memoir about learning to lead and make change, based on a lifetime of fighting for women’s rights and social justice.

Mr. President, How Long Must We Wait?

Mr. President, How Long Must We Wait?
Alice Paul, Woodrow Wilson, And The Fight For The Right To Vote 

Tina Cassidy

In Mr. President, How Long Must We Wait?, Cassidy examines the complex relationship between suffragist leader Alice Paul and President Woodrow Wilson, revealing the life-risking measures that Paul and her supporters endured to gain voting rights for American women.

My Beloved World

My Beloved World

Sonia Sotomayor

The first Hispanic-American on the U.S. Supreme Court shares the story of her life before becoming a judge, describing such experiences as her youth in a Bronx housing project, her relationship with a passionately spiritual grandparent, the ambition that fueled her ivy-league education and the individuals who helped shaped her career.

My Life on the Road

My Life On The Road

Gloria Steinem

A feminist activist and co-founder of “Ms.” magazine presents a memoir comprised of reflections on definitive events in her career, from her time on the campaign trail and interactions with political leaders to her visits to India and her encounters with”civilian” feminists.

My Own Words

My Own Words

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

In the first book by the Supreme Court Justice since her 1993 appointment, Ginsburg collects engaging, serious and playful writings and speeches on topics ranging from gender equality and the workings of the Court to Judaism and the value of looking beyond U.S. shores when interpreting the Constitution.

No Higher Honor

No Higher Honor
A Memoir Of My Years In Washington

Condoleezza Rice

Former national security advisor and secretary of state Condoleezza Rice offers the compelling story of her eight years serving at the highest levels of government, including the difficult job she faced in the wake of 9/11.

Notorious RBG

Notorious Rbg
The Life And Times Of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik

In this lively illustrated biography of the feminist icon and legal pioneer, readers can get to know the Supreme Court Justice and fierce Jewish grandmother, who has changed the world despite our struggle with the unfinished business of gender equality and civil rights, standing as a testament to what a little chutzpah can do.

Radium Girls 

Radium Girls
The Dark Story Of America’s Shining Women

Kate Moore

This full-length account of the struggles of hundreds of women who were exposed to dangerous levels of radium while working factory jobs during World War I describes how they were mislead by their employers and became embroiled in a groundbreaking battle for workers’ rights.

Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks
In Her Own Words 

Susan Reyburn

In this previously unpublished collection of personal writings and photographs, civil rights icon Rosa Parks draws on her private manuscripts and handwritten notes to reveal her inner thoughts, ongoing struggles and decision to become the person who stood up by sitting down.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
A Life

Jane Sherron de Hart

In this large, comprehensive, revelatory biography, Jane De Hart explores the central experiences that crucially shaped Ginsburg’s passion for justice, her advocacy for gender equality, and her desire to make We the People more united and our union more perfect.

From Ruth’s days as a baton twirler at Brooklyn’s James Madison High School, to Cornell University, Harvard and Columbia Law Schools (first in her class), to being a law professor at Rutgers University (one of the few women in the field and fighting pay discrimination), hiding her second pregnancy so as not to risk losing her job; founding the Women’s Rights Law Reporter, writing the brief for the first case that persuaded the Supreme Court to strike down a sex-discriminatory state law, then at Columbia (the law school’s first tenured female professor); becoming the director of the women’s rights project of the ACLU, persuading the Supreme Court in a series of decisions to ban laws that denied women full citizenship status with men.

Sally Ride

Sally Ride
America’s First Woman In Space

Lynn Sherr

A portrait of the first American woman astronaut covers her service aboard the panel that investigated the shuttle disasters, her co-founding of a science-education organization for girls, and her guarded personal life.

The Scarlet Sisters

The Scarlet Sisters
Sex, Suffrage, And Scandal In The Gilded Age

Myra MacPherson

The adventures of two sisters who tried to overcome the male-dominated social norms of the late nineteenth century and achieved a remarkable list of firsts, including the first woman-run brokerage house and the first woman to run for president.

Shattering the Glass 

Shattering The Glass
The Remarkable History Of Women’s Basketball

Pamela Grundy

A history of women’s basketball in the United States, tracing its invention in the late-nineteenth century through its current high-profile position today, sharing portraits of past and current contributors while exploring the sport’s relationship to changing ideas about women’s equality.

She Came to Slay

She Came To Slay
The Life And Times Of Harriet Tubman 

Erica Armstrong Dunbar

A lively, informative and illustrated tribute to one of the most exceptional women in American history—Harriet Tubman—looks at a heroine whose fearlessness and activism still resonates today.

She Caused a Riot 

She Caused A Riot
100 Unknown Women Who Built Cities, Sparked Revolutions, And Massively Crushed It

Hannah Jewell

Meet the bold women history has tried to forget… until now! She Caused a Riot is an empowering, no-holds-barred look into the epic adventures and dangerous exploits of 100 inspiring women who were too brave, too brilliant, too unconventional, too political, too poor, not ladylike enough and not white enough to be recognized by their shitty contemporaries. Daring and gift-worthy, this is a bold tribute to the powerful women who came before us.

A Singular Woman

A Singular Woman
The Untold Story Of Barack Obama’s Mother

Janny Scott

Barack Obama has written extensively about his father, but little is known about Stanley Ann Dunham, the fiercely independent woman who raised him, the person he credits for, as he says, “what is best in me.” Here is the missing piece of the story. Dunham’s story moves from Kansas and Washington state to Hawaii and Indonesia. It begins in a time when interracial marriage was still a felony in much of the United States, and culminates in the present, with her son as our president—something she never got to see. It is a poignant look at how character is passed from parent to child, and offers insight into how Obama’s destiny was created early, by his mother’s extraordinary faith in his gifts, and by her unconventional mothering. Finally, it is a heartbreaking story of a woman who died at age fifty-two, before her son would go on to his greatest accomplishments and reflections of what she taught him.

Spinster

Spinster
Making A Life Of One’s Own

Kate Bolick

“Whom to marry, and when will it happen—these two questions define every woman’s existence.”

So begins Spinster, a revelatory and slyly erudite look at the pleasures and possibilities of remaining single. Using her own experiences as a starting point, journalist and cultural critic Kate Bolick invites us into her carefully considered, passionately lived life, weaving together the past and present to examine why­ she—along with over 100 million American women, whose ranks keep growing—remains unmarried.

Spinster introduces a cast of pioneering women from the last century whose genius, tenacity, and flair for drama have emboldened Bolick to fashion her life on her own terms.

Suffrage

Suffrage
Women’s Long Battle For The Vote

Ellen Carol Dubois

Drawing on the latest scholarship, this excellent history by a distinguished scholar of women’s history chronicles the long struggle by women to gain the right to vote, with profiles of the key figures in the campaign, published for the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage.

The Three Mothers

The Three Mothers
How The Mothers Of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, And James Baldwin Shaped A Nation

Anna Malaika Tubbs

A Gates Cambridge Scholar presents a tribute to the mothers of Malcolm X, James Baldwin and Martin Luther King, Jr., to share insights into the prejudices they endured, their commitment to education and their anti-racism advocacy.

Together We Rise

Together We Rise
Behind The Scenes At The Protest Heard Round The World

In celebration of the one-year anniversary of Women’s March, a full-color book offers a front-row seat to one of the most galvanizing movements in American history, with exclusive interviews with Women’s March organizers, never-before-seen photographs and essays by feminist activists.

Trainwreck

Trainwreck
The Women We Love To Hate, Mock, And Fear… And Why

Sady Doyle

From Mary Wollstonecraft—who, for decades after her death, was more famous for her illegitimate child and suicide attempts than for A Vindication of the Rights of Woman—to Charlotte Brontë, Billie Holiday, Sylvia Plath, and even Hillary Clinton, this book dissects a centuries-old phenomenon and asks what it means now, in a time when we have unprecedented access to celebrities and civilians alike, and when women are pushing harder than ever against the boundaries of what it means to ‘behave’.

Vanguard

Vanguard
How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won The Vote, And Insisted On Equality For All

Martha S. Jones

In Vanguard, acclaimed historian Martha Jones offers a sweeping history of African American women’s political lives in America, recounting how they fought for, won, and used the right to the ballot and how they fought against both racism and sexism.

From 1830s Boston to the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965 and beyond to Shirley Chisholm, Stacey Abrams, and Kamala Harris, Jones excavates the lives and work of black women who, although in many cases suffragists, were never single-issue activists. She recounts the lives of Maria Stewart, the first American woman to speak about politics before a mixed audience of men and women African Methodist Episcopal preacher Jarena Lee Reconstruction-era advocate for female suffrage Frances Ellen Watkins Harper Boston abolitionist, religious leader, and women’s club organizer Eliza Ann Gardner, and other hidden figures who were pioneers for both gender and racial equality.

We Should All Be Feminists

We Should All Be Feminists

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

In this essay—adapted from her TEDx talk of the same name—Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, award-winning author of Americanah, offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century, one rooted in inclusion and awareness. Drawing extensively on her own experiences and her understanding of the often masked realities of sexual politics, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman now—and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.

Well-behaved Women Seldom Make History

Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

The Pulitzer and Bancroft Prize-winning author of A Midwife’s Tale looks at the making of history from a woman’s perspective, looking at three key works: the fifteenth-century Book of the City of Ladies by Christine de Pizan, Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s memoirs, and Virginia Woolf’s essay, A Room of One’s Own, to reveal how women both make and record history.

What Happened

What Happened

Hillary Rodham Clinton

A new book of essays by the former secretary of state includes entries describing her experiences in the 2016 presidential campaign and incorporates hundreds of inspirational quotes that have shaped her life and work.

When Everything Changed

When Everything Changed
The Amazing Journey Of American Women From 1960 To The Present

Gail Collins

Chronicles the revolution of women’s civil rights throughout the past half century, drawing on oral history and research in a variety of disciplines while celebrating Hillary Clinton’s recent presidential campaign.

Why They Marched

Why They Marched
Untold Stories Of The Women Who Fought For The Right To Vote

Susan Ware

Looking beyond the national leadership of the suffrage movement, an acclaimed historian gives voice to the thousands of women from different backgrounds, races and religions whose local passion and protest resounded throughout the land.

A Woman of No Importance

A Woman Of No Importance
The Untold Story Of The American Spy Who Helped Win World War Ii 

Sonia Purnell

Traces the lesser-known story of mid-20th-century spy Virginia Hall, detailing her pivotal role in coordinating Resistance activities in Europe that helped change the course of World War II.

The Woman Who Smashed Codes

The Woman Who Smashed Codes
A True Story Of Love, Spies, And The Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America’s Enemies

Jason Fagone

The true story of Elizebeth Smith, a Shakespeare expert, who met and married a groundbreaking cryptologist and worked with him to discover and expose Nazi spy rings in South America by cracking multiple versions of the Enigma machine.

The Woman's Hour

The Woman’s Hour
The Great Fight To Win The Vote

Elaine Weiss

An account of the 1920 ratification of the constitutional amendment that granted voting rights to women traces the culmination of seven decades of legal battles and cites the pivotal contributions of famous suffragists and political leaders.

Women in Science

Women In Science
50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed The World

Rachel Ignotofsky

A collection of artworks inspired by the lives and achievements of fifty famous women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, from the ancient world to the present, profiles each notable individual.

The Women's Suffrage Movement

The Women’s Suffrage Movement

Sally Roesch Wagner

Compiles eighty-four texts from suffragists with ten introductions providing historical context for the writings in each group, with a focus on incorporating race, class, and gender, and highlighting minority voices.

Women's Letters

Women’s Letters
America From The Revolutionary War To The Present

Lisa Grunwald

A survey of American history collects more than four hundred letters, arranged chronologically by era, that document the experiences of women representing all walks of life from the eighteenth century to the present.

 

Fiction

The Age of Innocence

The Age Of Innocence

Edith Wharton

Engaged to the docile May Welland, Newland Archer falls madly in love with the nonconformist Countess Olenska, an older woman with a reputation, but his allegiance to the social code of their set makes their love an impossibility.

The Bluest Eye

The Bluest Eye

Toni Morrison

Pecola Breedlove, a young black girl, prays every day for beauty. Mocked by other children for the dark skin, curly hair, and brown eyes that set her apart, she yearns for normalcy, for the blond hair and blue eyes that she believes will allow her to finally fit in. Yet as her dream grows more fervent, her life slowly starts to disintegrate in the face of adversity and strife. A powerful examination of our obsession with beauty and conformity, Toni Morrison’s virtuosic first novel asks powerful questions about race, class, and gender with the subtlety and grace that have always characterized her writing.

The Boston girl 

The Boston Girl

Anita Diamant

A New York Times Bestselling Author, Addie Baum was born in 1900 to immigrant parents who were unprepared for America and its effect on their three daughters. Her intelligence and curiosity take her to a world her parents can’t imagine: dreaming of going to college, Addie wants a career and to find true love. Now eighty-five, Addie tells the story of her life to her granddaughter, who has asked “How did you get to be the woman you are today?”

Caroline

Caroline

Sarah Miller

In the frigid days of February, 1870, Caroline Ingalls, her husband Charles, and their little girls, Mary and Laura, leave the familiar comforts of the Big Woods of Wisconsin and head west to settle in a beautiful, unpredictable land full of promise and peril—the Kansas Indian Territory. The pioneer life is a hard one, especially for a pregnant woman with no friends or kin to turn to for comfort or help. The burden of work must be shouldered alone, sickness tended without the aid of doctors, and babies birthed without the accustomed hands of mothers or sisters.

But Caroline’s world is also full of tender joys. In adapting to this strange new place and transforming a rough log house built by Charles into a home, Caroline must draw on untapped wells of strength she does not know she possesses. For more than eighty years, generations of readers have been enchanted by the adventures of the American frontier’s most famous child, Laura Ingalls Wilder, in the Little House books. Now, that familiar story is retold in this captivating tale of family, fidelity, hardship, love, and survival that vividly reimagines our past.

Emma

Emma

Jane Austen

A literary classic following the genteel women of Georgian-Regency England in their most cherished sport: matchmaking. Emma is spoiled, headstrong, and self-satisfied. After a couple she has introduced gets married, she greatly overestimates her own matchmaking abilities and, blind to the dangers of meddling in other people’s lives, proceeds to forge ahead in her new interest despite objections. What follows is a comedy of manners, in which Emma repeatedly counsels her friends for or against their marriage prospects, absent any notice of their true emotions or desires.

The Invention of Wings

The Invention Of Wings

Sue Monk Kidd

The story follows Hetty ‘Handful’ Grimké, a Charleston slave, and Sarah, the daughter of the wealthy Grimké family. The novel begins on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership over Handful, who is to be her handmaid. “The Invention of Wings” follows the next thirty-five years of their lives.

A Short History of Women

A Short History Of Women

Kate Walbert

Inspired by a suffragist ancestor who starved herself to promote the integration of Cambridge University, Evie refuses to marry and Dorothy defies a ban on photographing the bodies of her dead Iraq War soldier sons, a choice that embarrasses Dorothy’s daughters.

The Tiger's Wife

The Tiger’s Wife

Téa Obreht

Remembering childhood stories her grandfather once told her, young physician Natalia becomes convinced that he spent his last days searching for “the deathless man,” a vagabond who claimed to be immortal. As Natalia struggles to understand why her grandfather, a deeply rational man would go on such a farfetched journey, she stumbles across a clue that leads her to the extraordinary story of the tiger’s wife.

The Wife

The Wife

Meg Wolitzer

On the eve of her husband’s receipt of a prestigious literary award, Joan Castleman, who has put her own writing ambitions on hold to support her husband, evaluates her choices and decides to end the marriage.

 

DVDs

Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures

Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst

As the United States raced against Russia to put a man in space, NASA found untapped talent in a group of African-American female mathematicians that served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in U.S. history. Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson crossed all gender, race, and professional lines while their brilliance and desire to dream big, beyond anything ever accomplished before by the human race, firmly cemented them in U.S. history as true American heroes.

Iron Jawed Angels

Iron Jawed Angels

Hilary Swank, Frances O’Connor, Julia Ormond, Anjelica Huston, Molly Parker, Patrick Dempsey

The dramatized story of Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, leaders of the suffragist women who fought for the passage of the 19th Amendment. They broke from the mainstream women’s rights movement to create a more activist wing, daring to push the boundaries to secure women’s voting rights in 1920.

Suffragette 

Suffragette

Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Brendan Gleeson, Anne Marie Duff, Ben Whishaw, Romola Garai, Meryl Streep

Inspired by true events, a moving drama exploring the passion and heartbreak of the women who risked everything in their fight for equality in early 20th century Britain. The story centers on Maud, a working wife and mother whose life is forever changed when she is secretly recruited to join the U.K.’s growing suffragette movement. Galvanized by the outlaw fugitive Emmeline Pankhurst, Maud becomes an activist for the cause alongside women from all walks of life.