Women’s History Month: Insightful New Reads

Women’s History Month is a celebration of the often overlooked contributions of women to history, culture and society and has been observed annually in the month of March in the United States since 1987.  From Abigail Adams to Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth to Rosa Parks, the timeline of women’s history milestones stretches back to the founding of the United States.

Check out these new titles in our Library collection that highlight the stories of amazing women, explore milestones in the womens’ rights movement, deal with social/cultural issues revolving around women, or offer biographies of inspirational women figures.

The American Women’s Almanac: 500 Years of Making History

Containing a fascinating mix of biographies, little-known or misunderstood historical facts, enlightening essays on significant legislation and movements, this book also contains numerous photographs and illustrations.  An insightful look on the long-ignored influence, inspiration, and impact of women on U.S. society and culture.

American Women’s Suffrage: Voices From the Long Struggle for the Vote 1776-1965 edited by Susan Ware

The full, definitive story of the movement for voting rights in all its diversity and intersectionality, told through the voices of the women and men who lived it: the most recognizable figures in the campaign for women’s suffrage, like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, but also the black, Chinese, and American Indian women and men who were not only essential to the movement but expanded its directions and aims, and the anti-suffragists who worried about where the country would head if suffrage were universal. 

America’s First Freedom Rider: Elizabeth Jennings, Chester A Arthur, and the Early Fight for Civil Rights by Jerry Mikorenda

Mikorenda brings to light the little-known story of civil rights champion Elizabeth Jennings, who broke racial barriers by integrating New York’s transit system a century before Rosa Parks.

Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll by Maureen Mahon

Mahon draws on recordings, press coverage, archival materials, and interviews to document the history of African American women in rock and roll between the 1950s and the 1980s. Mahon details the musical contributions and cultural impact of Big Mama Thornton, LaVern Baker, Betty Davis, Tina Turner, Merry Clayton, Labelle, the Shirelles, and others, demonstrating how dominant views of gender, race, sexuality, and genre affected their careers. 

Dressed for a Dance in the Snow by Monika Zgustova ; translated from the Spanish by Julie Jones

A poignant and unexpectedly inspirational account of women’s suffering and resilience in Stalin’s forced labor camps, diligently transcribed in the kitchens and living rooms of nine survivors.  Zgustová’s collection of interviews with former female prisoners not only chronicles the hardships of the camps, but also serves as testament to the power of beauty in face of adversity.

The Equivalents: A Story of Art, Female Friendship, and Liberation in the 1960s by Maggie Doherty

An important debut work of narrative nonfiction: the timely, never-before-told story of five brilliant, passionate women-poets Anne Sexton and Maxine Kumin, painter Barbara Swan, sculptor Mariana Pineda, and writer Tillie Olsen- who, in the early 1960s, converged at the newly founded Radcliffe Institute for Independent Study, stepping outside the domestic sphere and shaping the course of feminism in ways that still resonate today. Drawing from their notebooks, letters, lecture recordings, journals, and finished works, Doherty weaves from these women’s own voices a moving narrative of friendship, ambition, activism, and art.

Fighting for Space: Two Pilots and their Historic Battle for Female Spaceflight by Amy Shira Teitel

The mostly-unknown tale of Jackie Cochran and Jerrie Cobb-two accomplished aviatrixes, one generation apart, who each dreamed of being the first woman in space, but along the way battled their egos, their expectations, and ultimately the patriarchal society that stood between them and the stars.

Hollywood and the Female Body: A History of Idolization and Objectification by Stephen Handzo

Handzo carefully traces Hollywood’s treatment of the female body through the decades, from the earliest moving images on film to the silent movie era to the talkies, the Golden Age of Hollywood, through the 1950s, ’60s, ’70s, and on to the more recent past, and the present, including the #MeToo movement. Censorship, production and morality codes, and pornography and violence against women are among the issues examined in this wide-ranging survey of that history.

A House in the Mountains: The Women Who Liberated Italy from Fascism by Caroline Moorehead

Four young Piedmontese women–Ada, Frida, Silvia and Bianca–lived secretly in the mountains surrounding Turin, and risked their lives to overthrow Italy’s authoritarian government in the late summer of 1942. Drawing on a rich cache of previously untranslated sources, historian Moorehead tells the little-known story of the women of the Italian partisan movement fighting for freedom against fascism in all its forms, while Europe collapsed in smoldering ruins around them. 

The Indomitable Florence Finch: The Untold Story of a War Widow Turned Resistance Fighter and Savior of American POWs by Robert J. Mrazek

The riveting story of an unsung World War II hero who saved countless American lives in the Philippines, told by an award-winning military historian.  When Florence Finch died at the age of 101, few of her Ithaca, NY neighbors knew that this unassuming Filipina native was a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, whose courage and sacrifice were unsurpassed in the Pacific War against Japan. Long accustomed to keeping her secrets close in service of the Allies, she waited fifty years to reveal the story of those dramatic and harrowing days to her own children.

Kamala’s Way: An American Life by Dan Morain

A revelatory biography of the first Black woman to stand for Vice President charts how the daughter of two immigrants in segregated California became one of the most effective power players in the United States.

The Lost Girls: Love & Literature in Wartime London by D.J. Taylor

A sumptuous cultural history as seen through the lives of four enigmatic women.

Chic, glamorous, and bohemian, as likely to be found living in a rat-haunted maisonette as dining at the Ritz, Lys Lubbock, Sonia Brownell, Barbara Skelton, and Janetta Parlade cut a swath through English literary and artistic life at the height of World War II.

Me & Patsy, Kickin’ Up Dust: My Friendship with Patsy Cline by Loretta Lynn, with Patsy Lynn Russell 

Loretta Lynn and the late Patsy Cline are legends–country icons and sisters of the heart. For the first time ever Loretta tells their story: a celebration of their music and their relationship up until Patsy’s tragic and untimely death. Full of laughter and tears, this eye-opening, heartwarming memoir paints a picture of two stubborn, spirited country gals who’d be damned if they’d let men or convention tell them how to be.

Nazi Wives: The Women at the Top of Hitler’s Germany by James Wyllie

A fascinating look at the personal lives, psychological profiles, and marriages of the wives of officers in Hitler’s inner circle. Goering, Goebbels, Himmler, Heydrich, Hess, Bormann-names synonymous with power and influence in the Third Reich. Perhaps less familiar are Carin, Emmy, Magda, Margarete, Lina, Ilse and Gerda… These are the women behind the infamous men-complex individuals with distinctive personalities who were captivated by Hitler and whose everyday lives were governed by Nazi ideology. Throughout the rise and fall of Nazism these women loved and lost, raised families and quarreled with their husbands and each other, all the while jostling for position with the Fuhrer himself.

Our Bodies, Their Battlefields: War Through the Lives of Women by Christina Lamb

Lamb chronicles extraordinary tragedy and challenges in the lives of women in wartime. And none is more devastating than the increase of the use of rape as a weapon of war. Visiting warzones including the Congo, Rwanda, Nigeria, Bosnia, and Iraq, and spending time with the Rohingya fleeing Myanmar, she records the harrowing stories of survivors, from Yazidi girls kept as sex slaves by ISIS fighters and the beekeeper risking his life to rescue them; to the thousands of schoolgirls abducted across northern Nigeria by Boko Haram, to the Congolese gynecologist who stitches up more rape victims than anyone on earth.

Revolutions: How Women Changed the World on Two Wheels by Hannah Ross

 Ross highlights the stories of extraordinary women cyclists and all-female cycling groups over time and around the world, and demonstrates both the feminist power of cycling and its present-day issues.  Revolutions also celebrates women setting records and demanding equality in competitive cycling, as well as cyclists in countries including Afghanistan, India, and Saudi Arabia who are inspiring women to take up space on the road, trails, and elsewhere. 

The Season: A History of the Debutante by Kristen Richardson

Digging into the roots of the debutante ritual, with its ballrooms and white dresses, Richardson — herself descended from a line of debutantes — was fascinated to discover that the debutante ritual places our contemporary ideas about women and marriage in a new light. Richardson shares debutantes’ own words — from diaries, letters, and interviews — throughout her vivid telling, beginning in Henry VIII’s era, sweeping through Queen Elizabeth I’s court, crossing back and forth the Atlantic to colonial Philadelphia, African American communities, Jane Austen’s England, and Mrs. Astor’s parties, ultimately arriving at the contemporary New York Infirmary and International balls.

The Sediments of Time: My Lifelong Search for the Past by Meave Leakey

Leakey’s thrilling, high-stakes memoir-written with her daughter Samira-encapsulates her distinguished life and career on the front lines of the hunt for our human origins, a quest made all the more notable by her stature as a woman in a highly competitive, male-dominated field.

The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr , Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation by Anna Malaika Tubbs

Scholar Tubbs celebrates Black motherhood by telling the story of the three women who raised and shaped some of America’s most pivotal heroes: Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin. Berdis, Alberta, and Louise passed their knowledge to their children with the hope of helping them to survive in a society that would deny their humanity from the very beginning-from Louise teaching her children about their activist roots, to Berdis encouraging James to express himself through writing, to Alberta basing all of her lessons in faith and social justice. 

With Her Fist Raised: Dorothy Pitman Hughes and the Transformative Power of Black Community Activism by Laura L. Lovett

The first biography of Dorothy Pitman Hughes, co-founder of Ms. Magazine and trailblazing Black feminist activist whose work made children, race, and welfare rights central to the women’s movement.

Women and Leadership: Real Lives, Real Lessons by Julia Gillard & Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

In conversation with some of the world’s most powerful and interesting women, this volume  explores gender bias and explores the barriers to women’s participation in politics.

-Archana, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian

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