In honor of Women’s History Month, we have compiled a list of some of our favorite titles in our collection by and about women who have helped shape our history and have paved the way for future generations of women to come. Check out these 15 recommendations and find a new favorite today!
The Agitators: Three Friends Who Fought For Abolition and Women’s Rights by Dorothy Wickenden
From the author of the New York Times bestseller Nothing Daunted, The Agitators chronicles the revolutionary activities of Harriet Tubman, Frances Seward, and Martha Wright: three unlikely collaborators in the quest for abolition and women’s rights.
Tubman was enslaved, Wright was a middle-class Quaker mother of seven, and Seward was the aristocratic wife and moral conscience of her husband, William H. Seward, who served as Lincoln’s Secretary of State. They supported each other as they worked to overturn slavery and achieve full citizenship for African-Americans and women. The Agitators brings a vivid new perspective to the epic American stories of abolition, the Underground Railroad, women’s rights activism, and the Civil War.
Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, From Missiles to the Moon to Mars by Nathalia Holt
Rise of the Rocket Girls tells the stories of the women–known as “human computers”– who broke the boundaries of both gender and science and were instrumental in the space race of the mid-twentieth century. Based on extensive research and interviews with all the living members of the team, Rise of the Rocket Girls offers a unique perspective on the role of women in science: both where we’ve been, and the far reaches of space to which we’re heading.
There She Was: The Secret History of Miss America by Amy Argetsinger
There She Was: The Secret History of Miss America recounts the history of the Miss America beauty pageant and its often contentious relationship with the women’s rights movement. For two years, Washington Post reporter and editor Amy Argetsinger visited pageants and interviewed former winners and contestants to unveil the hidden world of this iconic institution. There She Was spotlights how the pageant survived decades of social and cultural change, collided with a women’s liberation movement that sought to abolish it, and redefined itself alongside evolving ideas about womanhood.
The Queens of Animation: The Untold Story of the Women Who Transformed the World of Disney and Made Cinematic History by Nathalia Holt
In The Queens of Animation, author Nathalia Holt recounts the stories women infiltrated the all-male domain of Disney Studios and used early technologies to create the rich artwork and iconic storylines that would reach millions of viewers across generations.
Based on extensive interviews and exclusive access to archival and personal documents, The Queens of Animation tells the story of their vital contribution to Disney’s golden age and their continued impact on animated filmmaking, culminating in the record-shattering Frozen, Disney’s first female-directed full-length feature film.
Women in White Coats: How the First Women Doctors Changed the World of Medicine by Olivia Campbell
Women in White Coats recounts the remarkable story of three Victorian women who broke down barriers in the medical field to become the first women doctors, revolutionizing the way women receive health care. Women in White Coats tells the history of three pioneering women, Elizabeth Blackwell, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, and Sophia Jex-Blake who, despite countless obstacles, earned medical degrees and paved the way for other women to do the same. Though coming from very different backgrounds, together these women built women-run hospitals and teaching colleges–creating for one of the first times medical care for women by women.
Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker by A’Lelia Bundles
Self Made is the story of Madam C. J. Walker, America’s first female African-American millionaire. Born in 1867, Madam Walker built an empire by developing and marketing a line of cosmetic and hair care products for African-American women, and devoted much of her time and resources to social causes and philanthropy. Self Made is written by Walker’s great-great granddaughter, A’Lelia Bundles, who offers insights into Madam Walker’s role as matriarch in addition to her entrepreneurship; at the heart of the book is Madam Walker’s relationship to her daughter, A’Lelia (the author’s namesake), who was a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance in her own right. This biography was recently adapted into a Netflix miniseries starring Octavia Spencer, a perfect binge-watch for Women’s History Month!
She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey
From the Pulitzer-prize winning reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey comes She Said, the untold story of their groundbreaking investigation into Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment and its consequences for the #MeToo movement. Kantor and Twohey take us for the first time into the very heart of this social shift, reliving in real-time what it took to get the story and giving an up-close portrait of the forces that hindered and spurred change. They describe the surprising journeys of those who spoke up–for the sake of other women, for future generations, and for themselves–and so changed us all.
Also available as an ebook on Libby!
The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore
First discovered by Marie and Pierre Curie in 1898, radium swept the world by storm in the early 1900s, becoming one of the most sought-after products for beauty and medicinal purposes. But the luminous properties of this miraculous element hid a much darker secret beneath its glistening surface. While radium made headlines as a wonder drug, the hundreds of young women working in the radium-dial factories — covered head to toe in the glittering chemical — began to fall ill. Radium Girls is the powerful story of these women’s fight for workers’ rights amidst one of the biggest scandals of industry corruption of the early 20th century.
Also available in Large Print, as an eBook and an eAudiobook on Hoopla, and as an eBook on Libby!
Zora Neale Hurston: A Biography of the Spirit by Deborah G. Plant
Zora Neale Hurston’s writing had all but disappeared from public memory until a revival by Alice Walker in the 1970s. Now widely regarded as a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance and famed for her acclaimed novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, Hurston’s writing also has a connection to Central Florida. Raised in Eatonville, Florida, the setting of much of her later writing, Hurston’s devoted much of her anthropological career to documenting the folk traditions and songs of the area. This new biography by Deborah G. Plant takes into account the whole woman–not just the prolific author of such great works as Their Eyes Were Watching God, Moses, Man of the Mountain, Jonah’s Gourd Vine, Mules and Men, as well as essays, folklore, short stories, and poetry–but the philosopher and the spiritual soul, examining how each is reflected in her career, fiction and nonfiction publications, social and political activity, and, ultimately, her death.
Educated by Tara Westover
This coming-of-age memoir shares the story of one young woman’s fight for education. Growing up without formal education, in a family of isolated survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she took it upon herself to seek knowledge and achieve her academic goals and beyond. This moving account for one woman’s fight for self-determination and academic fulfillment is an inspiring reminder about the vital role of education, and a peek into a world usually hidden from outsiders.
Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang
Blending memoir and eyewitness history, Jung Chang describes the lives of three generations of her family in China: her grandmother, a warlord’s concubine; her mother, a young, idealistic Communist living through the Cultural Revolution; and herself, from brief member of the Red Guard to writer. Translated into over thirty languages with more than ten million copies sold, Wild Swans provides a gripping and moving window of a family caught in the whirlwind of history.
The Lady and Her Monsters: A Tale of Dissections, Real-Life Dr. Frankensteins, and the Creation of Mary Shelley’s Masterpiece by Roseanne Motillo
The Lady and Her Monsters by Roseanne Motillo brings to life the fascinating times, startling science, and real-life horrors behind Mary Shelley’s gothic masterpiece, Frankenstein. Written by Mary Shelley when she was just nineteen years old, Frankenstein, or, the Modern Prometheus is considered by many to be one of the first science fiction novels, and Montillo explores the cultural moment that led to the creation of such a genre. Montillo recounts how—at the intersection of the Romantic Age and the Industrial Revolution—Shelley’s Victor Frankenstein was inspired by actual scientists of the period: curious and daring iconoclasts who were obsessed with the inner workings of the human body and how it might be reanimated after death. With true-life tales of grave robbers, ghoulish experiments, and the ultimate in macabre research—human reanimation—The Lady and Her Monsters is a brilliant consideration of how to read Frankenstein as Shelley’s response to the rapidly changing scientific and cultural forces of her time.
When Women Invented Television: The Untold Story of the Female Powerhouses Who Pioneered the Way We Watch Today by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
In the Golden Age of Radio, where powerful men were making millions in advertising dollars reaching thousands of listeners every day, the new medium of television was a new frontier. Few radio moguls were interested in the upstart industry and its tiny production budgets, and expensive television sets were out of reach for most families. But four women—each an independent visionary— saw an opportunity and carved their own paths, and in doing so invented the way we watch T.V. today. When Women Invented Television tells the story of four women—Irna Phillips, Gertrude Berg, Hazel Scott, and Betty White—who were key figures in the development of television as a cultural force. But as the medium became more popular—and lucrative—in the wake of World War II, the House Un-American Activities Committee arose to threaten entertainers, blacklisting many as communist sympathizers. As politics, sexism, racism, anti-Semitism, and money collided, the women who invented television found themselves fighting from the margins, as men took control. But these women were true survivors who never gave up— and thus their legacies remain with us even today.
All In: An Autobiography by Billie Jean King
Billie Jean King’s new autobiography is an inspiring and intimate self-portrait of a champion of equality that encompasses her brilliant tennis career, unwavering activism, and an ongoing commitment to fairness and social justice.
She recounts her groundbreaking tennis successes that came at a breathtaking pace–six years as the top-ranked woman in the world, twenty Wimbledon championships, thirty- nine grand-slam titles, and her watershed defeat of Bobby Riggs in the famous Battle of the Sexes. King poignantly recalls the cultural backdrop of her career and the profound impact on her worldview from the women’s movement, the assassinations and anti-war protests of the 1960s, the civil rights movement, and the LGBTQ+ rights movement. Hers is the story of a path breaking activist, world-class athlete, and an indomitable spirit whose impact has transcended her achievements in sports.
They Dared to Dream: Florida Women Who Shaped History by Doris Weatherford
For those interested in learning about local history, They Dared to Dream by Doris Weatherford highlights the myriad contributions women have made throughout Florida’s history. From the select few who traveled with Ponce de Leon to the state’s first female mayor Marion H. O’Brien, Weatherford sheds light on the roles these pioneering women played in the shaping of the Sunshine State. They Dared to Dream reveals the lifestyles and achievements of women throughout landmark moments in history, including indigenous civilizations pre-colonization, early European exploration, the Civil War era, Reconstruction, the early twentieth century, and the population explosions post–World War II. Featuring often-celebrated personalities—including Mary Martha Reid, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton—alongside the lesser-known lives of Princess Murat, lighthouse keeper Barbara Mabrity, Florida Memorial College founder Sarah Ann Blocker, and others—this pivotal examination of Florida’s female agents of change draws attention to women’s instrumental roles in the historical events that defined the Sunshine State.