A Wynk, a Blynk, and a Nod to Women’s History Month
Before 1970, women’s history was rarely the subject of serious consideration. However, two significant factors contributed to its emergence as a topic worthy of study. The women’s movement of the sixties caused women to examine their exclusion from traditional American history textbooks. Second, the study of history in general was being transformed, and women’s history was a part of this movement that ultimately transformed the study of history in the United States. History had traditionally meant political history – a study of the key political events and of the leaders, primarily men, who influenced them. However, by the 1970’s, social history began replacing the older style.
Women’s History Month in the United States began as a small-town school event, “Women’s History Week,” in Sonoma County, California in 1978. The week that was selected included March 8, International Women’s Day. In 1981, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah and Representative Barbara Mikulski of Maryland co-sponsored a joint Congressional resolution proclaiming a national Women’s History Week. In 1987, after much lobbying by the National Women’s History Project (NWHP), Congress expanded the celebration to a full month, and March was declared Women’s History Month. Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the President to proclaim March of each year as Women’s History Month. Since 1995, U. S. Presidents have issued annual proclamations designating March as Women’s History Month.
The NWHP, founded in 1980, remains a national clearinghouse for multicultural women’s history information. Each year this organization selects a theme that highlights achievements by distinguished women in specific fields, from medicine and the environment to art and politics. The theme for 2014 is “Celebrating Women of Character, Courage and Commitment.” Honorees include Chipeta, Indian Rights Activist and Diplomat, Anna Julia Haywood Cooper, African American Educator and Author, and Tammy Duckworth, Member of Congress and Iraq War Veteran, to name a few.
As many new books have been published celebrating the accomplishments of women, we’d like to share those with you. Some names will be familiar while others may be unknown. Enjoy learning about women’s history!
New Women’s History Books
Babe Conquers the World: The Legendary Life of Babe Didrikson Zaharias by Rich Wallace and Sandra Neil Wallace
At a young age, Babe Didrikson Zaharias set out to become the greatest woman athlete of the twentieth century. She set world records at the 1932 Olympic Games, and became one of the top professional golfers. This well researched biography details her journey, including her triumphs over adversity. Many archival photographs are included, adding to the appeal of the book.
Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 by Michelle Markel, illus. by Melissa Sweet
This is the biography of Clara Lemlich, who in 1909, picketed for the rights of workers in the garment industry. She orchestrated the largest walk-out of women workers in U.S. history due to the deplorable working conditions.
Buffalo Bird Girl: A Hidatsa Story by S.D. Nelson
Born in 1940, Waheenee-wea (Buffalo Bird Woman), recounts her life story growing up on the Great Plains of North Dakota as a member of the Hidatsa tribe. Archival material with original prose makes this a poignant and memorable account.
Dare the Wind: The Record-Breaking Voyage of Eleanor Prentiss and the Flying Cloud by Tracey E. Fern, illus. by Emily Arnold McCully
Eleanor Prentiss was the daughter of a nineteenth-century sea captain who became a sailor herself. During the California Gold Rush, she and her husband transported passengers and cargo from New York to San Francisco aboard the clipper Flying Cloud, which had been built for speed. The maiden voyage in 1851, though filled with peril, was triumphant and record-breaking in the end. McCully is the Caldecott winning artist of Mirette on the High Wire, and her watercolor illustrations in this work are perfectly suited for capturing the essence of the sea.
Florence Nightingale by Demi
Demi explores the life of Florence Nightingale, who transformed the world of medicine by reforming hospital practices in order to relieve suffering and save lives. The illustrations are characteristically Demi: delicate fine line drawings that include detail, color and intricate patterns.
Founding Mothers: Remembering the Ladies by Cokie Roberts, illus. by Diane Goode
Cokie Roberts, news reporter, political commentator and New York Times best-selling author, has written a children’s book showcasing the contributions of the female patriots who helped found our nation. Included are Mercy Otis Warren, Phyllis Wheatley, Abigail Adams, and Martha Washington, among others. Several of these fascinating anecdotes are relatively unknown stories.
Helen Keller’s Best Friend Belle by Holly M. Barry, illus. by Jennifer Thermes
Helen Keller found solace with her pet dogs, especially Belle, who was her companion when she met teacher Annie Sullivan in 1887. Her life-long love of dogs is the theme throughout this picture book
Look Up! Henrietta Leavitt, Pioneering Woman Astronomer by Robert Burleigh, illus. by Raúl Colón
Henrietta Leavitt was born in 1868 and was determined to study astronomy at a time when almost all astronomy teachers and students were men. However, her contributions were significant and revolutionized methods for measuring large distances in space. Not a lot is known about her life, so the book serves mainly to showcase women’s early contributions to the sciences. An afterword fills in some biographical details. There are also quotes about the stars, information on other women astronomers, and a glossary.
Louisa May’s Battle: How the Civil War Led to Little Women by Kathleen Krull, illus. by Carlyn Beccia
Noted children’s biographer, Kathleen Krull, concentrates on Louisa May Alcott’s service as a Civil War nurse and how those experiences led to the publication of her first successful book, Hospital Sketches, and ultimately Little Women, which was published in 1868. Included are notes about Women in Medicine.
Mary Walker Wears the Pants: The True Story of the Doctor, Reformer, and Civil War Hero by Cheryl Harness, illus. by Carol Molinari
Mary Walker was the first woman doctor in the U.S. Army, serving in the Civil War. Wearing pants at this time was an act of defiance for women, but for Mary, as a Civil War surgeon, they provided her freedom of movement. In 1866 she was given the Medal of Honor for her service, and was the first and only woman to receive it at the time.
Miss Moore Thought Otherwise: How Anne Carroll Moore Created Libraries for Children by Jan Pinborough, illus. by Debby Atwell
Anne Carroll Moore worked at the New York Public Library during the early 1900’s. Moore was a strong willed woman and pioneering librarian whose vision for library services to children helped shaped practices and policy at libraries around the world.
Mumbet’s Declaration of Independence by Gretchen Woelfle, illus. by Alix Delinois
This is the story of a slave named Mumbet who successfully sued for her own freedom in 1781 Massachusetts. Delinois’s vibrant paintings and folk art style make this a rich picture book biography for young readers.
Raising the Bar by Gabrielle Douglas
This photo-biography details the life of two-time Olympic gold medalist, gymnast Gabby Douglas.
Searching for Sarah Rector: The Richest Black Girl in America by Tonya Bolden
By the time Sarah Rector turned 18 years old in the year 1920, she had amassed a fortune estimated at nearly $1 million. She was a black citizen of the Creek Indian nation. When they were forced to resettle west of the Mississippi in the 1800’s, they were each given an allotment of land. Sarah’s contained rich oil deposits which made her very wealthy. The biography of this little known figure in history deals with slavery, policy toward Indians, and westward expansion.
The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever by H. Joseph Hopkins, illus. by Jill McElmurry
This is the true story of activist Kate Sessions, a nineteenth-century horticulturist, who helped San Diego grow from a dry, desert town into a lush, leafy city known for its gorgeous parks and gardens. The light, narrative style and lush illustrations makes this a wonderful tribute to a true champion of nature.
Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell by Tanya Lee Stone, illus. by Marjorie Priceman
Elizabeth Blackwell was rejected by 28 medical schools before finally being accepted. She went on to become the first female doctor in the United States. This is an easy to read biography that is full of information about both Blackwell and the times in which she lived. Priceman’s illustrations add energy and even humor to this lively picture book.
Favorites from the Past
The Bravest Woman in America by Marissa Moss, illus. by Andrea U’Ren
Celia Cruz: Queen of Salsa by Veronica Chambers, illus. by Julie Maren
Emily and Carlo by Marty Rhodes Figley, illus. by Catherine Stock
Every-Day Dress Up by Selina Alkoch
Harlem’s Little Blackbird by Renee Watson, illus. by Christian Robinson
Helen’s Big World: The Life of Helen Keller by Doreen Rappaport, illus. by Matt Tavares
Here Come the Girl Scouts! By Shana Corey, illus. by Hadley Hooper
Imogen: The Mother of Modernism and Three Boys by Amy Novesky, illus. by Lisa Congdon
Joan of Arc by Demi
Liberty’s Voice: The Story of Emma Lazarus by Erica Silverman, illus. by Stacey Schuett
Life in the Ocean: The Story of Sylvia Earle by Claire A. Nivola
Me—Jane by Patrick McDonnell
Miss Lady Bird’s Wildflowers: How a First Lady Changed America by Kathi Appelt, illus. by Joy Fisher Hein
Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford, illus. by Kadir Nelson
My Great-Aunt Arizona by Gloria Houston, illus. by Susan Condie Lamb
Night Flight: Amelia Earhart Crosses the Atlantic by Robert Burleigh, illus. by Wendell Minor
Pocahontas: Princess of the New World by Kathleen Krull, illus. by David Diaz
Queen of the Track: Alice Coachman Olympic High-Jump Champion by Heather Lang, illus. by Floyd Cooper
Rachel: The Story of Rachel Carson by Amy Ehrlich, illus. by Wendell Minor
Rosa by Nikki Giovanni, illus. by Bryan Collier
Susan B. Anthony by Alexandra Wallner
Talkin’ About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman by Nikki Grimes, illus. by E.B. Lewis
Tillie the Terrible Swede: How One Woman, a Sewing Needle, and a Bicycle Changed History by Sue Stauffacher, illus. by Sarah McMenemy
When Harriet Met Sojourner by Catherine Clinton, illus. by Shane W. Evans
When Marian Sang by Pam Muñoz Ryan, illus. by Brian Selznick
Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World’s Fastest Woman by Kathleen Krull, illus. by David Diaz
Women Explorers: Perils, Pistols, and Petticoats by Julie Cummins, illus. by Cheryl Harness