This March we celebrate Women’s History Month, commemorating the lives, legacies, and contributions of women around the world. We’ve compiled a brief reading list that demonstrates the diversity of women’s lives and achievements.
Women in Asia
The Courtesan’s Arts: Cross-Cultural Perspectives, Edited by Martha Feldman and Bonnie Gordon
Delve into courtesan cultures, including artistic practices and cultural production, often overlooked or diminished in relevancy.
Discover the distinct strategies through which men and women constituted their identities in India for all their implications, tensions, and inconsistencies.
Cornelia Sorabji: India’s Pioneer Woman Lawyer: A Biography by Suparna Gooptu
Learn about Sorabji’s decisive role in opening up the legal profession to women long before they were allowed to plead before the courts of law, including her writings and personal correspondence.
Women in the Middle East
Cleopatra: A Biography by Duane W. Roller
Uncover not the figure in popular culture, arts, and literature of the last five hundred years — but the real last Greek queen of Egypt.
Conceiving Citizens: Women and the Politics of Motherhood in Iran by Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet
Place women in their proper role as mothers of a nation — central to the history of Iran during successive regimes in the 19th and 20th centuries.
The Imperial Harem: Women and Sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire by Leslie P. Peirce
Examine the sources of royal women’s power and assess the reactions of contemporaries, which ranged from loyal devotion to armed opposition.
Women in British History
Try to keep up with a generation of women fated to remain unmarried in the aftermath of the Great War.
The Wealth of Wives: Women, Law, and Economy in Late Medieval London by Barbara A. Hanawalt
Consider an overlooked contribution to London’s economy—the wealth that women accumulated through inheritance, dowry, and dower.
Queen Anne: Patroness of Arts by James A. Winn
Study the life and reign of Queen Anne through literature, art, and music from Dryden, Pope, Purcell, Handel, Lely, Kneller, Wren, Vanbrugh, Addison, Swift, and many other artists.
Women in European History
Murder of a Medici Princess by Caroline P. Murphy
Illuminate the brilliant life and tragic death of Isabella de Medici, one of the brightest stars in the dazzling world of Renaissance Italy, the daughter of Duke Cosimo I, ruler of Florence and Tuscany.
Writing the Revolution: A French Women’s History in Letters by Lindsay A. Parker
Investigate nearly 1,000 familiar letters, which convey the intellectual, emotional, and familial life of a revolutionary in all of its complexity.
The Burgher and the Whore: Prostitution in Early Modern Amsterdam by Lotte van de Pol
Delve into the cultural, social, and economic conditions of the lives of poor women in a seafaring society from the perspectives of prostitutes, their bawds, their clients, and the police.
Women in American History
Probe the life and work of one of the most remarkable women of the Civil War era–the leader of the North’s key spy ring in the South.
Trace the hopes and tensions generated by expectations of gender and class from the first New England operatives in the early 19th century to immigrant sweatshop workers in the early 20th.
Seneca Falls and the Origins of the Women’s Rights Movement by Sally McMillen
Join the meeting that launched the women’s rights movement and changed American history.
I Died for Beauty: Dorothy Wrinch and the Cultures of Science by Marjorie Senechal
Enter the provocative, scintillating mind of the talented and flawed scientist.
African American Women Chemists by Jeannette Brown
Connect to the lives of African America women chemists, from the earliest pioneers through late 1960’s when the Civil Rights Acts were passed, to today.
Women in Latin American History
Power and Women’s Representation in Latin America by Leslie A. Schwindt-Bayer
Look at the recent trends in women’s representation in Latin America, and the complex and often incomplete nature of women’s political representation.
Refusing the Favor: The Spanish-Mexican Women of Santa Fe, 1820-1880 by Deena J. Gonzalez
Uncover the key role “invisible” Spanish-Mexican women played in the US takeover of Mexico’s northern territory and gain a greater understanding of conquest and colonization.
Reach back through women’s long history of labor, political activism, and contributions to — or even support of — family and community well-being.
Women’s history encompasses the history of humankind, including men, but approaches it from a woman‐centered perspective. It highlights women’s activities and ideas and asserts that their problems, issues, and accomplishments are just as central to the telling of the human story as are those of their brothers, husbands, and sons. It places the sociopolitical relations between the sexes, or gender, at the center of historical inquiry and questions female subordination.
Image Credits: (1) Physical World Map via CIA World Factbook (public domain). (2) Map of Asia by Bytebear. CC-BY-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. (3) Map of Middle East by NuclearVacuum. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons. (4) Map of Britain by Anonymous101. CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. (5) Map of Europe via CIA World Factbook (public domain). (6) Blank US Map by Theshibboleth. CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. (7) Map of Latin America and the Caribbean by Yug. CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.