March has been designated Women’s History Month to help shine light on the many unsung women who have contributed to American culture, politics, and society. Here’s a selection of books that chronicle the lives of some extraordinary women, many largely unknown. In addition, you’ll find titles that examine historical movements and contemporary issues of importance to women.
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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.
Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall
Drawing on her own experiences with hunger, violence, and hypersexualization, along with incisive commentary on politics, pop culture, the stigma of mental health, and more, Kendall delivers an irrefutable indictment of a movement in flux.
Abigail Scott Duniway and Susan B. Anthony in Oregon: Hesitate No Longer by Jennifer Chambers
Author Jennifer Chambers revives the inspirational fight for women’s rights by examining the dynamic between these two powerful women and how they changed not just the Beaver State but the country as a whole.
The first biography of Dorothy Pitman Hughes, a trailblazing Black feminist activist whose work made children, race, and welfare rights central to the women’s movement.
The Barbizon: The Hotel that Set Women Free by Paulina Bren
The Barbizon tells the story of New York’s most glamorous women-only hotel, and the women-both famous and ordinary-who passed through its doors.
The Doctors Blackwell: How Two Pioneering Sisters Brought Medicine to Women by Janice P. Nimura
A vivid biography of two pioneering sisters who, together, became America’s first female doctors and transformed New York’s medical establishment by creating a hospital by and for women.
Beck, the former editor-in-chief of Jezebel and executive editor at Vogue, meticulously documents how society has commodified feminism into elite practices that particularly exclude women of color, sharing recommendations for how to render advocacy more inclusive.
Lady Bird Johnson: Hiding in Plain Sight by Julia Sweig
A magisterial portrait of Lady Bird Johnson, and a major reevaluation of the profound yet underappreciated impact the First Lady’s political instincts had on LBJ’s presidency.
Cherokee America by Margaret Verble
From the author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist Maud’s Line, an epic novel that follows a web of complex family alliances and culture clashes in the Cherokee Nation during the aftermath of the Civil War, and the unforgettable woman at its center.
Delayed Rays of a Star by Amanda Lee Koe
Inspired by Alfred Eisenstaedt’s prophetic 1928 photograph, this historical novel depicts the richly textured lives of Hollywood icon Marlene Dietrich, first Chinese-American star Anna May Wong and maligned director Leni Riefenstahl.
Conjure Women by Afia Atakora
A midwife and conjurer of curses reflects on her life before and after the Civil War, her relationships with the families she serves and the secrets she has learned about a plantation owner’s daughter.
Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly
Lost Roses traces the stories of three women–Eliza Ferriday and her close friend Sofya Streshnayva, a Romanov cousin, and Varinka, a fortune-teller’s daughter–against the backdrop of World War I and the Russian revolution.