Feminist books are not just for women’s history month—and with all the incredible books out there about the many contributions women have made to politics, medicine, and more, you won’t have time to read them all during just one month, anyway. These nine books put the herstory back in history. They are a great jumping-off point for exploring the suffrage movement as well as the crucial roles women have played in so many other social justice movements throughout history. So settle in and get ready to be inspired, because the badass women in these books are going to make you want to lift up your voice and make it heard.
by Bea Koch
A feminist pop history book about the Regency, Mad and Bad takes a look at the many women whose lives are rarely portrayed in mainstream media (historical fiction, romance, films) about the time period. Bea Koch explores the ordinary and extraordinary lives of women of color, LGBTQ+ women, Jewish women, female scientists and inventors, and many others who lived radical, inventive, and rule-breaking lives in Regency England.
Read by Donna Allen
Read by Bridget Quinn
In She Votes, historian Bridget Quinn tells the complex history of the women's suffrage movement in the US, but she doesn't stop there. This book also includes stories about the many women who continued fighting for justice long after the 19th amendment was passed, including such diverse trailblazers as the first female Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation and the first woman to wear pants on the senate floor.
Many books about the history of suffrage have ignored the role that Black women played—as well as the pervasive racism of the white-led women's rights movement. In Vangaurd, Martha S. Jones offers a nuanced history of African American women's fight for voting rights and civil rights. She explores how their work transformed America, and how many modern social justice movements continue to build on their legacy.
Dorothy Butler Gilliam was the first Black woman to work as a reporter for The Washington Post. In this memoir, she reflects on her 50-year career as a journalist, recounting the setbacks and obstacles she faced as a Black woman in media as well as her own personal triumphs. Her unique perspective offers a compressive look at the intersection of race and media—both at how far we've come, and how far we have yet to go.
Remember the Ladies is not your traditional suffrage history. In order to let the voices of suffragettes shine through, Angela P. Dodson has complied letters, photos, drawings, advertisements, buttons, speeches, posters, and many more primary sources. Fresh and engaging, this book celebrates the important milestones of the suffrage movement and the impact women continue to have on politics to this day.
American Queenmaker is the engrossing biography of one of the unsung heroes of the suffrage movement. Marie “Missy” Mattingly Meloney was not only a suffrage activist, but a woman who understood political power. In her career as a journalist and political advisor, she worked tirelessly to get politicians to see women as an important demographic, and to persuade male candidates to engage directly with women.
Introduction by Angela P. Dodson
Jailed for Freedom was first published in 1920; this 100th anniversary edition includes an introduction by scholar Angela P. Dodson and many archival illustrations. The book is a first-hand account of some of the first large-scale protests to take place in Washington DC. It tells the story of the suffragettes who organized those demonstrations, picketed the White House, and suffered both arrests and physical violence. Filled with examples of the courage of ordinary women, this book is an inspiration for modern feminists still fighting for justice.
by Wendy Moore
No Man's Land is the powerful story of two pioneering female doctors, Flora Murray and Louisa Garrett, who set up a Paris field hospital during Word War I. Their work was so good that the British Army invited them to start a new hospital in London, despite the fact that, prior to the war, women doctors had rarely been allowed to treat men. Wendy Moore's compelling account of these two extraordinary women is an important piece of forgotten history, and a reminder that women have always been on the forefront of medicine and science.
Illustrated by Rita Sapunor
If you enjoy a good illustration as much as a good story, this graphic history of the fight for women's rights will be up your alley. She the People is framed around the ongoing fight to get the Equal Rights Amendment ratified. Split into twelve sections that explore the evolving rights of women between 1776 and today, this witty, sometimes sarcastic, and always informative book is a great addition to any feminist's library.