History surrounds us. The musings, desires, ambitions and attempts of those gone before us shape our experiences every day. Some in obvious ways, some less so. This month we take time to honor the incredible women who have etched their names in the history books and helped to create our modern world. From invention to civil rights to the arts, Women’s History Month is filled with inspiring tales of ingenuity and perseverance.
In years past, we’ve highlighted a variety of amazing women authors who use Lulu. Check out those lists right here:
This year, we’re highlighting women who’ve had profound impacts on history. While we love it when we can share our authors (and we’ll be doing that throughout March too), we’re at a time when it’s vital to look back and understand how we got where we are.
The History Of Women’s History Month
Before we get into our reader’s guide, let’s first take a moment to trace the history behind Women’s History Month. The observance began in 1981 when the week of March 7th was officially Women’s History Week. In 1987 the week became a month and since then, every US administration has renewed March as Women’s History Month.
One interesting facet of this annual observance is the annual themes related to each year. With each renewal of Women’s History Month as a national observance, a theme for the year helps to identify specific areas of women’s history to focus on. This year’s theme is a continuation of the 2020 theme: voting rights. Valiant Women of the Vote is meant to honor them women’s suffrage movement and point a light on existing voting disparities.
The most important thing to note about Women’s History Month as a national event is just how recent it is. We’ve barely acknowledged the importance of women’s history with this annual event for 40 years! That makes it all the more important to take some time in March to read, watch, and understand the vital role women have played in shaping our world.
A Note About Links To Books
Throughout this reader’s guide, I link to purchasable versions of the books I mention using Bookshop.org. Bookshop is a wonderful alternative to Amazon—because as lovers of writing and reading, we should avoid supporting Amazon’s publishing monopolization—and allows you to buy books while supporting bookstores in your area.
But you can also find all of these volumes at libraries. And with most of us still avoiding leaving the house, using digital library services like Libby to get ebook or audiobook versions on loan is a terrific way to keep reading without breaking the bank. If you need to find a local library, I recommend the WorldCat library finder.
Okay, without any further ado, let’s get into our Women’s History Month reader’s guide.
Before laws, culture, and society can change, people have to imagine those changes. All too often, it’s the authors (and other artists) who are well ahead of their time in imagining a better world. These are authors who helped us imagine a more equitable world and in doing so left their mark on literature and history.
Susan B. Anthony
I’m guessing Susan B. Anthony will be a familiar name for most of us. She worked her entire life to bring equality, social reform, and women’s rights to the mainstream. Famously, Anthony was arrested for voting in her hometown in 1872, many years before women had the right to vote.
When she wasn’t striving to bring equality to our nation, Anthony also worked with Elizabeth Cady Stanton (another historic figure in women’s history) on the six-volume tome called History of Woman Suffrage. This history of the woman’s suffrage movement was so important to Anthony that she bought the rights and plates (used to print the book) to become the sole owner. This allowed her the freedom to sell and distribute the books to libraries and independent booksellers at her discretion.
Nobel prize-winning author, Toni Morrison is an icon in both literature and the civil rights movement. Morrison is renowned for telling stories that call out the inequity of race relations in America.
Throughout her career but particularly in the last 20 years, Morrison unapologetically used her platform to speak out against politics that sought to maintain the status quo of racial inequality. Her efforts carried on the traditions of great writers and philosophers of years past; to call it like they see it and to seek a better world through education and empathy.
Morrison’s collection of published works is large enough and vital enough that suggesting a single work is difficult. Her third novel, Song of Solomon, is often noted as the work that made her a name in American literature. In that regard, it’s a great read for Women’s History Month and as a way to get into Morrison’s larger catalog.
Activism efforts like women’s suffrage and women in industry didn’t just take place on a national scale. Some of our Lulu Authors took a look at local efforts made by women right in their own communities:
The History of Women’s Suffrage in Leavenworth County, Kansas 1867-1920
The Leavenworth County Historical Society’s publication of The History of Women’s Suffrage in Leavenworth County, Kansas, 1867-1920 marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment and the sacrifice and dedication of millions of women in the crusade for universal voting rights. This narrative follows the story of the national suffrage movement, interspersed with colorful tales of Leavenworth’s development and the role its citizens played in promoting the movement’s success.
Talkin’ Union: Texas Women Workers
Talkin’ Union tells the groundbreaking history of Texas women pecan shellers and garment workers who organized for economic and social equality in the ’30s. Researchers with People’s History in Texas relied on first-hand oral histories and extensive archival research to bring this story to life in 1979. Their material had limited distribution and is published with a 2019 introduction making this history available to a new generation.
Women In Academia
While all of the authors I’ve already mentioned are undoubtedly academics in their own way, these next authors have contributed directly to the advancement of knowledge and education.
A widely known academic, Goodall dedicated her life and career to studying and understanding the social interactions and familial bonds of animals. Most famous for her work with chimpanzees in Africa, Goodall also taught a generation of women they can and should pursue extraordinary things.
Her book, In The Shadow of Man, chronicles her work with these primates. The dangers of surrounding herself by wild animals in their habitat and the gradual earning of trust. Regarded as vital work in western science, Goodall’s studies have informed numerous facets of academia and continue to grow our understanding of animals.
Mary Sherman Morgan
I imagine most of us have seen the icon image and video of a rocket igniting and launching into the air, destined to propel a shuttle (and the people inside) into space. But did you know that this would never have been possible without Mary Sherman Morgan?
Until recently, I didn’t. But in 1957, Morgan is credited with introducing the liquid fuel that powered our first launch into orbit. Her pioneering intelligence and willingness to buck norms to pursue her dreams and interests set Morgan apart from her peers. She found her way into chemistry and sciences during the second world war when many women found opportunities in the workforce.
Later, she worked as the only woman in a group of 900 engineers and stood out not because she was a woman, but because she worked tirelessly to develop new technologies. While Morgan herself wasn’t an author, the book Rocket Girl is a terrific account of her story.
Lulu’s self-publishing has often been an important resource for academics. Publishing in higher education can be even more challenging and restrictive than the commercial publishing industry. The option to publish without any gatekeepers has helped many in academia share their knowledge and create teaching tools for generations to come.
Ann Dodds Costello
Smart Women: The Search for America’s Historic All-Women Study Clubs explores the history of secret and exclusive all-women study clubs that existed (and still exist, maybe) in the United States as a substitute for secondary education opportunities before women were allowed to attend college. Ann did all her own research, including “infiltrating” and interviewing members of currently existing clubs around the country.
Smart Women: The Search for America’s Historic All-Women Study Clubs
Hiding in plain sight throughout America are historic, highly private women’s self-education groups. These clubs are fascinating survivors from an era following the Civil War when women couldn’t apply to most colleges and were told they shouldn’t leave the home.
The academics that came before her paved the way for young educators like Stephanie Wang, who published Epidemiology Unmasked as a way to spread awareness about the pandemic and how infectious disease outbreaks happen. This book is specifically geared toward educating fellow (fellow, because Stephanie is still in high school herself) high school students and updating academic curricula in high school classes. She also donates the proceeds from this book to buy PPE for healthcare professionals, so she’s cooler than any of us will ever be.
This 117-page introductory epidemiology book provides an elementary approach to understanding infectious disease outbreaks. This book is perfect for anyone with an ambition to learn about health-related concepts and take on an intellectual challenge, including those with little to no background in public health.
Women in Self-Publishing
Finally, we have a selection of women who have made particularly good use of self-publishing to create their own, unique works. Because DIY publishing is completely driven by the creator, many of the hurdles of traditional publishing simply don’t exist. These talented women take advantage of self-publishing to create something uniquely their own.
2021 Self-Care Planner (B&W Version)
The 2021 Self-Care Planner in black and white will help you practice self-care AND focus on your mental health at the same time! It’s ready for glitter pens, washi tape, and stickers!
Dominee’s cheerfully bright and informative infographics about mental health and self-care have been shared with hundreds of thousands of internet fans and followers (she has 223k on IG alone). She uses Lulu to provide fans with guided planners and workbooks to help them on their self-care journeys. She’s also made great use of how easy it is to customize Lulu projects – she offers most of her projects in B&W and full color versions to accommodate different price points and preferences.
Ashley Gooding & Kayla DeWalt
What is Privilege?
What is Privilege?’ is an ABC book designed specifically for grown-ups and children to read together. We want to inspire little minds to make big changes! As you read through the book, you will encounter important social issues and societal concepts. We’ve taken these grown-up topics and broken them down so they can be easily understood by children!
What is Privilege might be their first book, but I’m willing to bet it won’t be their last. Ashley and Kayla are working hard to provide valuable educational and interactive resources to go hand in hand with their taxonomy of social and cultural issues. Their website https://littlemindsbigchanges.com/ is awesome and their book is beautifully put together too. Their work is one of the most important roles self-publishing can play; enabling educators to share their knowledge without the gatekeeping of traditional academic publishers.
The Qamber Sisters
Write. Plan. Do. Monthly Planner (Unicorn) GCC Edition
Monthly Planner just for you to keep track of daily activities, errands, and events. This version includes: At a glance calendar, weekly planner layout, and space to write your heart out, keep your days organized, and productive. **This planner starts the week on Sunday and ends on Saturday**
Sisters Nada and Najla Qamber created and designed motivating planners and journals with a variety of popular interiors. If you’re looking for a planner or journal, there’s a Write Plan Do journal for you! Taking a fairly simple idea; journals and planners, the Qamber sisters embrace the entrepreneur’s spirit. By offering their journals in a range of interiors (from lined to grid to dot and daily/weekly/monthly planners), they utilize self-publishings no-inventory design to make a variety of options for their customers.
NOW Weddings Magazine
NOW Weddings Magazine February 2021 Issue
The February 2021 issue of NOW Weddings Magazine covers how to determine your wedding photography style, what you need to know before booking your wedding photographer, and interviews with local New Orleans photographers.
New Orleans Weddings use Lulu to publish monthly printed issues of their beautifully produced magazine with Editor in Chief Jessica Burke and editor Rena Sweeney. Print-on-demand and magazine publishing are kind of a new thing, even though the option has been around for years. More and more magazines are realizing how easy it is to create and print exactly the number of issues they need and ship them directly to subscribers. And since the magazine is printed on-demand, anyone can grab the newest issue even if they aren’t a subsciber!
Finally, we close out our list with a couple of modern female authors you can add to your reading list. While Women’s History Month is a great time to reflect on the trials and struggles, as well as successes, of women throughout history, it’s also an opportunity to connect with those writing and working right now.
It might seem a little obvious, as Michelle Obama’s book Becoming has been wildly popular since its release. But unlike some questionable books that land on various bestseller lists, Obama’s memoir on her time as the first lady is a terrific read.
Her writing and the work she did presents a fantastic look at how far society has come in building equity but also highlights how much still can be done. Most importantly, Obama’s story is still unfolding and I imagine we can expect more from her in the years to come. If not more books, then we’ll continue to see her efforts to push forward education, healthy living, and equality for all. If you haven’t read Becoming yet, I strongly recommend it.
Prolific novelist, anthologist, and poet (not to mention publisher, entrepreneur, and mom), Lynette has published 16 books for adults and 2 books for young readers in four years. How?
Her writing isn’t just prolific; Greenfield creates stories of strife in a way that acutely speaks to the struggles of modern women. Her books and poetry are the voice of a generation of women. Now she’s done one better and is using her knowledge of publishing and book marketing to help other authors get their stories published.
Her most recent novel, Akrasia, is a powerful story of a woman left with few choices. Her books are a favorite around the Lulu offices and would make a great addition to your reading list for Women’s History Month.
Poet and high school student Charlotte Harrison opens a unique window into her life experience with annual poetry collections. Starting with Fourteen, Fifteen, and now Sixteen, Charlotte has now shared three years of her life with readers.
Women’s History Month And Publishing
Publishing and printing has been a boon to historical record keeping. Today, as we take time to acknowledge and celebrate the great women throughout history and their contributions to education, culture, and literature, it’s important to remember that history is always being written. Support a woman author this month; be it a brand new voice or one well-established as an authority.