History is always all around us. But in March, we take time to acknowledge the prominent women who have made history. From invention to civil rights to the arts, it’s easy to find many women to honor during Women’s History Month.
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 effects 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 declared 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.
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 allow you to buy books while supporting bookstores in your area.
But you can also find all of these volumes at libraries. 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, musicians, and other creators) 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 women’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 influential 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.
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.
An Uncertain Age
Here are the voices of 23 women speaking to the art and arc of aging through poetry. An Uncertain Age explores changing bodies, evolving priorities, what is held close, and what is left behind on the journey.
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 with wild animals in their habitat and the gradual earning of trust. Regarded as vital work in western science, Goodall’s studies have informed many facets of academia and continue to grow our understanding of animals.
Mary Sherman Morgan
I imagine most of us have seen the iconic 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 introduced the liquid fuel that powered our first launch into orbit. Her pioneering intelligence and willingness to buck norms to pursue her dreams and interests drove her to help make one of the crowning achievements of the 20th century possible. 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.
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.
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.
Rising to the Top: Volume IV
Rising to the Top IV provides an intimate, inspiring and thought-provoking look into the varied experiences that have shaped the lives and careers of women engineering leaders from across the diverse African continent.
Finally, we close out our list with a couple of modern women 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 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.
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 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, I’m obsessed.
The Qamber Sisters
Sisters Nada and Najla Qamber created and designed motivating planners and journals with a variety of popular interiors, idk they capitalize on the easy passive income without even designing a book thing.
NOW Weddings Magazine
Editor in Chief Jessica Burke of 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.
Spotlight Female Entrepreneurs Magazine
Edited by Dr Izdihar Jamil, Ph.D., the newest edition of Spotlight Female Entrepreneurs brings together successful women in a variety of industries to empower the next generation to take their place as creators, thinkers, and leaders.
Paul is the Content Marketing Manager at Lulu. When he's not entrenched in the publishing and print-on-demand world, he likes to hike the scenic North Carolina landscape, read, sample the fanciest micro-brewed beer, and collect fountain pens. Paul is a dog person but considers himself cat tolerant.