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Last Updated: Mar 22, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Women's History Month p.1 Print Page

Resources for Famous American Women

Women's History at the Smithonian Institute

Women's History at the Smithonian Institute

 "Young and Brave: Girls Changing History"

Few people know of the extensive impact that numerous young women have had on our country throughout its history.  This exhibit was researched and written by teenagers with Girls Learn International, Inc. (Some of the researchers chose to remain anonymous.) The National Women’s History Museum joins Girls Learn in the hope that all viewers – young and old, male and female -- will be inspired by these young women in history.

National Women's History Museum Biography Index

Extensive collection of brief biographies of famous, obscure and infamous women in various categories such as Abolition Movement, Arts, Business, Civil Rights, Colonial Period, Notorious Women, etc.

4000 Years of Women in Science

Considering that modern American society has only truly acknowledged the legitimacy of women in sciences recently, a website on 4,000 years of women in science is truly an inspiration! This low-maintenance site includes an introduction, 125 biographies, accompanying photographs with enlargeable images, and references from books, articles, and catalogues. Biographies are listed through links in these ways: chronological (beginning in 1878 B.C.!), alphabetical, and in individual frames for easy viewing. Another link, titled "20th Century Women," isolates the most recent female contributors to science. Professions listed include inventors, scholars, and writers, as well as mathematicians and astronomers.

The site was created by Dr. Deborah Crocker, a professor at the University of Alabama, and Dr. Sethanne Howard, a scientist at the National Science Foundation. The Introduction is worth exploring for its overall definition of science and the observation that the results of science truly have no gender.

Women's History Month materials from Library of Congress

Put the power of primary sources to work in the classroom. Browse ready-to-use lesson plans, student activities, collection guides and research aids.

African-American Women Writers of the 19th Century

NYPL Digital Schomburg exhibit of thirty-six women writers.

African American Women Writers of the 19th Century is a digital collection of some 52 published works by 19th-century black women writers. A part of the Digital Schomburg, this collection provides access to the thought, perspectives and creative abilities of black women as captured in books and pamphlets published prior to 1920. 

National Women's Hall of Fame

Brief biographies of all women inducted and/or nominated to the Hall.

Women's History Month Library of Congress


Little Known Facts

1. After African-American performer Josephine Baker expatriated to France, she famously smuggled military intelligence to French allies during World War II. She did this by pinning secrets inside her dress, as well as hiding them in her sheet music.

2. In 1938, first lady Eleanor Roosevelt challenged the segregation rules at the Southern Conference on Human Welfare in Birmingham, Alabama, so she could sit next to African-American educator and activist Mary McLeod Bethune. Roosevelt would come to refer to Bethune as "her closest friend in her age group."

3. Politician, educator and Brooklyn native Shirley Chisholm survived three assassination attempts during her campaign for the 1972 Democratic nomination to the U.S. presidency.

4. As a young girl in Harlem, Althea Gibson was a local table tennis champion. Her skills were eventually noticed by musician Buddy Walker, who invited her to play tennis on local courts.

5.  "Strange Fruit," the song about black lynching in the south made famous by blues singer Billie Holiday, was originally a poem written by Abel Meeropol, a Jewish schoolteacher from the Bronx, New York.

6.  Abolitionist Harriet Ann Jacobs published Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl in 1861 under the pseudonym Linda Brent. The book chronicles the hardships and sexual abuse she experienced as a woman growing up in slavery. Jacobs fled slavery in 1835 by hiding in a crawlspace in her grandmother's attic for seven years before traveling to Philadelphia by boat, and eventually to New York.

7.  Alicia Keys was accepted into Columbia University on a full scholarship, but decided to pursue a full-time music career instead.

8.  African-American fashion designer Ann Lowe designed the wedding dress of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, the bride of future President John F. Kennedy.

9.  The Loew's Grand Theatre on Peachtree Street in Atlanta, Georgia, was selected to air the premiere of the film Gone with the Wind in 1939. All of the film's black actors, including future Academy Award winner Hattie McDaniel, were barred from attending.

10. In 1881, Sophia B. Packard and Harriet E. Giles founded what would become the first college for black women in the United States. The school was named Spelman College after Laura Spelman Rockefeller and her parents, who were abolitionists. Laura was also the wife of John D. Rockefeller, who made a significant donation to the school.

11. In addition to her career in Washington, D.C., Condoleezza Rice is an accomplished pianist who has accompanied cellist Yo-Yo Ma, played with soul singer Aretha Franklin and performed for Queen Elizabeth II.

12. Upon her death in 2003, singer Nina Simone's ashes were spread across the continent of Africa, per her last request.

13.  In addition to being a millionaire entrepreneur, Madame C.J. Walker was a civil rights activist. In 1917, she was part of a delegation that traveled to the White House to petition President Woodrow Wilson to make lynching a federal crime.

14. Phillis Wheatley became the first published African-American poet in 1774 with her collection Poems on Various Subjects, a work of distinction that looked to many literary classical traditions.

15. Cathay Williams was the first and only known female Buffalo Soldier. Williams was born into slavery and worked for the Union army during the Civil War. She posed as a man and enlisted as William Cathay in the 38th infantry in 1866, and was given a medical discharge in 1868.



Black Wings : The First Female African American Pilot


On the Web: Women in Stem


Famous American Women Online Databases

Search an archive of over 17 million articles from newspapers, magazines, books, transcripts and more.

Digital video-based learning resource library for K-12 classrooms organized by subject and grade level.

Includes encyclopedia, atlas, dictionary, educator’s tools and Explore California tabs
Search through other World Book sites: World Book Kids, World Book Advanced, World Book Spanish-language Encyclopedia, and L’Encyclopdie Decouverte


How to use eLibrary in 2 Minutes


Women in Science Books

Cover Art
Sally Ride
ISBN: 0894909754

The Chimpanzees I Love Saving their World and Ours
ISBN: 043921310

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Something Out of Nothing
ISBN: 0374380368

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Rachel the story of Rachel Carson
ISBN: 0152162275

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Girls Who Looked Under Rocks
ISBN: 1584690119


Women's History Books in our Library

Cover Art
33 Things Every Girl Should Know About Women's History
ISBN: 0375911227

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Amelia to Zora
ISBN: 1570915229

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The New York Public Library Amazing Women in American History
ISBN: 0471192163

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Mighty Jackie
ISBN: 0689863292

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Victoria Woodhull First Woman President Candidate
ISBN: 1883846471

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Marching with Aunt Susan B. Anthony and the Fight for Women
ISBN: 9781561455935

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Women of the West
ISBN: 0778701123

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When Esther Morris Headed West: Women, Wyoming, and the right to vote
ISBN: 082341597X

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Madam President
ISBN: 0618396667

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Black Women of the Old West
ISBN: 0689319444

LibGuides Guide

Profile Image
Debra Cardone

The History of Women's History Month


Before March became Women's History Month, it was a single day, March 8th. In 1975, The United Nations began sponsoring International Women's Day to honor women around the world, particularly working women.
The tradition goes back to the early years of the 20th century. In March 1909, women devoted to both the cause of labor and the cause of women led an uprising of thousands of garment industry workers in New York City. This alliance of militant working women and women's rights advocates inspired a German Socialist named Clara Zetkin and a Russian feminist representing textile workers named Alexandra Kollontai to declare an International Women's Day in 1911. In 1917, another uprising led by women, this one in the Russian city of St. Petersburg forced the Czar to abdicate. So March 8th became a holiday to honor not only women's labor, but women's role in the Revolution.
Over the years and around the world, March 8th took on different meanings. In some years, it was an occasion for organizing against militarism and war. In the late 1950s, it was often the date of female-led anti-nuclear protests. At the same time, March 8th was a rallying point for the demands of workers. By the late 1960s, as women's liberation was spreading in the United States, many women, including activists and historians, discovered, re-discovered or decided to honor the revolutionary women who had originated the holiday. They clamored for an American revival of celebrating International Women's Day.
By the 1970s, March 8th was on the national calendar, although often the working class, socialist, grass-roots underpinnings of the holiday fell away and the focus in the United States largely became the achievements of individual women. International Women's Day became broader in scope and official in nature. In 1981, the new National Women's History Project in Northern California, among other groups, successfully lobbied Congress to declare a national Women's History Week in the days around March 8th. By 1987, by presidential decree, the week became a month.



The Fight to Vote

"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal." With those words, the Declaration of Independence set forth the idea of equality. But the women at the Woman's Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848, felt that a key phrase was missing. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott and others rewrote the Declaration. "All men and women are created equal," they insisted. They resolved that it was "the duty of the women of this country" to fight for suffrage, or the right to vote.


Seneca Falls was the beginning of a long road to suffrage. Those who wanted to expandvoting rights to all Americans were called suffragists. Suffragists demonstrated, gave talks and traveled the country.

In 1872, Susan B. Anthony voted in Rochester, New York. She was arrested and convicted of breaking the law. "My natural rights, my civil rights, my political rights, my judicial rights, are all alike ignored," she said at her trial.

Six years later, Senator A.A. Sargeant, of California, introduced an amendment to the Constitution to ensure that women could vote. But it took another 42 years before all women in the U.S. were guaranteed the right to vote.

On November 2, 1920, 8 million American women voted in a presidential election for the first time. The women who blazed the trail did not live to see that historic day. In her last speech, one month before she died, in 1906, Anthony urged women to continue to fight for the vote. "Failure," she told her audience, "is impossible."

One Step at a Time

Women worked hard to get the vote. Here are some of the main events.

1848 The Woman's Rights Convention is held in Seneca Falls, New York. Elizabeth Cady Stanton writes the Declaration of Sentiments.

1869 Stanton and Susan B. Anthony (shown) form the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA). Only women can join. Lucy Stone forms the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA). It is open to men and women.

1872 Anthony and supporters vote in the presidential election. They are arrested.

1878 A woman suffrage amendment is first introduced in the U.S. Congress.

1890 The NWSA and AWSA merge to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association.

1912-14 Women hold rallies in New York City and Washington, D.C.

1917 Police arrest women who are picketing outside the White House. By 1918, about half the states have granted full or partial voting rights to women.

1919 Congress passes the 19th Amendment, called the Susan B. Anthony Amendment. It is ratified, or confirmed, one year later.




Women's History Milestones


Sojourner Truth delivers her famous "Ain't I a Woman" speech at a women's rights convention in Akron, Ohio. The former slave spent 40 years of her life preaching a message of equality for all people.


Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony organize the National Woman Suffrage Association to fight for women's rights, especially the right to vote. More than a century later, Anthony was honored when the U.S. Mint created a coin using her image.


After 72 years of struggle, women win the right to vote with the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Shortly afterwards, the League of Women Voters is formed to push for more reforms.


About 350,000 women serve in the armed forces during World War II. Many more provide support services. About 100,000 of those women serve in the U.S. Navy as WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service).


Shirley Chisholm becomes the first African American woman elected to Congress. Four years later, the New Yorker became the first black person to run for President in the Democratic primaries.


Congress passes the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), 49 years after it was first introduced! ERA calls for equal rights for both men and women. However, a constitutional amendment requires both Congress' and the states' approval, and the measure later failed when too few states approved it.

A federal law known as Title IX ensures equal funding for both male and female sports in schools. As a result, women and girls have more opportunities to participate in sports. In fact, many female Olympic athletes say Title IX gave them the opportunity to attend college, participate in sports, and receive athletic scholarships.


Sandra Day O'Connor becomes the first woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. At the time, just six percent of all federal judges were women.


Sally Ride becomes America's first female astronaut when she spends six days in space. Today, about 25 percent of NASA's astronauts are women.


Young women make their mark in the music industry. Singer, songwriter and piano whiz Alicia Keys took home five Grammy Awards in 2002, and four more in 2005. Piano-playing singer and songwriter Norah Jones and her album Come Away with Me snagged eight Grammys in 2003. Jones won three more of music's biggest awards in 2005.


Hillary Clinton becomes the first First Lady to be elected to public office. She joins Congress as a U.S. Senator from New York.


President Barack Obama nominates Sonia Sotomayor as the 111th U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Sotomayor becomes the first Hispanic American and only the third woman to serve on the nation's top court.

Hillary Clinton becomes Secretary of State on January 21, 2009. As the President's top advisor on foreign policy, Clinton is the most powerful woman in President Barack Obama's Cabinet. She is the third woman in U.S. history to hold the important position. After four years on the job, she stepped down at the start of 2013. 




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