Women’s History Month

You’ve probably heard of Abigail Adams, Joan of Arc, and Clara Barton but what about Margaret Bayard Smith, Beatrice of Sicily and Varina Howell Davis?*

There is a book display on the library’s third floor celebrating Women’s History Month. Not all of the books deal with women who are well known. Some were powerful and influential in their communities but others were not.  Many of them never made the history books. Marjorie and Ben Lightman’s Biographical Dictionary of Ancient Greek and Roman Women takes you back to ancient history. Look at the wonderful pictures of pioneer women in Women of the West by Cathy Luchetti. Another collection of stories about the lives and role of American women is Donna Lucey’s I Dwell in Possibility: Women Build a Nation 1600-1920 and Gail CollinsAmerica’s Women looks at the ordinary lives of ordinary women who immigrated here as early settlers, fought for suffrage,  participated in the civil rights movement and joined  the feminist revolution .  If you like American history and politics read Cokie Roberts’ Founding Mothers and Bonnie Angelo’s First Mothers.   Joan Druett’s Hen Frigate introduces women who sailed with their sea captain husbands. Elizabeth Leonard’s All the Daring of the Soldier profiles some of the brave women who were spies or who disguised themselves as men so they could fight in the Civil War. Some American women made their mark overseas; for example, the three Jerome sisters married into British aristocracy (Elisabeth Kehoe’s The Titled Americans).

*Do you want some information about the women mentioned in the first paragraph? Margaret Bayard Smith (left) was a well known hostess and writer in the early days of Washington DC; she commented on Presidents from Jefferson to Madison to Jackson (Catherine Allgor’s Parlor Politics). Beatrice of Sicily (center) and her sisters were all Queen Consorts in the 13th century– Marguerite in France, Eleanor of England and Sanchia of the Romans. I read about their lives and accomplishments in Nancy Goldstone’s Four Queens (on my Kindle!). The life of Varina Howell Davis (right), the granddaughter of the revolutionary war governor of New Jersey and the wife of the president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, is detailed in Carol Berkin’s Civil War Wives.

– posted by Brenda, Reference Services

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