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Selections for Women’s History Month

By Lucy Fisher

Beginning in 1988, the United States has celebrated Women’s History Month each March. The celebration was inspired by the earliest organized women’s day, held February 28, 1909, organized by the Socialist Party of America in remembrance of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union strike in 1908. In 1914, the International Women’s Day celebration was held on March 8, and the tradition began. Since 1988, U.S. presidents have issued annual proclamations designating the month of March as Women’s History Month.

This March, Roesch Library gives tribute to the generations of women who have made valuable contributions to society through their commitment to nature and the planet. We recommend the following books to delve deeper and read more about the women who inspire us. Click to borrow from Roesch Library or another OhioLINK institution:  

  • Strikingly beautiful and a pleasure to read, Nancy Heller’s Women Artists: An Illustrated History surveys female painters and sculptors from the Renaissance to the present, illuminating the obstacles the artists encountered and the contributions they made.

  • Nike Is a Goddess: A History of Women in Sports shares inspiring stories of women creating space in an arena that had been closed to them. The rise of women’s sports over the last century is told in a series of narratives from boundary breakers Babe Didrikson Zaharias and Althea Gibson to modern-day stars such as Tara Lipinksi and Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

  • Starting in World War II and moving through to the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement and the Space Race, Margot Lee Shetterly’s Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race  follows the interwoven accounts of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden. These four African-American women participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes; Shetterly chronicles their careers over nearly three decades as they faced challenges, forged alliances and used their intellect to change their own lives and their country’s future.

  • Since 1901, more than 300 people have received the Nobel Prize in the sciences; only 10 have been women. Sharon Bertsch McGrayne explores the reasons for this astonishing disparity by examining the lives and achievements of 15 women scientists who either won a Nobel Prize or played a crucial role in a Nobel Prize-winning project. Nobel Prize Women in Science: Their Lives, Struggles, and Momentous Discoveries reveals the discrimination these women faced as students and as researchers.

  • Rachel Carson was a biologist for the federal government when she first noted the effects of the unregulated use of pesticides and herbicides, especially DDT. Magazines, afraid of losing advertising, refused to publish her articles. When Carson published Silent Spring in 1963, she was viciously attacked, called “an ignorant and hysterical woman.” But her warning sparked a revolution in environmental policy and a new ecological consciousness.  Be sure to also check out Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, a PBS American Experience documentary available through Kanopy.

  • The documentary film Taking Root: The Vision of Environmentalist Wangari Maathai, also available through Kanopy, tells the story of U.S.-educated professor Wangari Maathai, the founder of the Green Belt Movement of Kenya and the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Maathai reconnected with the rural women with whom she had grown up and discovered that their lives had become intolerable: They were walking longer distances for firewood; clean water was scarce; the soil was disappearing from their farms; and their children were suffering from malnutrition. Maathai soon discovered that tree planting had a ripple effect of empowering change. Countering the devastating cultural effects of colonialism, Maathai began teaching communities about self-knowledge as a path to change and community action. The women worked successively against deforestation, poverty, ignorance, embedded economic interests and violent political oppression.

—Lucy Fisher, course reserves specialist

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