Celebrating Women’s History Month in 2021

Posted on March 8, 2021

by The History Reader

In 1981, Congress declared the week of March 7th as “Women’s History Week.” This was between second and third-wave feminism, so people did not think one week was enough. After many petitions, Congress officially dedicated the entire month to women’s history in 1987. Women’s History Month is a month to recognize and celebrate the achievements of women throughout history. Each year, The National Women’s History Project designates a theme for the month, and this year it is “Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to be Silenced.” 
Women have been helping this country – and the world – for hundreds of years. Though their stories may not be widely known, women have been behind the scenes throughout time, paving the way for success for either themselves or others. Whether as wives, mothers, spies, protesters, or mountain climbers, women have shaped the world. Here is a list of books that will inspire and educate you this Women’s History Month. 

A Woman’s Place Is at the Top: A Biography of Annie Smith Peck, Queen of the Climbers

by Hannah Kimberley

Hannah Kimberly writes about Annie Smith Peck, who is, unfortunately, another remarkable woman who has been forgotten in history. Peck was a scholar, educator, writer, lecturer, mountain climber, suffragist, and political activist. In 1895, she climbed the Matterhorn at age forty-five while wearing pants, something unheard of for women back then. She continued these strenuous physical feats until just before her sixtieth birthday in 1911, racing to climb Mount Coropuna. On top of that, Peck marched in suffragette parades and was an avid political speaker. Her mountain climbing taught her diplomacy as well, as she became an expert in international relations between North and South America. Peck physically and mentally broke barriers, and A Woman’s Place Is at the Top seeks to immortalize her accomplishments.

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For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Politics

by Donna Brazile, Yolanda Caraway, Leah Daughtry, and Minyon Moore with Veronica Chambers; foreword by Stacey Abrams

Written by the four most powerful black women in US politics, this book highlights the hardships, responsibilities, and lack of recognition that black women face at their jobs. Jesse Jackson’s political campaign inspired these women to run for office, but their lives did not start in politics. Over the years, these women worked in the corporate world, on campaigns, in unions, in churches, in their own businesses, and finally, in the White House. The book is meant to inspire people to run for office, regardless of race, gender, or religion, and to finally receive recognition for their achievements.

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The League of Wives: The Untold Story of the Women Who Took on the U.S. Government to Bring Their Husbands Home

by Heath Hardage Lee

The League of Wives puts into the spotlight the military wives that were often forgotten when discussing the Vietnam War. In 1973, one hundred and sixteen servicemen were carried off of a plane at Clark Air Base in the Philippines, finally free. They had endured years of torture inside The Hanoi Hilton, a filthy Vietnamese prison from which their wives would eventually save them. While their husbands remained prisoners of war, these women formed The National League of Families, relentlessly lobbying government leaders, creating a savvy media campaign, meeting with antiwar activists, and coding secret letters sent from their husbands from Hanoi. Though men fought in the war, these women fought for their husbands and brought them home safely while making a name for themselves. 

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The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation

by Anna Malaika Tubbs 

While we will never forget the accomplishments of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin, we fail to remember the women who raised these activists: their mothers. These women lived during the Jim Crow-era and passed their knowledge and life experiences onto their sons, hoping they would have a better life than themselves. Louise Little taught her son Malcolm X about their family’s activist roots, Berdis Baldwin taught James how to express himself through writing, and Alberta King taught Martin all about faith and social justice. We owe these women eternal gratitude, as, without them, the Civil Rights movement in this country would not be possible.

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The Nine: The True Story of a Band of Women Who Survived the Worst of Nazi Germany

by Gwen Strauss

Not only is The Nine a true story, but it is also a personal one, as the narrative follows the experiences of Hélène Podliasky, the author’s great aunt. Podliasky led an escape of nine resistance fighters from a German forced labor camp. This was a ten-day endeavor that brought the women from Germany to Paris. They smuggled weapons, braved the escape routes, and hid Jewish children until they were arrested by the French police and tortured by the Gestapo. The nine women were then forced on a death march but ultimately escaped. This is the story of a group of women’s resilience in the face of hardship and the unbreakable bond that allows them to survive.

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Ethel Rosenberg: An American Tragedy

by Anne Sebba

In 1953, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed moments apart after being convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage for the Soviet Union. Ethel was the mother of two children and aspired to become an opera singer, a dream that was not destined to come true due to the state of the world during the Cold War. Years later, much new evidence has surfaced proving their innocence. Ethel had to live with the fact that her brother betrayed her and that people thought she had committed treason. However, through the letters she exchanged with her husband, her lawyer, and her psychotherapist while in solitary confinement, we are now able to see her strength.

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Bonus Reading!

History vs Women: The Defiant Lives that They Don’t Want You to Know

by Anita Sarkeesian and Ebony Adams

Did your eighth-grade history class fail to mention female Mongolian wrestlers? How about the Chinese women who took to the high seas as pirates? Native American ballerinas? Egyptian scientists? Yeah, somehow ours did too. But this book brings these exceptional women to light. In History vs. Women, Sarkeesian and Adams immortalize the achievements of twenty-five women who would have otherwise been buried in history. Each woman has their own full-color illustration, making this book perfect for both children and adults!

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