Rachel’s Reads – March 2023
“For most of history, Anonymous was a woman.” – Virginia Woolf
Many of the traditional and textbook historical narratives center male experiences and hide the contributions of women. Throughout the different aspects of human history, whether politics, science, literature, art, or sport, that tendency removes a huge portion of the knowledge and experiences of the population. Powerful women in history have been erased and forgotten to suit the narratives of those who came after or to bolster a certain point of view. To celebrate Women’s History Month, I have created a list of books that celebrate lesser known women throughout history.
Sensational: The Hidden History of America’s “Girl Stunt Reporters” by Kim Todd
This sensational history is about the “girl stunt reporters” employed by newspapers in the 1880s and 1890s. They investigated many controversial subjects, and their work often led to important conversations and sometimes real change. However, they were often looked down upon by their contemporaries and then future reporters.
Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All by Martha S. Jones
Not all barriers for Black women to vote were broken with the 19th Amendment. This book details the remarkable history of the many Black women, some well-known and some not well-known, in their fight for equality, justice, and political rights.
The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women Across the Ancient World by Adrienne Mayor
Sifting fact from fiction, Adrienne looks at archaeological discoveries, art, traditions, and myth to discover the real warrior women of the Eurasian steppes.
The Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire by Jack Weatherford
The daughters of Genghis Khan were the rulers of his large empire. They turned their father’s conquests into the international empire remembered today by fostering trade, education, religion, and an economy throughout their territories. However, censors cut their contributions out of the written history of the time and erased their names. This work attempts to piece together that removed part of history.
Taste Makers: Seven Immigrant Women Who Revolutionized Food in America by Mayukh Sen
Stretching from World War II to the present, this book focuses on seven immigrant women, each from a different country, who played important roles in introducing their cuisine to America. It weaves together stories of food, immigrations, and gender, to ask questions about why we remember some of the women today while others have largely been forgotten.
Nike is a Goddess: The History of Women in Sports edited by Lissa Smith
Although published in 1999, this book covers the rise of women’s sports in the 20th century by focusing on the female athletes who paved the way for the women of today. It covers the explosions of popularity and commercial viability as well as encouraging stories of women opening up new arenas. It is a tribute and an inspiration all in one.
Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet by Claire L. Evans
Although we may think of Silicon Valley as being male dominated today, women actually played a large role in the making of the Internet. From women like Ada Lovelace and Grace Hopper, to Elizabeth “Jake” Feinler and Stacy Horn, this history covers the women who played a role in different aspects of the Internet’s development and gives many overlooked women their recognition.
Sky Train: Tibetan Women on the Edge of History by Canyon Sam
The heart of this book is the stories of Tibetan women’s courage, strength, and resourcefulness since the Chinese occupation in 1950. With the introduction of a controversial new rail line, Canyon Sam narrates her 2007 journey to Tibet to ride the new “Sky Train” and engages with modern history from the perspective of Tibetan women.
The Central Exchange was founded in 1980 by Marjorie Powell Allen and Beth Smith. The 160 founding members included Kay Barnes, Anita Butler, Joan Dillon, Adele Hall, Mamie Hughes, Dorothy…
The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) was founded in 1950. The Kansas City chapter, which was created in 1982, currently has more than 150 members. The organization’s focus is on…
Sylvya Stevenson founded the National Congress of Black Women–Kansas City Chapter in 2013; it is an affiliate of the National Congress of Black Women, which was founded by the late…
Terri E. Barnes founded The Nia Project Kansas City in 2020. The organization works to support projects that enable Black women and girls to build confidence and increase their opportunities…