Mojo Monday ~ Women Making History

Amazing “Women Making History in Portland” mural

In August of this year I learned for the first time of the amazing Gerda Lerner who founded Women’s Studies in the USA.  It led me to devote a Mojo Monday post on September 1st to her and her accomplishments.  One of her quotes that stays with me is the following:  “Now, in one of the best graduate schools in the country I was presented with a history of the past in which women did not seem to exist, except for a few rulers or some who created disturbances. What I was learning in graduate school did not so much leave out continents and their people, as had my Viennese education, as it left out half the human race, women.”  

Sadly what still appears to happen in school in this country is that the history that is taught to our children still remains more focused on the accomplishments of men.  History was one of my favorite subjects in school and I so loved it that I even went on to get one of my university degrees in history.  One of the papers I wrote and still remember well was about Native American women warriors.  Yet I can tell you as a History major that there never was much of a focus on the contributions of women.  

Recently though I spotted a book called Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women by Catherine Thimmesh.  Spotting that one book led me to a wonderful discovery – that there are more incredible books out there that focus on the history of women and many have been written for children.  As a mom to two little girls I was doubly excited about adding these books to our family library.  One of my goals is to raise confident daughters with healthy and positive self images.  Sharing with them the stories of the many trailblazing women in history not only allows us to honor all the women who came before, but also gives them models and opens up to them all the possibilities that lie before them.

Here is a list of books that I am incredibly excited about reading and if you know of any books not mentioned that cover the history and contributions of women please leave a comment.

 Her Story: A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America
by Charlotte S. Waisman and Jill S. Tietjen
Her Story is a vivid documentation of the breadth and diversity of American women’s achievements throughout U.S. history. This one-of-a-kind illustrated timeline highlights the awesome, varied, and often unrecognized contributions of American women since the 1500s.
There have been women trailblazers throughout American history; women have had a profound impact on the intellectual, social, and political development of our society. But many of their contributions have gone unnoticed. Most people have heard of Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman, Margaret Sanger, and Eleanor Roosevelt. But did you know that a woman microbiologist discovered the bacterium responsible for undulant fever, which then led to the pasteurization of all milk? Or that a woman patented the paper-bag folding machine to make square-bottom bags (the grocery bag)? Or that a female mathematician’s work laid the foundation for abstract algebra? 

The women featured in Her Story range from writers, artists, actors, and athletes to doctors, scientists, social and political activists, educators, and inventors, and include women of all backgrounds and philosophies. The authors of Her Story, Charlotte S. Waisman and Jill S. Tietjen, have compiled an extraordinary collection of women and events that provides a unique view of history. Part of Her Story‘s distinctiveness is the inclusion of hundreds of lesser-known women from all walks of life who have broken barriers and created paths of noteworthy and inspiring achievement. 

In her Foreword to the book, Madeleine Albright comments, “Spanning the centuries from 1587 . . . this book will allow women and men to become more aware of and informed about the women who have been instrumental in giving us the quality of life we enjoy today. Often stepping outside of the expected modes of behavior for women during their lives, the profiled women were the pioneers for their causes, their professions, or their passions. Their accomplishments have advanced the arts, the sciences, politics, and business.” 

Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women
by Catherine Thimmesh
In kitchens and living rooms, in garages and labs and basements, even in converted chicken coops, women and girls have come up with ingenious innovations that have made our lives simpler and better. Their creations are some of the most enduring (the windshield wiper) and best loved (the chocolate chip cookie). What inspired these women, and just how did they turn their ideas into realities?
From Sybilla Masters, the first American woman with a documented invention (although the patent had to be in her husband’s name), to twelve-year-old Becky Schroeder, who in 1974 became the youngest girl to receive a patent, Girls Think of Everything tells the stories of these women’s obstacles and their remarkable victories.

The Sky’s the Limit: Stories of Discovery by Women and Girls
by Catherine Thimmesh
They study the night sky, watch chimpanzees in the wild, and dig up ancient clay treasures. They search the beach for rare fossils, photograph old rock carvings, explore the hazards of lead poisoning, and wander into dark caves. And in their watching, digging, and wandering, they become discoverers. Young and old, they are women and girls who discover seventy-million-year-old sea lizards, the very origins of counting and writing, Stone Age cave art, mysterious matter in the universe, and how a puddle of water can be sanitized when heated by the sun.
Here is a tribute to the findings and revelations of these remarkable women and girls: to their perseverance, their epiphanies, their wondrous curiosity. Brought to life by innovative collage illustrations, these inspiring stories drawn from primary sources consistently probe into still unanswered questions. Here are discoveries that open our eyes not only to what women and girls can accomplish but also to the astonishing world in which we live.

Madam President: The Extraordinary, True (and Evolving) Story of Women in Politics
by Catherine Thimmesh 

When Abigail Adams asked her husband to “Remember the Ladies,” women could not vote or own property in America. Some seventy years later, when Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote, “To vote is the most sacred act of citizenship,” the government of the United States still did not treat women as equals, having yet to grant them the right to vote. But sixty-four years after that, Geraldine Ferraro declared, “We can do anything,” and became the first American woman to run for vice president on a major party ticket. Today, surely our country is ready for a leader who, as Elizabeth Dole said, “will call America to her better nature.” This captivating book illuminates the bravery and tenacity of the women who have come before us. With an engaging narrative, fascinating quotes, and elegant illustrations, it not only shows how far women have come but also reveals the many unsung roles women have played in political history. Step by step, these capable ladies have paved the way for our young leaders of tomorrow. They have enabled and empowered us to ask today: Well, why not the presidency?

Girls Who Looked Under Rocks: The Lives of Six Pioneering Naturalists
by Jeannine Atkins (Author), and Paula Conner (Illustrator) 
Girls Who Looked Under Rocks portrays the youths and careers of six remarkable women whose curiosity about nature fueled a passion to steadfastly overcome obstacles to careers in traditionally men-only occupations. The six–Maria Merian (b.1647), Anna Comstock (b.1854), Frances Hamerstrom (b.1907), Rachel Carson (b.1907), Miriam Rothschild (b.1908), and Jane Goodall (b.1934)–all became renowned scientists, artists and writers.

The New York Public Library Amazing Women in American History: A Book of Answers for Kids (The New York Public Library Books for Kids)
by Sue Heinemann
Taking a chronological and historical approach, the book makes use of a question and answer format to respond to questions that students might be asked in class, or ask for themselves, about historical figures. Beginning with Native American women, the chronologically arranged chapters cover a variety of historical periods. Attention is given to abolitionists, the temperance and labor movements, and to developments in literature and science. Additional information in the margins and boxed highlights expand upon or add to the Q&A material. The author includes as much information as possible on Native American, African-American, Latina, and Asian women. When providing names, she often offers variants of first names and married names. She includes famous women such as First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and far less famous ones like Nanye-hi (Nancy Ward), a Cherokee elder and leader who led her people to victory and who negotiated peace agreements with white settlers in 1755 and Kaahumanu, a 19th-century ruler of Hawaii.

Amelia to Zora: Twenty-Six Women Who Changed the World
by Cynthia Chin-Lee (Author), Megan Halsey  (Illustrator), Sean Addy (Illustrator)
An introduction to 26 diverse, 20th-century women who have made a difference in such varied fields as the arts, sports, journalism, science, and entertainment. The entries include Dolores Huerta, Frida Kahlo, Lena Horne, Maya Lin, and Patricia Schroeder. Determination, imagination, perseverance, and strength are what bind them together. Entries are arranged alphabetically by first name; each woman is featured on a full page that includes a two-paragraph introduction, a quote, and striking mixed-media art that illustrates the essence of the person. There is sophistication in both the quotes and in the art, encouraging repeated readings. The nuggets of information should inspire readers and leave them with a thirst to know more about these women.

For your enjoyment here is a short video about how the book Her Story: A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America by Charlotte S. Waisman and Jill S. Tietjen came into being. 

Again if you know of any books not mentioned that cover the history and contributions of women please share it in a comment.

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