Bestselling Women’s History Titles Over the Years

Happy Women’s History Month! UNC Press has been publishing in Women’s studies for many years and in celebration of this month, we looked back at some of our bestselling Women’s History Titles and compiled this reading list.

You can also check out our and our Gender and American Culture series as well as our new Black Women’s History series.

Shirley Chisholm: Champion of Black Feminist Power Politics by Anastasia C. Curwood

“A well-rounded portrait of the late politician, who, half a century ago, helped set the tone for contemporary Black and feminist politics . . . Curwood deftly reveals Chisholm’s complexities and sometimes secretive nature as well as her tenacity in political struggles . . . A model political biography that all modern activists should read.”—Kirkus Reviews (*STARRED* review)

“A vivid biographical assessment of a remarkable woman, Anastasia Curwood reminds us of Chisholm’s legacy & makes her absence on the current political scene seem even more profound.”—Foreword Reviews (*STARRED* review)

Recasting the Vote: How Women of Color Transformed the Suffrage Movement by Cathleen D. Cahill

Honorable Mention, 2020 Armitage-Jameson Prize, Coalition for Western Women’s History

Honorable Mention, 2022 President’s Book Prize, Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era

“An essential work; highly recommended for scholars of the period and general readers interested in women’s history.”—Library Journal

Unceasing Militant: The Life of Mary Church Terrell by Alison M. Parker

Unceasing Militant is an admiring yet fair tribute to activist Mary Church Terrell, whose sustained, determined belief is inspiring.”—Foreword Reviews

“Terrell is an understudied figure in American history, and this biography is well suited for scholars of history and women’s studies as well as aspiring agents of change.”—Library Journal

“A must-read for anyone interested in the history of the fight for racial and gender equality in the U.S. as well as anyone interested in social movements of the Jim Crow era.”—Black Perspectives

Remaking Black Power: How Black Women Transformed an Era by Ashley D. Farmer

Honorable Mention, Darlene Clark Hine Award, Organization of American Historians

Finalist, 2018 Museum of African American History Stone Book Award

Honorable Mention, 2018 Letitia Woods Brown Prize, Association for Black Women Historians

“This text reveals how black women have continued to be central figures in challenging long-standing social injustices.”—Choice

Maternal Bodies: Redefining Motherhood in Early America by Nora Doyle

2018 Mary Kelley Prize, Society for Historians of the Early American Republic

Finalist, 2020 First Book Award, The Library Company of Philadelphia

Allan Nevins Prize, Society of American Historians

“Grounded in feminist theory and based on the author’s dissertation research, this timely work takes on a scholarly subject in a readable way.”—Library Journal, starred review

“Doyle provides a more complete understanding of the historical experiences of women, especially mothers.”—Choice

Within the Plantation Household: Black and White Women of the Old South by Elizabeth Fox-Genovese

1988 C. Hugh Holman Award, Society for the Study of Southern Literature

1989 Outstanding Book Award, Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights in North America

1989 Julia Cherry Spruill Prize, Southern Association for Women Historians

Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature, revised edition, by Janice A. Radway

2012 International Communication Association Fellows Book Award

Originally published in 1984, Reading the Romance challenges popular (and often demeaning) myths about why romantic fiction, one of publishing’s most lucrative categories, captivates millions of women readers.

“A consistently absorbing and often brilliant analysis of [romance novels] and their eager consumers.”—Sandra M. Gilbert, New York Times Book Review

Closer to Freedom: Enslaved Women and Everyday Resistance in the Plantation South by Stephanie M. H. Camp

2005 Lillian Smith Book Award for New Voices in Non-Fiction, Southern Regional Council

Honorable Mention, 2005 John Hope Franklin Prize, American Studies Association

“An appealing and creative approach to understanding everyday slave resistance.”—Southern Historian

“An excellent study of bondwomen and a penetrating look at the rival geographies created by enslaved people.”—Journal of Southern History

Light and Air: The Photography of Bayard Wootten by Jerry W. Cotten with a foreword by Stephen J. Fletcher

1998 Mary Ellen LoPresti Award, Art Libraries Society of North America, Southeast Chapter

A trailblazer for women photographers in the South, North Carolina’s Bayard Wootten (1875-1959) overcame economic hardship, gender discrimination, and the obscurity of a small-town upbringing to become the state’s most significant early female photographer.

“This book, with 136 duotones, recovers the images of a little known but highly accomplished regional artist.”—Women’s Art Journal

Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War by Drew Gilpin Faust

1997 Francis Parkman Prize, Society of American Historians

A 1997 New York Times Notable Book

Honorable Mention, 1996 Professional/Scholarly Division Annual Awards, Association of American Publishers

1996 Jefferson Davis Award, Museum of the Confederacy

1997 Avery O. Craven Award, Organization of American Historians