Recent Women’s Studies Books to Read During Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month and in celebration we’re highlighting some of our recent books in Women’s History. All month long we will be sharing reading lists, excerpts, and other content here on the blog, so be sure to stay tuned. You can also view all of our Women’s Studies books plus check out our Black Women’s History and Gender and American Series.

Book cover for Everywhere the Undrowned

Everywhere the Undrowned: A Memoir of Survival and Imagination
by Stephanie Clare Smith

Kirkus Reviews No. 1 Must-Read New Memoir

“This stunningly lyrical memoir is a profoundly insightful glimpse into the complex and frightening consequences of parental neglect. As Smith’s voice naturally evolves from alienated to intensely present, the impressively concise narrative alternates between ethereal observations about everything from space to spiders and gut punches of pain, shame, revelation, and redemption . . . . A masterful literary memoir about caring for those responsible for our trauma.”—Kirkus Reviews (STARRED review)

“In lyrical, metaphor-rich prose fragments that mine the cosmos, television, and avian life for meaning, Smith offers a harrowing yet hopeful look at the long road to recovery. This cathartic personal history is difficult to shake.”—Publishers Weekly

Book cover for Surgery & Salvation

Surgery and Salvation: The Roots of Reproductive Injustice in Mexico, 1770–1940
by Elizabeth O’Brien

“A stunning contribution to the history of gender, medicine, and race in Mexico and beyond. Elizabeth O’Brien has unearthed a wealth of original and exciting material that offers nuanced and compelling insight into the making of modern obstetrics.”—Nora Jaffary, author of Reproduction and Its Discontents in Mexico: Childbirth and Contraception in Mexico, 1750–1905

“Exhaustively researched and analytically sharp, Elizabeth O’Brien’s exemplary scholarship demonstrates just how crucial the history of Mexican and Latin American surgical intervention is to our understanding of obstetric and gynecological violence. A brilliant, cogently argued book with immense contemporary relevance.”—Karin Rosemblatt, author of The Science and Politics of Race in Mexico and the United States, 1910–1950

Book Cover for Boardinghouse Women

Boardinghouse Women: How Southern Keepers, Cooks, Nurses, Widows, and Runaways Shaped Modern America
by Elizabeth S. D. Engelhardt

“Elizabeth Engelhardt vividly establishes how southern boardinghouses were crucibles and the women who kept them were agents of improvisation, ingenuity, grit, and grits. Her trenchant research and reframing allow us to see these ventures, so often born from a moment of acute personal loss and economic necessity, as the loci not only of tragedy and exigency but also of bodily autonomy, self-expression, financial stability, and even freedom.”—Monique Truong, author of The Book of SaltBitter in the Mouth, and The Sweetest Fruits

“Carefully researched, beautifully written, and thought provoking. . . This book especially allows readers to see Black women and men as property owners, entrepreneurs, and integral to this nation’s culinary evolution.”—Psyche Williams-Forson, author of Eating While Black: Food Shaming and Race in America

Book cover for beyond the Kitchen Table

Beyond the Kitchen Table: Black Women and Global Food Systems
edited by Priscilla McCutcheon, Latrica E. Best, Theresa Ann Rajack-Talley

Beyond the Kitchen Table succeeds in the ambitious goal of speaking collectively on issues of food security, food justice, and Black women’s agency. Intersectional and transnational, this is a unique and significant contribution to the study of Black foodways.”—Teresa Mares, University of Vermont

“Exciting in its focus on Black women’s role in creating community and abundance, this book is a treasure trove of diversity of disciplines and methodologies. No other book has such a wide-ranging diasporic focus.”—Alyshia Gálvez, Lehman College and the City University of New York

Book cover for The Vice President's Black Wife

The Vice President’s Black Wife: The Untold Life of Julia Chinn
by  Amrita Chakrabarti Myers

“Myers carefully stitches together the story of Julia Ann Chinn, the enslaved wife of Richard Mentor Johnson, Martin Van Buren’s vice president, recounting her life on his estate and the public controversy over their relationship.”—New York Times Book Review

“Groundbreaking . . . . A deeply researched and elegantly written biography, The Vice President’s Black Wife investigates Chinn’s life at home and within her community to explore how she navigated the racial and social hierarchies of the 19th century.”—Ms. Magazine

Book Cover for Earning Their Wings

Earning Their Wings: The WASPs of World War II and the Fight for Veteran Recognition
by Sarah Parry Myers

“An inspiring story of women who, though dismissed by many as mere novelties, combatted public suspicions and fears, subterfuge, and congressional resistance as they demanded an opportunity to serve in World War II and then waged an even longer war to be recognized as veterans. [This book] returns a fierce group of women pilots to their rightful place in history, at the center of vital questions about the meanings of women’s wartime service.”—Kara Dixon Vuic, author of The Girls Next Door: Bringing the Home Front to the Front Lines

“By introducing us to the WASPs, Myers reminds us that equating ‘veteran’ with ‘combat’ misunderstands the highly technical nature of modern US warfare. WASPs didn’t just free men for combat but brought an essential skill to the US military.”—Heather Marie Stur, University of Southern Mississippi

Book cover for The Famous Lady Lovers

The Famous Lady Lovers: Black Women and Queer Desire before Stonewall
by Cookie Woolner

“Extraordinary in its scope and inventiveness to focus on their intimate lives . . . . Woolner’s beautiful prose and writing style makes this book a delight to read. Academics and general readers alike will be drawn to it.”—Starred review, Library Journal

“Impeccably researched and compellingly written examination of Black women who loved women during the 1920s and 1930s.”—Karla J. Strand, Ms. Magazine

Book cover for We Pursue Our Magic

We Pursue Our Magic: A Spiritual History of Black Feminism
by Marina Magloire

“Magloire’s examination is wholly unique to the field and makes a significant treatment that is even more necessary now as the study of Black women’s spiritual practices has again come into vogue. A wonderfully complex and well-researched book.”—Kinitra Brooks, Michigan State University

“An engaging and thoroughly researched book that brings together well- and lesser-known figures to explore religion, spirituality, and feminism among African American women writers, artists, and scholars. For scholars interested in gender, religion, diaspora relations, and comparative diaspora studies, We Pursue Our Magic is essential.”—Tiffany Patterson, Vanderbilt University

Beyond Norma Rae: How Puerto Rican and Southern White Women Fought for a Place in the American Working Class
by Aimee Loiselle

“A deft analysis of the ways in which race, gender, and immigration status determine how media has portrayed the labor movement. Recommended for readers interested in labor history and popular media.”—Library Journal

“Hollywood stands exposed as just another industry in Aimee Loiselle’s fascinating history of how a long-fought union drive turned into the lone heroine Norma Rae. Theoretically sophisticated and empirically rich, exploring neoliberalism as both affect and structure, accounting for shifts in the global political economy, and recovering the experiences of Puerto Rican needleworkers along with southern millhands, this tour de force redefines who is the American working class. Cultural history will never be the same!”—Eileen Boris, author of Making the Woman Worker: Precarious Labor and the Fight for Global Standards, 1919–2019