Feature Image Credit: @meghan___murphy
The last few years have seen a plethora of books highlighting important women whose contributions had previously been lost to history. Before Women’s History Month ends, I want to recommend six books about trailblazing groups of women whose contributions are not as well-known as they should be. I selected Pan Am stewardesses, women basketball players, the mothers of three very famous men, the women who invented television shows as we know them, and more.
Here are 6 nonfiction books about trailblazing women.
Come Fly the World: The Jet-Age Story of the Women of Pan Am by Julia Cooke
Julia Cooke chronicles the women who worked as stewardesses (she uses this term since that was in use then) for Pan Am Airlines and their contributions to the Vietnam War effort and women’s rights. Cooke interviewed scores of women who served as stewardesses for Pan Am and chose to tell several of their stories in-depth. She relays their stories while also weaving in historical details, such as the way in which the role of flight attendant changed over the years and the women’s help in staffing American soldiers’ R & R trips between Saigon and Hong Kong. It is a truly awe-inspiring and captivating read.
Dust Bowl Girls by Lydia Reeder
This book details the extraordinary success of the women’s basketball team from Oklahoma Presbyterian College in the midst of the Depression. With incredible dedication and commitment, Sam Babb, the school’s basketball coach, traveled all over rural Oklahoma to recruit women to play on his basketball team. Babb offered them an education in exchange for playing basketball at a time when many families were barely scraping by. Lydia Reeder, the great niece of Sam Babb, writes an incredible tale of not only the successful women’s basketball team, but also a history of Oklahoma Presbyterian College and the history of women’s basketball. Dust Bowl Girls is an entertaining read, and the inclusion of photographs are a great addition to the book and help make the story come to life.
The Glass Universe by Dava Sobel
The Glass Universe tells the story of a group of women hired by the Harvard College Observatory as “human computers,” beginning in the mid-1800s when photography began revolutionizing the field of astronomy, creating a new field called spectrophotography. The images created via photography magnified the views of the cosmos to degrees far beyond what the naked eye could see even with a telescope, and these women studied the thousands of glass photographic plates created nightly at the observatory in Cambridge. As a result, the women discovered thousands of new stars, learned what stars are composed of, and characterized stars into groupings with similar traits. Sobel’s story is uplifting and highlights the recognition these women received at a time when women working was highly uncommon.
The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation by Anna Malaika Tubbs
While much is known about Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcom X and James Baldwin, most people are unfamiliar with the exceptional women who raised these three great men: Alberta King, Louise Little and Berdis Baldwin. In her seminal debut, Anna Tubbs brings these women’s stories to life and emphasizes their efforts to inspire and protect their children who were born into a society that resented them from day one. This beautiful homage to Black motherhood is highly relevant for today’s world.
When Women Invented Television: The Untold Story of the Female Powerhouses Who Pioneered the Way We Watch Today by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
The arrival of television was ignored by many men in the entertainment industry who felt radio was the better platform. Four women—Irna Phillips, Betty White, Gertrude Berg and Hazel Scott—used this opening to individually forge their own path in the television industry and, as a result, significantly impacted the way we still watch the medium today. When television did in fact prevail, these women were pushed to the side as men began to dominate the industry. When Women Invented Television spotlights their forgotten stories.
Women in White Coats: How the First Women Doctors Changed the World of Medicine by Olivia Campbell
In Women in White Coats, Olivia Campbell tells the story of three trailblazing women, Elizabeth Blackwell, Lizzie Garret Anderson, and Sophie Jex-Blake, who changed the way women receive healthcare in the United States. At the beginning of the 20th century, women were afraid to seek medical care and often died from treatable diseases. Driven by their own losses and dismayed by the state of women’s health care, these three women went to medical school (despite encountering numerous obstacles) and then together founded women-run hospitals and teaching facilities, completely refashioning medical care for women.
Leave A Comment