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Photograph: Courtesy Jonathan Blanc / NYPL

126 feminist books to read from the New York Public Library

In honor of the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment.

By
Shaye Weaver
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To celebrate the centennial anniversary of women winning the right to vote, the New York Public Library released a list of more than 100 compelling titles on feminism.

NYPL’s "Essential Reads on Feminism," was compiled by the library's experts to include 100 non-fiction titles covering the movement from a variety of angles that represent its diversity.

RECOMMENDED: You can now download over 300,000 books from the NYPL for free

From former slave Anna K. Cooper’s 1892 collection of essays, A Voice from the South, to Meredith Talusen’s 2020 memoir, Fairest, the list illustrates both the challenges and triumphs women have historically faced as well as feminism's limitations and successes, from its segregated roots to its success in becoming an intersectional movement.

"One hundred years after the 19th Amendment was finally ratified, the fight for gender equality is far from over, and the need for more diverse perspectives and voices is more urgent than ever," said Susan Kriete, one of the list’s curators and a librarian in NYPL's U.S. History, Local History and Genealogy division. "This list offers readers the tools they need to better understand today’s issues, and to appreciate their historical context. Our hope is that readers of all backgrounds will discover titles that not only deepen their understanding of the feminist movement but inspire them to help achieve its goals."

According to the NYPL, highlights of the list include: 

  • Because of Sex: One Law, Ten Cases, and Fifty Years That Changed American Women's Lives at Work by Gillian Thomas: An anthology detailing the stories of the women litigants in gender discrimination cases that revolutionized the workplace for women.

  • The Woman's Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote by Elaine Weiss: A non-fiction page-turner about the fight for ratification in Tennessee, fighting against any “nagging Suffragette spinster” narrative.

  • Song in a Weary Throat: Memoir of an American Pilgrimage by Pauli Murray: A lesser-known activist, Pauli Murray was an African-American lawyer who profoundly influenced Ruth Bader Ginsberg—articulating the argument she used to convince the Supreme Court that the Equal Protection Clause applies to women. 

  • A Colored Woman in a White World by Mary Church Terrell: An inspiring memoir by early black suffragist Mary Church Terrell, who went on to help found the National Association of Colored Women.

You can see the full list here and you can check out what books made the list for kids and teens here.

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