In the past few years, many people have realized that women's rights are fundamental. In fact, there is a good chance you know someone who would prefer to be called a feminist instead of using another label. While this can be seen as a positive step toward equality between men and women, it also means we need to learn more about the history behind these movements to understand better how we got here.
If you're looking for some new reads on feminism and suffrage, I've compiled 15 books below that look at the topic from a woman's perspective! Read on if you want to learn more about what life was like for women during these times.
Written by: Elaine F. Weiss
In The Woman's Hour, Elaine F. Weiss discusses the fight for women's suffrage in America during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She recounts the relentless efforts of a diverse group of women who worked tirelessly to increase awareness about their struggle and need for voting rights. This account is packed with rich anecdotes from primary sources that bring this critical period to life.
Weiss attempts to answer many questions surrounding this movement: Why were there women who opposed their own right to vote? How did these women overcome sexism and racism? What was life like for them before they decided to take up arms against an entire system? The text also describes how successful these ladies achieved their goals despite all odds stacked against them.
>> More must read books for women
Written by: Sally Roesch Wagner
This one-of-a-kind intersectional anthology features the writings of some well-known suffragists such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, alongside accounts from those often overlooked because of their race. These include Native American women or African Americans who were also advocates for voting rights, including Ida B. Wells and the three Forten Sisters.
At a time when there was upheaval not only socially but politically too, this book examines the past and how they were able to overcome so many obstacles in their way. Being that things are changing so quickly in today's world, it is essential to read and understand how hard these amazing women fought for and gained freedom.
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Written by: Lisa Tetrault
In 1848, a group of women from Seneca Falls met to discuss rights and equality. These women were not just any women, but they were some of the most influential people at that time. The two prominent representatives for this meeting were Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott. It is less likely known is that there were African-American and other people of color who attended and spoke there.
Their fight for equality and freedom started here and grew throughout the nation. They wanted to change what was going on in a society where men had more privileges than women did, even though they both contributed to society.
Written by: Martha S. Jones
The struggle for equality is not a new one. From the earliest days of America's history, women have been fighting to change society's views on them and their rights. One group that has seen more than their fair share of struggle is black women in America.
For years, these women were enslaved and mistreated by white men who believed themselves superior; once freed from slavery, they gained the right to vote but still faced many obstacles such as poverty and violence at home and racism outside of it. This book is especially relevant given that even today, they continue to fight for equal pay, among other so many issues regarding freedom and equality.
Written by: Winifred Conkling
Women in the United States had fought for and won the right to vote. However, they were not yet recognized as voters, and their voices were still silenced by a patriarchal society that did not want women to participate in politics. Suffragists joined forces with other social reformers battling for labor rights, civil rights, and an end to child labor laws. They all worked together to fight against oppression on many levels of society. You'll also read about many lesser-known people who fought for their rights, such as Alice Paul, Sojourner Truth, and others.
The suffragists used non-violent methods such as marches, speeches at public events, lobbying politicians and government officials, writing pamphlets and books about suffrage issues, creating petitions signed by thousands of people to present them before Congress or state legislatures.
Written by: Susan Zimet
If you are looking to help your young ones learn about women's suffrage, this is an excellent starter for kids around ten years or older. One of the reasons is that it has cartoons, photos, and more to help them get a feel for these times and issues. It is also still an excellent read for adults.
Most people know that the 19th Amendment passed in 1920, but only by a one-vote margin. This book goes into the history of the suffragette movement and how they dealt with oppression from the outside, but even from other women who didn't want the right to vote! However, no matter how much the anti-vote measures tried, including harassment, arrests, and more, they would not be stopped until they gained their right to vote.
Written by: Geoffrey C. Ward & Ken Burns
This book is primarily dedicated to examining the lives of both Elizabeth Cady Staton and Susan B. Anthony instead of the suffragette movement as a whole. Staton, born into wealth prestige, while Anthony was raised as a Quaker, which is about as far away on the social level as two people can be. Another difference between them was that Anthony would fight for and stand up more than Stanton. However, often, Stanton would help write the speeches since that was her specialty. Together, they were a powerful duo.
Being that this book is co-authored by documentarian Ken Burns, you know the information will fully substantiate it and be evidence-based. There are also other authors who have been included to make sure it is a well-rounded and profound, and colorful description of these women and their lives. There is also an accompanying movie on PBS.
Written by: Mary Walton
Alice Paul is an American activist who fought for women's rights at the beginning of the twentieth century. She was a leading figure in the suffragist movement and helped to ensure that women were given the right to vote in 1920. Even though she only did non-violent protests and marches, she dealt with constant attacks, arrests, and even being force-fed while in prison.
In 1916, Alice started a campaign called "Silent Sentinels," where she and other protesters stood outside of Woodrow Wilson's White House with banners demanding equal voting rights. This would be known as one of her most important activist works throughout her life because it set up a precedent for future protests by showing how effective they could be through their silent but powerful displays.
Written by: Bridget Quinn
This book is a little different from the others because it starts early on in the fight for equality, and it then continues through today's events and the happenings with women's rights and the continuing struggles they have to battle. The book is divided into 19 chapters, being that it was the 19th Amendment that gave women the right to vote, and each will provide you with insight into the people who fought for freedom and would not back down.
We love that it is more like a conversation than just a dry book about the actual events and when they occurred. Even though this is a book for adults, this one has both stories and gorgeous illustrations to go along with the stories.
Written by: Tina Cassidy
The title of this book comes from Alice Paul's question to Woodrow Wilson regarding the 19th Amendment. Her life is full of remarkable achievements, and you will be surprised at how much she accomplished while hardly ever being mentioned in the history of the fight for women's rights to vote.
She led a movement, including a march in 1917 with 8,000 suffragettes to the White House, and finally got President Woodrow Wilson's signature on the 19th Amendment. Her actions culminated in 1920 with an amendment to the Constitution, which granted women the right to vote.
Written by: Ellen Carol DuBois
As we know, in the U.S., women's right to vote was finally guaranteed by the 19th Amendment in 1920. However, it has been a long and hard-fought battle from the time of the first formal protest for equal rights in Seneca Falls, New York, more than 100 years ago. Suffragist leaders Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton drafted an "Address to Women of America" at that historical convention that demanded social, civil, and religious equality for women and economic independence through access to higher education and employment opportunities.
This book is essential as it also shows how so many people were fighting against the suffragettes, including white women who didn't want African-Americans and people of color to vote. It gives you a glimpse into how difficult it was, for so many of these women, when so many were against this right, we now take for granted.
Written by: Joyce Avrech Berkman
African American women were some of the first to fight for their right to vote in America. Long before the passage of the 19th Amendment, these brave activists paved the way for generations of African American women who would follow them and contribute to this great country's history. This book begins in 1837 with a meeting of antislavery in New York City and then continues through to the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
Joyce Avrech Berkman has compiled a vast body of research on this subject into one book that is enlightening and inspiring. "African American Women and the Vote" is an essential read for any woman interested in her personal history or in understanding more about how our government was shaped by those seeking justice from oppression. Although this book was written in 1997, it is still absolutely relevant to everything that is happening today.
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Written by: Eleanor Flexner and Ellen Fitzpatrick
Eleanor Flexner's Century of Struggle tells the story of how women have fought for their rights in America. Beginning with the first wave of feminism, which was sparked by the Industrial Revolution and ended in World War I, she chronicles a century dominated by social reformers who were determined to improve conditions for all women.
Women pushed to gain access to higher education, professional careers, political power, better wages, and working conditions--and they won real victories. But despite these successes, men still controlled society—making it harder for women to break into fields like medicine or law—and discrimination kept them from achieving equality on many fronts. Again, even though this book was not recently published, it is still essential in today's world to understand the continuing struggles of many women.
Written by: Doris Stevens
If you want a first-hand look at the fight to gain the right to vote for women, then this is the perfect book as Doris Stevens was one of the women who led the Women's Suffragist Movement. This is one of very few written by a direct participant in the battle for equality.
In July 1848, at the age of seventeen, Doris Stevens joined a woman's organization called The Woman's National Loyal League for an Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution, which would give women full citizenship with men and equal protection under the law. Their goal was a constitutional amendment guaranteeing all citizens equal rights regardless of race or sex. As we know, this failed, and it took many years, with incredible hardships faced by so many until finally getting the 19th Amendment passed in 1920.
Written by: Jane Robinson
If you are looking for something a little different, Jane Robinson's book will definitely interest you since it is based on the suffragist movement in the United Kingdom. The Great Pilgrimage was a group of suffragists who did a six-week walk to London. These women were from all levels of society and would not be deterred.
Not only does she delve into that march and how horribly the suffragists were treated, but she also writes about Mary Wollstonecraft, the author of Frankenstein, and how she and others broke down classically male professions. The book's first line is, "ordinary people doing extraordinary things for the sake of democracy." One may think these women were nothing like ordinary, but just for that reason, they can inspire all of us to see there is so much more we can do to continue to battle for equality and freedom for all.