100 Famous Women Comments and Bibliography July 1996

Query From Nathan Everett neverett@umassd.edu 09 July 1996

I have recently been hired to teach US and World History at New Bedford High School(in Mass.). I want to include a biographical focus in my curriculum that does not highlight only "dead white males." I would like to request a list of 50 famous American women who should not be left out of a high school US History class, and also 50 famous women in World History who also should not be left out.

Although I have not been teaching history these last few years, I greatly appreciate the input of this listserv. Thank you.


Bass, Dorothy C. Women in Religious History: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide to Sources

Byrne, Pamela R. Women in the Third World: A Historical Bibliography

Carson, Rachel

Catherine of Siena (1347-1380)

Cereta, Laura

Davis, Natalie Zemon Women on the Margins (Harvard U Press(?))

de La Cruz, Sor Juana Ines from mid 1600s

de Pisan,(Pizan) Christine Book of the City of Ladies

Ding Ling 20th century Chinese author

Dunford, Penny Biographical Dictionary of Women Artists in Europe and America Since 1850

Duniway, Abigail Scott

Esposito, J. ,Ed. Encyclopedia of the Modern Muslim World

Felder, Deborah G. The 100 Most Influential Women of All Time: A Ranking Past and Present (Citadel Press, 1996)

Forbes, Malcom Women Who Made a Difference (Simon & Schuster, 1990)

Fremont, Jesse Benton

Frow, Ruth and Edmund Political Women: 1800-1850 (Pluto Press, 1989)

Grattan, Virginia L. American Women Songwriters: A Biographical Dictionary

Green, Rayna Native American Women: A Contextual Bibliography (1983)

Grinstein, Louise S, et.al. Women in Chemistry and Physics

Grinstein, Louise S. and Campbell, Paul Women of Mathematics: A Biobibliographic Sourcebook

Henderson, Linda Roddy and Henderson, James D. Ten Notable Women of Latin America (Nelson-Hall, Chicago, 1978)

Ireland, Norma Olin Index to the Women of the World From Ancient to Modern Times: Biographies and Portraits

Kersey, Ethel Women Philosophers: A Biocritical Sourcebook

Labarge, M. Small Sound of the Trumpet

Landes, Bertha Knight First woman in the US to be elected mayor of a large city(Seattle)

Lerner, Gerda check her work on gender and history

Life Magazine "Special Report: Remarkable American Women, 1776-1976" (1976)

MacPhail, Agnes Canadian women's rights activist

Mainiero, Lina American Women Writers: A Critical Reference Guide From Colonial Times to the Present

Malinche Indian slave ...very early 1500s

Manning, Beverly Index to American Women Speakers, 1828-1978

McClung, Nellie Canadian women's rights activist

Menage, Gilles The History of Women Philosophers

Merian, Maria Sibylla 17th-C. Swiss/Dutch naturalist

Minnich, Elizabeth Kamarack Transforming Knowledge

Mitford, Jessica

National Women's History Project Catalogue 7738 Bell Rd, Windsor, California 95492-8518 Phone # 707-838-6000 8am-5pm PST

Neely, Ruth, Ed. Women of Ohio: A Record of Their Achievements in the History of the State 4 vols.

Ogilvie, Marilyn Bailey Women in Science: Antiquity Through the Nineteenth Century

Partnow, Elaine The Quotable Woman (NY,NY:Facts on File) Also: The New Quotable Woman (updated 1992)

Petrof, E. Medieval Women's Visionary Literature

Prather-Moses, Alice Irma The International Dictionary of Women workers in the Decorative Arts: A Historical Survey From the Distant Past to the Early Decades of the Twentieth Century

Raymond, Maria Elena and Earnshaw, Doris, Eds. American Women Speak: Voices of American Women in Public Life (Alta Vista Press, 1996)

Scott, Joan check her work on gender and history

Seager, Joni Women in the World: An International Atlas

Sharawi, Huda

Shattock, Joanne The Oxford Guide to British Women Writers

Smith, Jessie Carney Notable Black American Women

Telgen, Diane and Kamp, Jim, Eds. Latinas! Women of Achievement (Visible Ink, 1996)

Templeton, Darlene Woman in Yorkist England (Ide House, Mesquite, Texas, 1984)

Tierney, Helen Women's Studies Encyclopedia

Uglow, Jennifer S. The Continuum Dictionary of Women's Biography

Werner, Craig Hansen Black American Women Novelists

Wollstonecraft, Mary

Young, Serenity An Anthology of Sacred Texts By and About Women


>From Pam McVay qg342@cleveland.freenet.edu 10 July 1996

This is an awfully tough question--do you mean you want to give some attention to widely-known women, to notorious women, or to women whose actions significantly changed the world? ...Of course, there are a significant number of very influential European queens(reigning in their own right, ruling as regents, important in their husbands' administrations) and in the Middle East you wouldn't want to forget the various wives and daughters of the Prophet...but I would say you're likely to get more helpful responses if you have an idea of what eras and what kinds of themes you want to use the women to illustrate. I think most of us using the list could come up with at leat twenty names of women who were really important in just our own areas of interest, so the real question is what areas do you want to cover?

>From Paul Halsall hallsall@murray.fordham.edu 10 July 1996

Although I have compiled lists of "famous people" myself, I have to query this "great women in history " approach, as I think that ultimately such lists further marginalize women's history.

Being "great" and "famous" is to a very great degree a function of participation in *public life*- political, military, literary. There have been, in many although not all cultures, women who have succeeded in such arenas [Sappho chez Greek poets; Gentilesschi chez early modern Italian painters, Marie Curie chez early 20th century physical scientists].It might be worth pointing this out to indicate there is no intrinsic reason that women cannot succeed [for that is what "great and famous" amounts to] in these public fields. But their danger is immense and twofold. Outside certain fields [novel writing, for instance] "famous women" will be outnumbered by famous men in huge proportions. All the fudging in the world, and citing of Marie Curie and George Washington Carver, cannot overcome what seems to be pretty solid "fact" [in so far as such things exist]- modern physical science is overwhelmingly the production of European and European descended white men, many of whom are now dead. Similarly Classical music and public visual arts were largely the creation of white males [at least in terms of composition]. Thus lists of famous women, far from centering women, ultimately re-inforce the centering of men.

There are ways around this which do not set up impossible to win competitions: for instance acknowledging and celebrating aspects of the public past in which gender, or race, were not so distorting - in music, for instance, consider the performers as well as the composers; the highly developed "popular" forms as opposed to the classical.

But this only gets you a certain way. In much of the European, American , Chinese and Islamic pasts [the areas in which I find myself teaching], the major focus of the lives of the vast majority of women, and of men as it happens, was the home and the domestic sphere. In the history of this aspect of human life, women are indeed central to the structures of society, whether or not they are "famous".

>From Kimberly Wargo kwargo@flash.net 11 July 1996

Regarding your query on "100 Famous Women," I would urge you to re-think your approach to these courses. Women's history has had an on-going debate for at least a decade on the importance of re-writing "the" history of various countries and regions rather than simply tacking on biographies of important women... >From Pamela McVay gq342@cleveland.freenet.edu 12 July 1996

While I agree that it's fun to discuss the proper role of women's history in general American and World history courses, I don't think all the comments telling our colleague to rethink the biographical, half men and half women, approach are very helpful. Aren't we discussing in mid-July a course to be taught in late August or early September? How many of the people writing in to say "bad idea" have tried to teach a high school class entirely in terms of biography? I do think it would be a lot more helpful to provide suggestions of bibliography that provide biographies of real women.

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