What to Read this Month: August 2020

Normally we highlight books from our New and Noteworthy, and Current Literature collections for this monthly post, but this month we will be showcasing books from our Overdrive. Please read this recent blog post to learn more about Overdrive, and also make sure to check out Durham County Public Library’s Overdrive collection!

Since we are we are currently commemorating the centenary of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, I thought I would highlight books about the suffrage movement and women’s rights and history. If you’re looking for some films and television shows, USA Today recently had a nice list of titles. If you would like to read more about North Carolina’s involvement in the suffrage movement, check out She Changed the World: North Carolina Women Breaking Barriers


Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists: A Graphic History of Women’s Fight for Their Rights by Mikki Kendall is a fun and fascinating graphic novel-style primer that covers the key figures and events that have advanced women’s rights from antiquity to the modern era. In addition, this compelling book illuminates the stories of notable women throughout history—from queens and freedom fighters to warriors and spies—and the progressive movements led by women that have shaped history, including abolition, suffrage, labor, civil rights, LGBTQ liberation, reproductive rights, and more.


The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote by Elaine Weiss. The nail-biting climax of one of the greatest political battles in American history: the ratification of the constitutional amendment that granted women the right to vote. Thirty-five states have ratified the Nineteenth Amendment, twelve have rejected or refused to vote, and one last state is needed. It all comes down to Tennessee, the moment of truth for the suffragists, after a seven-decade crusade. The opposing forces include politicians with careers at stake, liquor companies, railroad magnates, and a lot of racists who don’t want black women voting. Following a handful of remarkable women who led their respective forces into battle, The Woman’s Hour is the gripping story of how America’s women won their own freedom, and the opening campaign in the great twentieth-century battles for civil rights.


The Women’s Suffrage Movement by Sally Roesch Wagner. An intersectional anthology of works by the known and unknown women that shaped and established the suffrage movement, in time for the 2020 centennial of women’s right to vote, with a foreword by Gloria Steinem. Comprised of historical texts spanning two centuries, The Women’s Suffrage Movement is a comprehensive and singular volume that covers the major issues and figures involved in the movement, with a distinctive focus on diversity, incorporating race, class, and gender, and illuminating minority voices. In an effort to spotlight the many influential voices that were excluded from the movement, the writings of well-known suffragists such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony are featured alongside accounts of Native American women who inspired suffragists like Matilda Joslyn Gage to join the movement, as well as African American suffragists such as Sarah Mapps Douglas and Harriet Purvis, who were often left out of the conversation because of their race.


Suffrage: Women’s Long Battle for the Vote by Ellen Carol DuBois. Honoring the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment to the Constitution, this exciting history explores the full scope of the movement to win the vote for women through portraits of its bold leaders and devoted activists. DuBois explains how suffragists built a determined coalition of moderate lobbyists and radical demonstrators in forging a strategy of winning voting rights in crucial states to set the stage for securing suffrage for all American women in the Constitution. She follows women’s efforts to use their voting rights to win political office, increase their voting strength, and pass laws banning child labor, ensuring maternal health, and securing greater equality for women.


Why They Marched: Untold Stories of the Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote by Susan Ware is a tribute to the women who worked tirelessly across the nation, out of the spotlight, protesting, petitioning, and insisting on their right to full citizenship. Ware shows how race, class and religion divided the movement even as she celebrates unheralded African American, Mormon, and Jewish activists. The dramatic, often joyous experiences of these pioneering feminists resonate powerfully today, as a new generation of women demands to be heard.

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