The titles listed below are a representative sample of the classic, important, and useful works about the history of women in America. Suggestions for further reading can be found in excellent bibliographies at two of the National Archive’s websites:

Women and Society

Women's Bibliographic Resource List

For more specialized biographies, see the list at H net

For electronic access to some of these books and more, visit Humanities ebook

On the History of Women in the United States

Boydston, Jeanne. Home and Work: Housework, Wages, and the Ideology of Labor in the Early Republic. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.

Collins, Gail. America's Women: Four Hundred Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines. New York: William Morrow, 2003.

Cott, Nancy F. The Bonds of Womanhood: “Women’s Sphere” in New England, 1780–1835. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1977.

Ryan, Mary P. Empire of the Mother: American Writing about Domesticity, 1830–1860. New York: Harrington Park Press, 1985.

---. Womanhood in America: From Colonial Times to the Present. 3rd ed. New York: F. Watts, 1983.


On Individual Women

Cohen, Patricia Cline. The Murder of Helen Jewett: The Life and Death of a Prostitute in Nineteenth-Century New York. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998.

Griffith, Elizabeth. In Her Own Right: The Life of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. New York: Oxford University Press, 1984.

Sherr, Lynn. Failure Is Impossible: Susan B. Anthony in Her Own Words. New York: Times Books, 1995.


On Popular Culture and Social Practices

Halttunen, Karen. Confidence Men and Painted Women: A Study of Middle-Class Culture in America, 1830–1870. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982.


On Women’s Participation in the Public Sphere

Baker, Jean H. Sisters: The Lives of America’s Suffragists. New York: Hill and Wang, 2005.

Flexner, Eleanor. Century of Struggle: The Woman's Rights Movement in the United States. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1975.

Ryan, Mary P. Women in Public: Between Banners and Ballots, 1825–1880. Baltimore, Md.: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990.

Walters, Ronald G. American Reformers, 1815–1860. Revised edition. New York: Hill and Wang, 1997.


On the History of Women in the Fine Arts and Visual Culture

Banta, Martha. Imaging American Women: Idea and Ideals in Cultural History. New York: Columbia University Press, 1987.

Gilman, Sander. "Black Bodies, White Bodies: Toward an Iconography of Female Sexuality in Late Nineteenth-Century Art, Medicine, and Literature." In "Race," Writing, and Difference, edited by Henry Louis Gates, 223-261. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986.

Harris, Michael D. Colored Pictures: Race and Visual Representation. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2003, 2006.

Nochlin, Linda. Women, Art, and Power and Other Essays. New York: Harper & Row, 1988.

Wood, Marcus. Blind Memory: Visual Representations of Slavery in England and American, 1789-1865. New York: Routledge, 2000.


A Few Online Resources for Studying Women’s History

These are just a few of the growing number of excellent websites that deal with the history of American women in particular:

National Women’s History Project
American Women’s History: A Research Guide
National Women’s History Museum
Smithsonian Institution
Library of Congress
Places Where Women Made History (National Park Service)


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