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In Her Own Words: Memoirs, Essays, and Autobiographies Celebrating Women’s History Month

By Kirsten Lee, Distance Learning Liaison, Quinn Library

This March a display on the second floor of Quinn Library encourages all of us to hear women tell their own stories. Women’s autobiographies, memoirs, and personal essays serve an essential function of centering the female experience in our understanding of history and culture. Women’s voices, along with those of people of color, have been marginalized in history, healthcare, politics, and culture, and the books on display this month hope to highlight important stories of the human experience.

Women’s History Month book display at Quinn Library

Coming of age memoirs are among the most popular genres in our display. Consider checking out a graphic memoir about growing up in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution by Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis), a story about a childhood in rural Idaho with survivalist parents and no formal education by Tara Westover (Educated), or an immigrant story set in NYC’s Chinatown ripe with discovery of an entirely new culture by Qian Julie Wang (Beautiful Country).

Living in a woman’s body also provides a wealth of inspiration and honesty from many female memoirists. Check out our display to read Kay R. Jamison’s account of living with manic-depression (An Unquiet Mind), Audre Lorde’s experience with breast cancer and a radical mastectomy (The Cancer Journals), Emily Adler Mosqueda’s journey into new motherhood from a psychological and physical perspective (Unexpected), and Lucy Sante’s narrative of accepting her body and her true gender identity (I Heard Her Call My Name).

Many of us eagerly wait for politicians and public figures to share their experiences from the frontlines of history in autobiographies. This women’s history month, why not hear from such towering figures as Sonia Sotomayor (My Beloved World), Liz Cheney (Oath and Honor), Michelle Obama (Becoming), and Hillary Rodham Clinton (What Happened) as they pull back the curtain on American politics.

There’s a woman’s story perfect for whatever mood you might be in today!

Looking to dive deeper into women’s history? Check out our research guides on topics ranging from Women Gender and Sexuality Studies, to Marymount College, Queen Elizabeth II, and even Genealogy to research the history of women in your own family.

Explore your own research topics in our various Gender Studies Databases including the Papers of Fannie Lou Hamer, The History of Feminism, and Contemporary Women’s Issues. And if you’re interested in incorporating any of the memoirs you discover this month in your own research, make sure to check out our guide on Primary Sources for more tips.

Happy Women’s History Month, and happy reading!

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