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Reference Book of the Week: Double feature on Women's History

Welcome to another edition of "Reference Book of the Week" here at The Patriot Spot. March is Women's History Month (see also the 2009 Presidential Proclamation here). The library has a display on the third floor as part of the observance, and we are running a series of slides with facts and trivia about women and history in our second floor monitor. This week we are highlighting two reference volumes on women's history. These books are available for perusal in the library's reference collection. First we have A to Z Women in World History (REF CT 3202 .K84 2002). This book about women in world history is organized by categories of human achievement such as business, sciences, and military. Entries in each section are arranged alphabetically, and each entry does include a small list of items for further reading. According to the Preface, this book "is an attempt to reveal not only the distinction of the women it covers but also the ingenious ways in which women skirted the numerous barriers society placed in their paths" (viii). You can find commonly known famous women such as Josephine Baker (pg. 148), Emily Dickinson (pg. 396), and Aretha Franklin (pg. 154). You can also find adventurers like American sled dog racer Susan Butcher (pg. 4) and magistrates like Judge Helga Pederson of the Netherlands who was the first woman judge on the European Court of Human Rights (pg. 76). In other words, this volume presents a diverse selection of entries. The volume is easy to browse, but it also has an alphabetical list of entries, a list of entries by year of birth, and a full index for readers looking for specific information. If you want to learn more about famous women, especially women who are not often found in other works, this is a good place to start. Second we have 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About Women's History (REF HQ 1121 .J634 1998). This is an entertaining and informative book of facts and trivia about women's history. Readers could simply start at number 1 (The Queen of Sheba) and read through the rest of the book. Readers could also browse and find something of interest. This book does not pretend to be comprehensive. According to the Introduction, "it gives but a glimpse of the achievements of women, both celebrated and unknown, who have pursued their passions in all arenas of human endeavor" (1). It's not just women; it also covers places, issues, and events. The book is organized into broad interest areas such as government, education, medicine, and even wild women (yes, that is the actual heading). I need to note that although the book is a world survey, the author does acknowledge that there is a bit more emphasis on the 19th and 20th centuries and on Europe and the U.S. because, in the words of the author, it's "where women have had the greatest opportunities" (2). This is a very accessible and easy to read volume with short entries. The book also includes a small list of items for further reading for those people wishing to learn more.
Published by root on 19 Mar

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