March is Women’s History Month! This month serves as a time to honor the achievements and contributions that women of all backgrounds have made throughout the history of the United States, both by remembering those who paved the way in the struggle for gender equity in the United States, and by recognizing the history-makers and barrier breakers of today. In 2023, the theme for Women’s History Month is “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories,” which “honors women in every community who have devoted their lives and talents to producing art, pursuing truth, and reflecting the human condition decade after decade.” The theme of International Women’s Day, which takes place on March 8 each year, is “Embrace Equity.”
As New Yorkers, both the city and state where we live are rich with women’s history; in the mid-1800s, for example, the first female doctor in the United States, Elizabeth Blackwell, founded her practice in New York City called the New York Infirmary for Women and Children. Later, as the fight for women’s right to vote ramped up across the country, New York City served as the headquarters for the National American Woman’s Suffrage Association. In fact, many of the most prominent suffragists lived and worked in our state, including at the now-famous Seneca Falls Convention in 1848. Women continued to make history in NYC after the 19th Amendment was passed, as female authors, artists, and musicians came to prominence during the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s and 30s, like sculptor Augusta Savage and Broadway performer Florence Mills. Then, in the 20th century, many leaders of the second wave feminist movement called New York City home as they renewed the fight for equal rights for women, including journalist and activist Gloria Steinem, and Congresswomen Bella Abzug and Shirley Chisholm, who both represented parts of New York City during their time in office.
This March, we honor the accomplishments and legacies of these women, along with the countless others who shaped our city, state, and country as we have done each year since the first nationwide recognition of Women’s History month in 1987, though even before that official recognition, people across the country promoted the importance of women’s history. In fact, the origins of the monthlong celebration we have today can be traced back to California; it was there that the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County Commission of the Status of Women organized the first ever Women’s History Week in 1978, with the dates in March chosen to correspond with the existing celebration of International Women’s Day. Just a few years later, organizers pushing for national recognition of Women’s History Week succeeded in their efforts, when then-President Jimmy Carter issued a presidential proclamation recognizing Women’s History Week nationwide for the first time from March 2-8, 1980. In that proclamation, he wrote that, since the earliest days of our country’s history, “men and women have worked together to build this nation. Too often the women were unsung, and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength, and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well.”
In addition to his own words, President Carter also quoted historian Gerda Lerner in that proclamation: “Women’s history is women’s right—an essential, indispensable heritage from which we can draw pride, comfort, courage, and long-range vision.” By continuing to recognize Women's History Month year after year, we honor Lerner's message: that understanding the context and significance of women’s stories and accomplishments, as well as the long history of women’s activism and the fight for universal rights, is central to the education of all Americans.
We encourage you to attend the events and exhibitions and explore the resources shared on this page to engage with Women's History this month and all year round.
Celebrating Women’s History Month in NYC
There is plenty to do throughout March to celebrate women’s history across all five boroughs. Whether it’s family activities at your favorite museum, educational programs for our teachers, or touring the fascinating historical sites that are right in our backyard, we hope you will take advantage of the events, exhibitions, and places to visit all month long.
- No matter how you want to commemorate Women’s History Month, the New York Public Library has something for you: fun arts and science crafts, movie nights, story times, and more will keep your family busy all month long.
- In addition to Women's History Month, March also marks the start of the spring season! If you're looking to get outside to celebrate, check out the NYC Parks Women's History Month events happening across the city.
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art is celebrating Women’s History Month with free family programs at the museum throughout March, all focusing on the theme of leadership this year:
- Storytime at the Met is held every Thursday and is recommended for families with children ages 18 months to 6 years. Families can enjoy books that connect to objects in the Met collections.
- The “Start with Art” series is recommended for children ages 3 to 6 and is being held several times throughout March. The program encourages children to share ideas, sketches, and music, and includes other gallery activities that bring works of art to life.
- For teachers: dive into the New-York Historical Society’s new Women & the American Story unit “Expansions and Inequalities, 1820-1869” during their free, online workshop on Wednesday, March 8 at 6 PM. During the event, you will learn about new resources to enrich your lessons on westward expansion, immigration, industrialization, and 19th century politics and culture, and receive 1 CTLE hour.
- The Tenement Museum is hosting a special virtual tour honoring both Women’s History and Irish American History Month on Thursday, March 16 at 6:30 PM, which will explore the story of Joseph and Bridget Moore, Irish immigrants who arrived in New York in the 1860s and were one of thousands of families that lived in the tenement at 97 Orchard Street.
- On Saturday, March 18 from 1–4 PM, kids and teens can attend the Women’s History Month edition of “Hands on History” at King Manor! This month, the free program is celebrating the female craftsmen that worked at King Manor in the 19th century with a construction-style activity hosted by Tools and Tiaras, a group that encourages girls who are interested in pursuing careers in the male-dominated construction industry.
- As a part of their Hidden Voices of New York City programs, the Museum of the City of New York will host a virtual session for students in grades 3–5 about the life and organizing of Elsie Richardson, a community leader who fought for urban renewal and racial equality in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. Teachers should register their class for a workshop session, being held on Wednesday, March 22 at either 9:30 AM or 11:30 AM.
- Educators who are interested in learning more about Elise Richardson can also attend an event geared towards grade 3–5 teachers on Wednesday, March 8 at 5 PM. This virtual session provides 1.5 CTLE hours.
- On March 26, 2023 at 2:00 PM, take a Women’s History Month trolley tour at Woodlawn Cemetery, and reflect on the lives and legacies of women who have shaped our city and country, including suffragist and women’s rights pioneer Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the first self-made female millionaire Madam C.J. Walker, musician and “Queen of Salsa” Celia Cruz, and America’s first investigative reporter, Nellie Bly.
- The First But Not Last – Women Who Ran for President virtual exhibit highlights the women in our nation’s history who took on the challenge of advancing society’s progress towards an inclusive vision of the American presidency. Though these women were the first to announce, the first to campaign, the first to raise money, or the first to win a primary, they will not be the last.
- Explore online exhibits from the National Women’s History Museum, ranging from the stories of women who broke barriers in the United States, from Olympians to NASA engineers.
- Girlhood, It’s Complicated, an exhibit from the National Museum of American History, commemorates the anniversary of women’s suffrage by exploring the concept of girlhood in the United States, but also how girls changed history in five areas: politics, education, work, health, and fashion. This exhibit argues that girlhood has an unexpected and complicated history, and that girls, like suffragists, used their voices to make a difference. Explore this exhibit via a self-guided interactive online tour.
- The Library of Congress has a huge range of Women’s History Month Exhibits dealing with a number of different topics and time periods.
- Learn more about “Belle da Costa Greene and the Women of the Morgan” with a virtual exhibit from the Morgan Library and Museum. Greene was J. Pierpont Morgan’s librarian and the first director of the institution, and her letters and other objects from the collection “offer insight into how she maneuvered in a world of books and manuscripts dominated by men.” The Morgan Library also has many other interesting virtual exhibits on women writers and poets – including Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, Gwendolyn Brooks, Emily Dickinson, and Beatrix Potter – all of which may be of particular interest during Women’s History Month.
- Visit the current installations at the Center for Women’s History at the New-York Historical Society:
Places to Visit
Throughout the month, and all year long, we encourage families, educators, and students to dive into a book about Women’s history and the female experience. The suggestions below are just a few of our favorite titles, with works of fiction and non-fiction for every grade level that feature characters and perspectives that are often not reflected in other popular works. We hope you will enjoy reading and learning from these outstanding stories.
Early Readers (Grades 3K–2)
- Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13, by Helaine Becker; illustrated by Dow Phumiruk
- Cubs in the Tub: The True Story of the Bronx Zoo’s First Woman Zookeeper, by Candace Fleming; illustrated by Julie Downing
- Dinosaur Lady, by Linda Skeers; illustrated by Marta Álvarez Miguéns
- Eleanor, Quiet No More: The Life of Eleanor Roosevelt, by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Gary Kelley
- Fall Down Seven Times, Stand Up Eight: Patsy Takemoto Mink and the Fight for Title IX, by Jen Bryant; illustrated by Toshiki Nakamura
- Lights! Camera! Alice! The Thrilling True Adventures of the First Woman Filmmaker, by Mara Rockliff; illustrated by Simona Ciraolo
- Malala’s Magic Pencil, by Malala Yousafzai; illustrated by Kerascoët
- Miss Paul and the President: The Creative Campaign for Women’s Right to Vote, by Dean Robbins; illustrated by Nancy Zhang
- The Power of Her Pen: The Story of Groundbreaking Journalist Ethel L. Payne, by Lesa Cline-Ransome; illustrated by John Parra
- Secret Engineer: How Emily Roebling Built the Brooklyn Bridge, by Rachel Dougherty
- Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist, by Jess Keating; illustrated by Marta Álvarez Miguéns
- Sojourner Truth’s Step-Stomp Stride, by Andrea Davis Pinkney; illustrated by Brian Pinkney
- Sylvia and Marsha Start a Revolution, by Joy Michael Ellison and Teshika Silver; illustrated by Teshika Silver
- Under My Hijab, by Hena Khan; illustrated by Aaliya Jaleel
- Yayoi Kusama: From Here to Infinity, by Sarah Suzuki; illustrated by Ellen Weinstein
Elementary (Grades 3–5)
- Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909, by Michelle Markel; illustrated by Melissa Sweet
- Dorothea Lange: The Photographer Who Found the Faces of the Depression, by Carole Boston Weatherford; illustrated by Sarah Green
- An Equal Shot: How the Law Title IX Changed America, by Helaine Becker; illustrated by Dow Phumiruk
- Fairy Tales of Fearless Girls, by Suzannah McFarlane; illustrated by Lucinda Gifford, Beth Norling, Sher Rill Ng, and Claire Robertson
- Listening to the Stars: Jocelyn Bell Burnell Discovers Pulsars, by Jodie Parachini; illustrated by Alexandra Badiu
- Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe, by Vivian Kirkfield; illustrated by Alleanna Harris
- No Truth Without Ruth: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, by Kathleen Krull; illustrated by Nancy Zhang
- Not One Damsel in Distress: World Folktales for Strong Girls, by Jane Yolen; illustrated by Susan Guevara
- She Made a Monster: How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein, by Lynn Fulton; illustrated by Felicita Sala
- Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story, by Paula Yoo; illustrated by Lin Wang
- A Song for Gwendolyn Brooks, by Alice Faye Duncan; illustrated by Xia Gordon
- Starting from Seneca Falls, by Karen Schwabach
- Step Up to The Plate, Maria Singh, by Uma Krishnaswami
- A Strong Right Arm: The Story of Mamie “Peanut” Johnson, by Michelle Y. Green
- Yours for Justice, Ida B. Wells, by Philip Dray; illustrated by Stephen Alcorn
Middle Grade (Grades 6–8)
- Akata Warrior, by Nnedi Okorafor
- Dress Coded, by Carrie Firestone
- Finish the Fight! The Brave and Revolutionary Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote, by Veronica Chambers and the Staff of the New York Times
- The Firefly Letters, by Margarita Engle
- Fly Girls: The Daring American Women Pilots Who Helped Win World War II, by P. O’Connell Pearson
- Go With the Flow, by Lily Williams and Karen Schneemann
- Let Me Play: The Story of Title IX, the Law that Changed the Future of Girls in America, by Karen Blumenthal
- Lifting as We Climb: Black Women’s Battle for the Ballot Box, by Evette Dionne
- Maybe He Just Likes You, by Barbara Dee
- The Radium Girls: The Scary but True Story of the Poison that Made People Glow in the Dark (Young Readers’ Edition), by Kate Moore
- Revenge of the Red Club, by Kim Harrington
- Rolling Warrior: The Incredible, Sometimes Awkward, True Story of a Rebel Girl on Wheels Who Helped Spark a Revolution, by Judith Heumann and Kristen Joiner
- The Woman All Spies Fear: Code Breaker Elizebeth Smith Friedman and Her Hidden Life, by Amy Butler Greenfield
- A Woman in the House (and Senate): How Women Came to the United States Congress, Broke Down Barriers, and Changed the Country, by Ilene Cooper; illustrated by Elizbeth Baddeley
- The Woman’s Hour: Our Fight for the Right to Vote (Adapted for Young Readers), by Elaine Weiss
Young Adult (Grades 9–12)
- Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists: A Graphic History of Women’s Fight for Their Rights, by Mikki Kendall; illustrated by A. D’Amico
- Atomic Women, by Roseanne Montillo
- Does My Body Offend You? by Mayra Cuevas and Marie Marquardt
- Fighter in Velvet Gloves: Alaska Civil Rights Hero Elizabeth Peratrovich, by Annie Boochever and Roy Peratrovich, Jr.
- Florence Nightingale: The Courageous Life of the Legendary Nurse, by Catherine Reef
- The Gilded Ones, by Namina Forna
- Girls Save The World in This One, by Ash Parsons
- Great or Nothing, by Joy McCullough, Caroline Tung Richmond, Tess Sharpe, and Jessica Spotswood
- Margot Mertz Takes It Down, by Carrie McCrossen and Ian McWethy
- One For All, by Lillie Lainoff
- Say Her Name: Poems to Empower, by Zetta Elliot; illustrated by Loveis Wise
- Six Angry Girls, by Adrienne Kisner
- A Tyranny of Petticoats, edited by Jessica Spotswood
- Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts, by Rebecca Hall; illustrated by Hugo Martinez
- Watch Us Rise, by Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan
Many of these books are readily available through the citywide Digital Library on Sora, which provides free access to hundreds of digital e-books and audiobooks for our students. Sora’s “Feminism is for Everybody” collection has even more recommendations for books to enjoy this month, and beyond. The New York Public Library also has some great recommendations in their collection, Who Runs the World: Celebrating Women in March with Books for Kids & Teens.