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Books for Girls on Famous Women in History, Science and Medicine

Updated on December 11, 2013

Book List of Famous Women in History for Tweens

My tween-age daughters were wondering why they weren't learning about famous women in history in their classes at school. Since I couldn't come up with a really good answer for them, I went in search of books that I could get them about famous women in history. Not stopping there, I also looked for books on famous women in medicine and in science.

In addition I also searched for lenses by Squidoo lensmasters on women in history, world leaders, women who dared, medicine, science and inventors, Nobel Prize Winners and women in the military.

The result is this list of recommended books, resources and links for girls, tweens and women (and anyone else) who wants to find out more about famous women in history, science and medicine and those who dared in many different fields.

The books listed here are great inspiring gifts, particularly if you know an aspiring girl who might grow up to become a famous woman.

You might even want to consider gifting a copy of one of these books on Women in History to your school library or local library, so future generations of young women might grow up learning about the contributions of women. One particularly good book to contribute to a library is HerStory: A Timeline which features the contributions of more than nine hundred accomplished women.

Girls Think of Everything available on Amazon

Women have made up half the human race

but you could never tell that

by the books that historians write.

— Arthur Schlessinger, Jr. Historian

Women Scientists at Work

Available from Amazon
Available from Amazon

Women Scientists: Standing Miss Nellie A. Brown

Sitting L to R: Miss Lucia McCollock, Miss Mary K. Bryan, Miss Florence Hedges

Available at the Library of Congress and at Amazon

Why do we need to read about Women in History?

Vote on Women in History, Science and Medicine

If you can remember learning about a famous woman in history, science or medicine, add the women in the comments section so we can see which women are being featured.

Do you remember learning much about Famous Women in History?

See results

Girls Think of Everything

Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women
Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women

If the title of the book doesn't draw you in, the imaginative graphics will.

This fun book about ingenious inventions by women is one that I gifted to my daughters and they have enjoyed reading about all of these inventions.

Reading Level: Ages 8 and up


Including Women as Choices in History Projects

A look from a 2008 excerpt from NWHM's "First But Not the Last" Women Who Ran for President" event where Edie Mayo, Curator Emeritus, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institute, discusses her granddaughter's history project that included Britney Spears as a potential historical figure.

Women Who Dared

Available from Amazon
Available from Amazon

These Women Who Dared include: Bessie Coleman, Susan B. Anthony, Maria Montessori, Eleanor Roosevelt,

Frida Kahlo, Julia Morgan, Maria Mitchell, Florence Nightingale, Margaret Sanger,

Harriet Tubman, Mary McLeod Bethune, Margaret Fuller, Emma Goldman,

Jane Addams, Marian Anderson, Amy Marcy, Cheney Beach, Gertrude Bell,

Dorothea Dix and Isadora Duncan. Poster available on Amazon

Share the 'Young and Brave' with a Young Girl

The National Women's History Museum houses an outstanding online exhibit that features 30 young girls and women who had a positive impact on the United States throughout history.

The young women featured in the exhibit include athletes, inventors, artists, adventurers, guides and revolutionaries. The common thread is that they are all strong positive role models for today's young girls and tweens.

The exhibit was researched by Girls Learn International, curated by Doris Weatherford, historian and NWHM Board member, and designed by Nikki Emser.

Fortune Favors the Brave logo from the NWHM Young and Brave site.

The NWHM Online Exhibit Young and Brave

An excellent, motivational and inspirational resource for young girls and tweens.

Organizations Looking at Women in History

Thankfully organizations like the ones listed below are tirelessly working to ensure that women's contributions and accomplishments get included in mainstream history and culture.

I signed up for Membership in The Cornerstone Club of the National Women's History Museum in honor of my daughters.

For more on supporting including Women in History, visit these organizations who are working on different projects.

Famous Women in History

Reading about Famous Women in History

I do not remember learning much about women in history. I did see the Miracle Worker with Patty Duke, so knew about Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan. I read the Diary of Anne Frank and hear about the exploits of Amelia Earhart. Of course, I went through school at a time when Women's History Month was not an option in schools, so the topic of women's history was missing from education. I definitely did not learn much about women in science and medicine, which might have inspired me even sooner.

Madeline Albright pointed out in Her Story: A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America the accomplishments of women were ignored, minimized, brushed aside or even forgotten, mainly because the scribes or those chronicling the historical events were recording the contributions made by men.

Thankfully these contributions of women are being recorded by a new breed of historian. These historians are writing books and telling the stoies about women who despite the barriers became lawyers, doctors and public figures. Books on famous women in past history like Helen Keller, Anne Frank, Sadako Sasaki and Lucy Stone and women in present history like Oprah, Diana and Kate are available for our daughters and granddaughters to read about and be inspired.

Books on Women in History

Seven Brave Women
Seven Brave Women

Reading Level: Ages 5 and up


Famous Women Leaders

Reading about Famous Women Leaders

In recent years there have been more women have been leaders of their countries like Queen Elizabeth II, Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi, Benazir Bhutto, Angela Merkel, Corazon Aquino and Eva Peron. We have seen more women entering American politics as party candidates, party leaders and holding cabinet positions.

There have also been quiet leaders like Mother Teresa who though diminutive in stature was a giant in compassion and a model of faith and devotion.

In addition to the famous women leaders, there are the unrecognized leaders, the mothers, grandmothers, aunts and daughters who work quietly and diligently leading their families and communities. All of these leaders the famous and those quietly steering their families are inspiring our young daughters.

Famous Daring Women

Reading about Women Who Dared

Perhaps most amazing were the women to dared, those who were explorers, pioneers, aviators, astronauts, activists, oceanographers, racers and environmentalists. These were women who dared doing things that others were not doing at the time and attempting things against the odds.

Women like Katherine Wright, Amelia Earhart, Mercury 13 and Sally Ride dared to explore the sky and ultimately explore space, while Dr. Sylvia Earle dared to explore the depths of the ocean. Lucy Stone was one of many who dared to believe in equal rights for women. Susan Butcher became the first women to win the Iditarod dog sled race four times. There were other women, who were spies, pioneers of the wild west, women explorers and climbers.

Books on Women Who Dared

Women Explorers
Women Explorers

Reading Level: Ages 9 and up


Women Who Dared Books on eBay

Almost Astronauts reading level is for ages 10 and up

Famous Women in Medicine

Reading about Famous Women in Medicine

Women have been healers and keepers of medical knowledge since ancient times. Many women were shamans and midwives. In modern times they have been the nurses and some even became physicians.

Reading about women in nursing and in medicine like nurses Florence Nightingale and Clara Barton or physicians like Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, Dr. Mary Walker and Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross may inspire young girls to become leaders in medicine.

Thankfully for my daughters, the thought of being a physician is not a foreign idea for them, since they are being raised by a mother who is a physician.

Books on Women in Medicine

Uncle Sam's Only Woman Chemist

Miss Margaret D. Foster, Uncle Sam's Only Woman Chemist

Available at Library of Congress and Amazon

Famous Women in Science and Invention

Reading about Women Scientists and Inventors

Women scientists have won Nobel Prizes, like Dr. Marie Curie (winning awards in Physics and Chemistry) and contributed to computer programming like Ada Lovelace, explored the depths of the ocean like Dr. Sylvia Earle and understanding "man" by studying and living with chimpanzees like Jane Goodall.

Women have also been inventors like Bette Nesmith Graham, who invented Liquid Paper; Dr. Yamile Jackson, who invented the Zaky an ergodynamic positioning pillow for NICU babies and movie actress Hedy Lamarr who developed the technology which ultimately lead to "frequency hopping" the technology used for Bluetooth, GPS, wireless telephones and other present-day communication systems.

For Christmas I am getting my girls, Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women, so they might be inspired to create even more of their own inventions.

Books on Women Inventors and Scientists

Famous Women in Nobel Prize Winners

Reading about Women Nobel Prize Winners

Since 1901 Nobel Prizes have been awarded in the areas of physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, peace and economic sciences. Between 1903 and 2011 there have been a total of 43 Nobel Prizes awarded to women. Overall this is still a very small percentage (approximately 7 %), since women have received Nobel Prizes 43 out of the 549 times the prizes have been awarded.

Women have been award winners since 1903, when Marie Curie won the Nobel Prize for physics. She would also win another award for chemistry in 1911. Women have won prizes in all of the different areas including two prizes in physics, four prizes in chemistry, ten in physiology or medicine, twelve in literature, fifteen in peace and one in economic sciences.

Notable winners have been Pearl Buck for literature winning in 1938 and Toni Morrison winning in 1993; Barbara McClintock for physiology or medicine in 1983 and Elizabeth H. Blackburn in 2009; Mother Teresa winning for peace in 1979, Aung San Suu Kyi in 1991 and Wangari Maathai in 2004; Elinor Ostrom for economic science in 2009 and most recently Ellen Johnson Sirleaf , Laymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman for Peace in 2011.

Books on Women Nobel Prize Winners

Famous Women in the Military

Reading about Women in the Military

In researching this lens, I came across lenses by Nancy Carol on Military Women in Combat and the Story of the Women's Army Corps, which sent me in search of other resources about women and their contributions in the military.

Women have served many roles in the military and during wartime. They have served as soldiers and officers either officially as pilots in World War II or unofficially, in disguise as soldiers in both armies during the Civil War. Women were the nurses and some were even doctors who tended to the wounded. Women have also worked as spies, saboteurs and rescuers during war. Women worked behind the scenes in the factories during World War II playing critical manufacturing roles when the men were off fighting.

The Arlington Ladies (one of my lenses) are a small group of volunteers that ensures no soldier, sailor, airman or Coast Guardsman is ever buried alone at the Arlington National Cemetery. One Arlington Lady attends each service presents an official hand-written condolence card to the families of the fallen hero.

Books on Women in the Military

Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History

Women Who Dared - II

Available from Amazon
Available from Amazon

These Women Who Dared include: Ida Wells-Barrett, Wangari Maathai, Sarah Bernhardt,

Carrie Chapman Catt, Sojourner Truth, Mourning Dove, Gabriela Mistral, Elizabeth Cady Stanton,

Edith Spurlock Sampson, Georgia O'Keeffe, Jeanette Rankin, Junko Tabei,

Margaret Mead, Aung San Suu Kyi, Gabrielle Chanel, Bessie Smith, Josephine Baker,

Wilma P. Mankiller, Lucretia Mott, and Karen Horney. Poster available on Amazon

History of the Books on Famous Women in History

Give a Book about the Many Famous Women in History, Science and Medicine.

— Holiday Elf

Who is your favorite Famous Women in History, Science or Medicine?

Comment on Books for Famous Women in History

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    • HealthfulMD profile imageAUTHOR

      Kirsti A. Dyer 

      6 years ago from Northern California

      @Wedding Mom: And young girls.

    • Wedding Mom profile image

      Wedding Mom 

      6 years ago

      I like the idea of giving books such as this. It will empower women.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      It's so important to learn about women who have made a positive impact upon the world we live in.

    • Franksterk profile image

      Frankie Kangas 

      7 years ago from California

      Another excellent lens. I'll be coming back for books to read. Thanks for making this a wonderful lens showing casing women in history. Blessed. Bear hugs, Frankster

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      What an excellent list of books of Famous women in history. I want to read them all myself! In the 1950s I was fascinated with Clara Barton. I think she was the only famous woman I read about in those days. Maybe Marie Curie. But it was definitely a man's world in those days.

    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 

      7 years ago from So Cal

      This is not only good for tween girls. I have a tween boy who needs to learn about these women. Sometimes we overlook the person in pursuit of their accomplishments. I am amazed at all the resources here so angel blessed for creating a lens we can learn from without me having to do any work.


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