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Women in History for Homeschoolers

Learn how to enrichen a homeschool curriculum with women's history.
Updated: December 1, 2022

History for Homeschooled Girls

Isabel Shaw

History Revisited, Not Revised

"Each time a girl opens a book and reads a womanless history, she learns she is worth less." —Myra and David Sadker, authors of Failing at Fairness

As homeschoolers, we have the freedom to incorporate a wealth of new information about women into our history studies every day. But must we rewrite history to do so?

Not necessarily. We can simply take a new look at the past and tell the story from adifferent perspective. The National Women's History Projectreminds us: "We do not rewrite history, but make very different judgments about what isimportant to be remembered and who the significant players were."

It's important for our daughters and our sons to learn that women did play important rolesin shaping the past. History should tell the whole story, and serve as inspiration forgirls everywhere. The following resources will help history come alive, and just might inspireyour daughter to make a little history of her own!

Resources: Nonfiction and Fiction

World History
For ancient history,my daughters loved Vicki Leon's Outrageous Women series. There'sOutrageousWomen of Ancient Times,Outrageous Women of the Middle Ages, andOutrageous Women of The Renaissance. Featuring good text with crisp, clean artwork, these books are recommended forages nine and up.

The Other Half of History series, by FionaMcDonald, is another winner. Color photographs and beautiful illustrations show us how ancient women livedas managers, priestesses, royalty, and artists.Womenin Ancient Egypt,Women in Ancient Greece, andWomenin Ancient Rome are good choices for ages eight and up.

Extraordinary Women Scientists, by Darlene R. Stille, contains biographies of 50 women, from astronomersand geologists to biomedical engineers and nuclear physicists. Find information on women scientists fromancient times to the present. This is a good resource to encouraging girls ages 12 and up to explore math and science.

Herstory — Women Who Changed the World, by Ruth Ashby and Deborah Gore Ohrn, is a good resourcebook for homeschool students ages 10 and up. This collection of 120 short biographies of notable women spansthe time period from ancient Egypt to the 20th century.

American History
Women of the Wild West, by Ruth Pelz, is a small but powerful book. It features biographies frommany cultures, with beautiful photographs and concise historical information. For ages eight and up.

Heroines of the American Revolution, by Diane Silcox-Jarrett, is a collection of inspiring truestories about the important roles women played in creating a revolution and founding a new nation.A great read-aloud book for younger kids, and a read-alone for ages eight and up.

For readers ages 12 and up,Founding Mothers, by Linda Grand De Pauw, is a classic book about women of the revolutionary era.

Women in the Civil War, by Douglas J. Savage, is part of the Untold History of the Civil Warseries. This book has maps, a Civil War chronology, a book list for further reading, and websitesfor learning about women in the Civil War. An inspiring but not overwhelming book for ages eightand up.

Girls — A History of Growing Up Female in America, by Penny Colman, is an inspiring bookthat should be in every homeschool library. Beautiful photographs and drawings accompany thetrue stories of girls' everyday trials and triumphs. It's hard to give an age range: I read italoud to my 7-year-old; my 12-year-old loved it; and my 83-year-old mother couldn't put it down!

They Led the Way: 14 American Women, by Johanna Johnston, includes short biographies ofwomen who spoke up and took action on things they believed in. The first woman profiled,Anne Hutchinson (1591-1643), was banished from Boston for speaking her mind!Good for younger kids ages 7-12.

The Diaries: Historical Fiction
If you have a daughter aged 9-14, chances are you know about the "diaries."Based on actual historical events and characters, these books present historicalfiction in diary form. Most girls love them. The diaries shouldn't replace seriousstudy, but can be a good introduction to spark an interest in history. There arecurrently three series of diary books for girls.

Dear America: These 23 hardcover books feature topics like pilgrims(AJourney to the New World — The Diary of Remember Patience Whipple, by Kathryn Lasky)and slavery(APicture of Freedom — The Diary of Clotee, a Slave Girl, by Patricia C. McKissack).

American Diaries: A series of paperback diariesby Kathleen Duey, which follow a similarformat:MaryAlice Peale, Philadelphia,1777;SarahAnne Hartford, Massachusetts, 1651.

The Royal Diaries: A seriesof eight diaries detailing the lives of pastroyalty. TryCleopatra VII: Daughter of the Nile, byKristiana Gregory, orMarie Antoinette: Princess of Versailles: Austria-France, 1769, by Kathryn Lasky.

More Resources

On the Web
The National Women's History Project was founded almost 20 years ago.The group continues to offer a wide array of history resources and special features each month.

The Web has made even obscure facts about women's history accessible to everyone. Did you know that the whole story ofPocahontas and John Smith is a myth? Decide for yourself

Historical Artbooks

For quality coloring books about strong women in history, try these titlesfrom Bellerophon Books($3.95 and up):Women Explorers,Woman Composers,Cowgirls, andCivil War Heroines.The paper dolls are unusual,too. I knew I was on the right trackwhen my then six-year-old orchestrated aconversation between Susan B. Anthony and GoldaMeir. (Great Women Paper Dolls is $4.95.)

Videotapes are important resources for women's history. I recommendAnne Frank,Eleanor Roosevelt,Josephine Baker, and a three-part series titled,A Century of Women.

The Ken Burns' documentary on ElizabethCady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony highlights the struggles and accomplishments ofthese two amazing women. Share with your daughter how the course of history was changed bytheir tireless efforts for women everywhere.

Pulling It All Together

Most homeschoolers use several resources to make learning effective. Discovering one interestingaspect of history often leads to another: After renting a movie aboutJoan of Arc(from the CBS miniseries), my daughter and I did a Web search on the medieval heroine and saint. We vieweddocuments containing her signature, read transcripts of her trial, and saw the banner she carriedinto battle in 1431

Inspired, my daughter readJoan of Arc, by DianeStanley(for ages eight and up), andYoung Joan, by Barbara Dana (for ages eight and up), and then requested more books on medieval history.We found Theresa Tomlinson'sThe Forestwife (for ages nine and up), a reworking of the Robin Hood story that focuses on MaidMarian, and Karen Cushman'sThe Midwife's Apprentice (for ages nine and up), a Newbery Award-winning portrayal of medievalwomen.

Inspiration for Tomorrow

By focusing on women of the past, our daughters can learn what they're capable of today -- and tomorrow.Heroic women, everyday women, and those who dared to be different all teach our daughters to believe inthemselves and follow their dreams. With a little help from you, those dreams just might become a reality.

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