Read All About It: Smithsonian American Women Release Day

Smithsonian American Women book cover with images from the collections.
October292019

The Smithsonian American Women's History Initiative has published our first book, Smithsonian American Women: Remarkable Objects and Stories of Strength, Ingenuity, and Vision from the National Collection.

Publishing a book takes time. This process started over two years ago, when we asked several of our colleagues across the Smithsonian what women's stories, through objects, they'd want to see included in a book. To our delight, we compiled a list of over 2,000 objects. Yes, you read that right: 2,000 objects. From there, we worked to determine which objects would make the final list. We went from 2,000 objects to 500 objects to a mostly reasonable 250-ish objects. After months of writing and editing, this resulted in over 135 essays from 95 Smithsonian authors from 16 of our museums and archives.

Booklist called Smithsonian American Women "unputdownable," and we're inclined to agree. Featuring everything from a Seneca woman's dress to Sally Ride's flight suit, from silver tea sets to Tupperware, from kitchens to quilts, Smithsonian American Women is a celebration of women from all walks of life throughout our nation's history. You'll find women you probably know, like Sojourner Truth and Dolores Huerta, and you'll find some you may not have known but will want to know more about. You'll read about women like Ida B. Wells-Barnett, an investigative journalist, suffragist, and activist who decried lynching and helped found the NAACP. You'll see beautiful, one-of-a-kind objects, every day objects, handmade objects, and sometimes distressing, heartbreaking objects.

These objects and artifacts are part of America's story: a story of many peoples becoming one, a story of resilience, a story of despairing moments, but ultimately a story of hope. We as a nation are ever striving to become a more perfect union, and these objects reflect that ceaseless journey. We here at the Smithsonian are the caretakers for millions of objects that belong to America, and we're thrilled to get to share so many women's stories of with all of you.