Notable American Women (5 vols)
Among the Schlesinger Library’s proudest achievements is its support of Notable American Women, the first major modern reference book of women’s biographies. The impact of the first three volumes of Notable, which appeared in 1971 as the women’s movement was gathering steam, was enormous. Their thoroughly researched biographies provided “the intellectual and factual underpinnings for the emergence of women’s history as an important and recognized field in American history,” notes Susan Ware, editor of the fifth volume.
All of the Notable volumes were overseen by teams of editors and advisors. All three project teams struggled with questions of whom to include, what made a woman notable, and how to define “American.” As times changed, so did criteria for inclusion. Successive volumes strove to be more geographically and racially diverse and more inclusive of sexuality and gender issues. All five volumes achieved the same goal: to uncover and document the previously overlooked contributions that women have made to American culture.
Ware, Susan, ed., Stacy Braukman, assist. ed., Notable American Women: A Biographical Dictionary Completing the Twentieth Century, Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2004