Over the last few years, there has been an increase in the in glossy books of profiles of women in history, bringing alive stories that have been forgotten or ignored. Examples include Vashti Harrison’s Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History and Little Dreamers: Visionary Leaders Around the World, Rachel Ignotofsky’s Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World and Women In Sports: 50 Fearless Athletes Who Played to Win, Libby Jackson’s Galaxy Girls: 50 Amazing Stories of Women in Space, and more which can be found on Goodreads lists like “The Overlooked Women of History” and “Women in Focus.” Anthologies like these, whether written for children or adults, with brief profiles are perfect “book snacks” for the library school student who needs a break from school or work but doesn’t have time for a long book or even article!
One such anthology that I read recently is Mackenzi Lee’s Bygone Badass Broads (BBB). What began as a Twitter series became a book of brief essays about women in history who have done amazing things but whose stories have been lost or less well-known due to time, sexism, and other historical misdeeds. Featuring 52 women, readers will learn about women they may have never read about before or have not heard much about in the popular narrative. Lee’s tone throughout the book is sarcastic, irreverent, and yet still honoring of the women she features. As someone who as a child devoured biographies and anthologies about women in history, I was surprised at how many women in this book I had never heard about before.
I had the pleasure and opportunity recently to hear author Mackenzi Lee speak in my city while I was in the middle of reading BBB. While discussing both this anthology and her other works, she emphasized her interest in and the importance of finding and sharing stories off the beaten path, of those who history has forgotten, intentionally or otherwise. Her enthusiasm and excitement for history and writing was infectious and inspirational, leading me to think more intentionally about the areas of my life where I can lift up the stories and lives of others who are not necessarily at the center of society.
Books like Bygone Badass Broads and other anthologies mentioned above are important reminders for library school students of the importance of looking for the untold or undertold story. Traditional narratives are often the simplest story to tell and it can be easy to miss the stories and the needs of the marginalized or ignored who are around us in our work, school, or personal lives. Our lives as students and information professionals are only improved when we consider the perspectives of others different than our own.
What group of people’s stories would you write about for an anthology?
Sarah Davis is a Bilingual Youth Librarian at a public library in Oklahoma and an MLIS student at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa.
This post is part of an occasional series discussing how non-library-school-specific books and materials are relevant to library school students. To read others in this series, check out the tag Reviews.