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Women's History Month 2024: Misbehaving Women Who Made History: Home

Misbehaving Women - Associated Images


Have you ever heard the expression, "Well-behaved women seldom make history," first used by historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich? The chances are that you just might have.  Although Ulrich used this phrase to argue that well-behaved women should make history, the quote has taken on a life of its own.  The way in which this quote is now used emphasizes women who have defied the gender expectations of their times and, in essence, misbehaved.  This research guide celebrates the women who have "misbehaved" and made history from Hatshepsut to Yohl Ik’nal to Toypurina to Ogino Ginko to Fatima al-Fihriya to Zheng Yi Sao and more!  Women have been rulers, artists, scholars, crime fighters, criminals, entrepreneurs, physicians, and more throughout history, but many are rarely mentioned outside of women's and gender studies programs or specialized studies within larger disciplines.  Like any human beings they had their flaws and foibles, but they also had the strength and fortitude to defy conventions and carve their own paths, wherever those roads might have led.  This library guide presents a sampling of the many amazing (and sometimes infamous) women who have made history.  Some of the names may be unfamiliar, and I hope that you decide to do further research.  As always, if you would like more information, please don't hesitate to contact your friendly neighborhood NVC librarians.

Note:  The images in the carousel above are associated with the women in this guide.  In a few instances, representative images had to be used (e.g. the artist's painting in place of a portrait), as no rendering of the woman in question was available.

----Compiled by Amy Catania, PhD