Notable American Women, 1607–1950

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Notable American Women, 1607–1950: A Biographical Dictionary is a three-volume biographical dictionary published in 1971. Its origins lay in 1957 when Radcliffe College librarians, archivists, and professors began researching the need for a version of the Dictionary of American Biography dedicated solely to women.[1]:xi


Notable American Women was the first major modern reference book of women's biographies, although the genre was common in earlier eras, such as the 1804 A Biographical Dictionary of the Celebrated Women Of Every Age and Country by Matilda Betham.[1] It appeared when Women's studies in U.S. universities had created great interest in understanding women's past.[2] Upon its publication it was viewed by scholars as a magnificent contribution to understanding the role of women in U.S. history.[3]

Writing of the changes in perspective on biography inspired by Notable American Women, 1607–1950 Susan Ware observed, "1,359 entries showed the range and depth of women’s contributions to American life, a pointed correction to women’s near-total exclusion from existing biographical dictionaries at the time and a dramatic spur to further research."[4]


Notable American Women: The Modern Period : a Biographical Dictionary updated the set for subjects who died between 1951 and 1976. The work for that volume was a joint project of Radcliffe College and Harvard University Press funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.[2]

In 2004 volume 5 was issued: Notable American Women : a Biographical Dictionary Completing the Twentieth Century.[5]


  • Notable American Women: a biographical dictionary completing the twentieth century. (2004). Ware, Susan (editor), Stacy Braukman, Assistant Editor. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press: Cambridge, Mass. ISBN 067401488X.


  1. ^ a b James, Edward T.; James, Janet Wilson; Boyer, Paul S., eds. (1971). Notable American Women, 1607–1950; A Biographical Dictionary. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
  2. ^ a b Sicherman, Barbara; Green, Carol Hurd, eds. (1980). Notable American Women: The Modern Period: A Biographical Dictionary. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-62733-8. OCLC 834112895.
  3. ^ Miller, Roberta Balstad (January 1974). "Women and American history". Women's Studies. 2 (1): 105–113. doi:10.1080/00497878.1974.9978340.
  4. ^ Ware, Susan (Winter 2010). "Writing Women's Lives: One Historian's Perspective". Journal of Interdisciplinary History. 40 (3): 413–435. doi:10.1162/jinh.2010.40.3.413.
  5. ^ Braukman, Stacy Lorraine; Ware, Susan, eds. (2004). Notable American Women: A Biographical Dictionary Completing the Twentieth Century. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press. ISBN 978-0-674-01488-6. OCLC 937332808.