Learn More about Maryland Women in History with These Resources

Guest post by Kathy Shelley, Librarian, Information Services Department at the Central Library

Did you know that some women of historic renown have lived in Maryland?

The Duchess of Windsor lived in Baltimore with her mother, as a young girl. You can read about her life in The Duchess of Windsor, by Michael Block, 1997, or The Woman Who Would be Queen, by Geoffrey Bocca, 1954.

The poet, Lizette Woodworth Reese, was widely known during her lifetime. She was “Poet Laureate of Maryland” in 1931. Take a look at the plaque outside the entrance to the Edgar Allan Poe Room, on the 2nd floor of the Central Library. This memorial tablet was commissioned by the Lizette Woodworth Reese Memorial Association. In addition, the library’s Digital Collection, has related photos of sculptures dedicated to her. Her correspondence can be found in the Special Collections Department.

Billie Holiday, the famous jazz and swing singer, grew up in Baltimore. The Fine Arts Department holds a large number of biographies about her including Billie’s Blues: Billie Holiday’s Story, by John Chilton, 1933-1959, 1975. Also, Billie Holiday at Sugar Hill by Jerry Dantzic, 2017, has a number of previously unpublished photographs.There’s a bronze statue of Billie Holiday on the 2nd floor of the Central Library, also.

Mary Young Pickersgill became well-known for having sewn the flag that flew over Ft. McHenry, during the War of 1812. What’s also interesting to note about her is that she helped start a charitable non-profit, the Female Humane Society, which assisted poor women. The Pickersgill Retirement community which began in 1802, is named for her. The Enoch Pratt Free Library has a variety of books about her and her daughter, Caroline, for both adults and children. You can find articles about her in the library’s databases including: Gale in Context: High School, Gale General OneFile, and Proquest Historical Newspapers.

Dominique Dawes was a medal winner at the Olympics, both in 1996 and 2000. She is a life-long resident of Maryland. The library has a variety of books about the Olympics in which she is included. The biography about her is Heart of a Champion: The Dominque Dawes Story by Kim Washburn, 2012, ebook.

Senator Barbara A. Mikulski is the distinguished senator from Maryland who grew up in Baltimore.  The Senator has high praise for the Pratt Library and visited the Canton branch regularly, in her youth. The Barbara A. Mikulski Room is located on the 3rd floor of the Central Library. This is where her mementos and documents from her time as Senator are on display. The room is also used for women’s leadership programming, as well as adult literacy. The library’s Digital Collection has various photos of her during her years of government service. The library has a wide selection of books and biographies about her. The Book of Gutsy Women by Hilary R. Clinton, 2019, 

The heroic Harriet Tubman who grew up in Dorchester County, Md. was a leader of the Underground Railroad. Later in her life she opened a home for the elderly in Auburn, New York. The library has a wide selection of titles about her for both adults and children. The library has the documentary, Harriet Tubman: They Called Her Moses, 2018, as well as the movie, Harriet that came out in 2019.