Reading Recommendation: Dead Feminists

I will eternally beat the drum for women’s history. And when I say “drum,” that could be an actual drum. Or a book against my desk. Or my shoe against the wall.  The world is my women’s history drum! That’s definitely a phrase people say!

There have been so many fascinating, pioneering, challenging women that we never get to hear about. And these days we need to hear about them. It’s important to hear, to be reminded, that history has happened at the hands of a woman.

For Christmas I received the book Dead Feminists: Historic Heroines in Living Color. It’s a collection of letterpress posters and brief biographies devoted to both impactful women throughout history.

It’s at this point I feel I should mention, I realize many people take issue with the word ‘feminist.’ To those people I say stop it ….I really can’t help you…I understand there are many  misconceptions. For most feminists, it’s not about female domination (is that what people who don’t like feminists think? I honestly don’t understand),  it’s about equal rights. And if you hear us getting angry, chances are someone is trying to compromise just that. Plain and simple. Ok? Ok. Moving on.

I have a hard time putting this book down. From the moment you turn back the cover, you are immersed with the images of women designed in what you will come to know as O’Leary and Spring’s artistic styling.


The book is divided into eight chapters. Each chapter examines three women, united behind a similar theme, purposefully named using action verbs.

The Lead chapter (title page seen above) is devoted to community leaders.

When I started reading about these women, I was quickly struck with how few I was actually familiar with.

For example, the book includes women that I grew up hearing about, Eleanor Roosevelt, Alice Paul, Marie Curie, and Rachel Carson, but the book also includes Shirley Chisholm, social activist, the first Black woman elected to the House of Representatives (1968) and the first woman to run for president on a major party ticket (1972).

Each woman’s poster highlights one of her famous quotes. For Chisholm: “The one thing you’ve got going: your one vote.”

I can only imagine that her famous quote, “I breath fire,” was in the running for being featured on the poster. I can tell you, it’s my new favorite response to mansplainers at work and also everyone else.

Or Adina De Zavala, Texas historian, who, identifying an unnamed mission through research and community interviews as the Alamo, camped out in the building for days to prevent its destruction.

Source: Institute of Texan Cultures

“There was nothing else for me to do but hold the fort. So I did.”

Each letterpress poster incorporates imagery from each woman’s culture and work, while O’Leary and Spring inject modern symbolism and references to make these women and their legacy applicable to the current climate.

The following quote could probably stand alone, but they purposefully styled the glasses to reference those worn by then vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

“Come, come my conservative friend. Wipe the dew off your spectacles and see the world moving.”- Elizabeth Cady Stanton

The book ends with suggested reading about both the mentioned dead feminists and Feminism itself, because in terms of historical information, this is mainly just a jumping off point. But if you appreciate history and if you appreciate clever design and you appreciate passionate and strong women, I think this is absolutely worth inclusion on your shelves.

If you’d like to learn more about the Dead Feminists series, you can visit their website or purchase the book for your own collection.

I’ll let Alice Paul wrap us up.

“There is nothing complicated about ordinary equality.”

Should we say it again for ones in the back?!

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