Women's History in Hollywood

Women's History in Hollywood

Covers of books about Women's history in Hollywood over a sepia colored film background.

Women have been part of a variety of areas of filmmaking since its invention, but their achievements have been largely ignored outside of the celebrity around Hollywood actresses (many of whom also should be celebrated as well). Check out some of these suggestions to learn more.


Compiled by:
Brandon R.
The female gaze : essential movies made by women

Alicia Malone
Adult Nonfiction - 791.43922 Mal

"The Female Gaze comprises of multiple mini-essays written by a variety of diverse female film critics, about a woman or a movie made by women that they love. It delves into what the female perspective gives to each of the films."


From reverence to rape : the treatment of women in the movies

Molly Haskell
Adult Nonfiction - 791.436522 Has

A classic of feminist film criticism, "Haskell draws on her amazing knowledge and understanding of American film to comment witheringly upon the ways producers, directors, and critics from the 1920s and onward have treated women."


Hollywood, her story : an illustrated history of women and the movies

Jill S. Tietjen & Barbara Bridges
Adult Nonfiction - 791.4308 Tie

"With more than 1200 women featured in the book, you will find names that everyone knows and loves—the movie legends. But you will also discover hundreds and hundreds of women whose names are unknown to you: actresses, directors, stuntwomen, screenwriters, composers, animators, editors, producers, cinematographers and on and on. Stunning photographs capture and document the women who worked their magic in the movie business."


House of psychotic women : an autobiographical topography of female neurosis in horror and exploitation films

Kier-La Janisse
Adult Nonfiction - 791.4361 Jan

"An autobiographical exploration of female neurosis in horror and exploitation films. Anecdotes and memories interweave with film history, criticism, trivia and confrontational imagery to create a reflective personal history and examination of female madness, both onscreen and off."


Ida Lupino, director : her art and resilience in times of transition

Therese Grisham
Adult Nonfiction - 791.4392 Lupino Gri

"Dominated by men and bound by the restrictive Hays Code, postwar Hollywood offered little support for a female director who sought to make unique films on controversial subjects. But Ida Lupino bucked the system, writing and directing a string of movies that exposed the dark underside of American society, on topics such as rape, polio, unwed motherhood, bigamy, exploitative sports, and serial murder."


The lady from the black lagoon : Hollywood monsters and the lost legacy of Milicent Patrick

Mallory O'Meara
Adult Nonfiction - 791.4392 Patrick Ome

"As a teenager, Mallory O’Meara was thrilled to discover that one of her favorite movies, Creature from the Black Lagoon, featured a monster designed by a woman, Milicent Patrick. But for someone who should have been hailed as a pioneer in the genre, there was little information available. For, as O’Meara soon discovered, Patrick’s contribution had been claimed by a jealous male colleague, her career had been cut short and she soon after had disappeared from film history."


Nobody's Girl Friday: The Women Who Ran Hollywood

J.E. Smyth
Adult Nonfiction - 384.8082 Smy

Did you know?: "Between 1930 and 1950, over 40% of film industry employees were women, 25% of all screenwriters were female, one woman ran MGM behind the scenes, over a dozen women worked as producers, a woman headed the Screen Writers Guild three times, and press claimed Hollywood was a generation or two ahead of the rest of the country in terms of gender equality and employment."


Off the cliff : how the making of Thelma & Louise drove Hollywood to the edge

Becky Aikman
Adult Nonfiction - 791.4372 Aik

"Drawing on 130 exclusive interviews with the key players from this remarkable cast of actors, writers, and filmmakers, Aikman tells an inspiring and important underdog story about creativity, the magic of cinema, and the unjust obstacles that women in Hollywood continue to face to this day."


Pioneers : first women filmmakers
Adult Audiovisual - AV Oversize 791.43922 Pio

"In the early decades of cinema, some of the most innovative and celebrated filmmakers in America were women. Alice Guy-Blaché helped establish the basics of cinematic language, while others boldly continued its development: slapstick queen Mabel Normand (who taught Charlie Chaplin the craft of directing), action star Grace Cunard, and LGBTQ icon Alla Nazimova. Unafraid of controversy, filmmakers such as Lois Weber and Dorothy Davenport Reid tackled explosive issues such as birth control, abortion, and prostitution. This crucial chapter of film history comes alive through the presentation of a wide assortment of films, carefully curated, meticulously restored in 2K and 4K from archival sources, and presented with new musical scores."


The queens of animation : the untold story of the women who transformed the world of Disney and made cinematic history

Nathalia Holt
Adult Nonfiction - 791.43922 Hol

"As the influence of Walt Disney Studios grew---and while battling sexism, domestic abuse, and workplace intimidation---the vital contributions these women made to Disney's Golden Age and their continued impact on animated filmmaking...transformed the way female characters are depicted to young audiences."


Stuntwomen : the untold Hollywood story

Mollie Gregory
Adult Nonfiction - 791.4365 Gre

"For decades, stuntwomen have faced institutional discrimination, unequal pay, and sexual harassment even as they jumped from speeding trains and raced horse-drawn carriages away from burning buildings. Featuring sixty-five interviews, Stuntwomen showcases the absorbing stories and uncommon courage of women who make their living planning and performing action-packed sequences that keep viewers' hearts racing."


The wrong kind of woman : dismantling the Gods of Hollywood

Naomi McDougall Jones
Adult Nonfiction - 384.8082 Jon

"Informed by the journey of her own career; by interviews with others throughout the film industry; and by cold, hard data, Jones deconstructs the casual, commonplace sexism rampant in Hollywood that has kept women out of key roles for decades. Next, she shows us the growing women-driven revolution in filmmaking—sparked by streaming services, crumbling distribution models, direct-to-audience access via innovative online platforms, and outside advocacy groups—which has enabled women to build careers outside the traditional studio system. Finally, she makes a business case for financing and producing films by female filmmakers."