Notable Women in Natural History

Women have played an important role in the advancement of the natural sciences, despite the fact that it has long been a male-dominated field. Learn more about some of the women that have contributed to the biodiversity sciences and explore their works in these resources from the Biodiversity Heritage Library.

Book Collection

This collection includes selected works created by women who made direct contributions to the study of Botany and Zoology either by way of authoring or editing works on the subject or by providing critical illustrations to support the works authored by someone else. This collection is by no means comprehensive.

View the Books

Early Women in Science Online Exhibit

Funded by a grant from the Smithsonian Women's Committee, the Early Women in Science exhibit highlights some extraordinary women in science who began their work prior to 1922. Their contributions to science include scientific research, publications, and/or illustrations. These women are trailblazers in their own right, contributing greatly to the advancement of natural history despite the hardships of operating in a male-dominated field. Enjoy learning about these women scientists who persisted and succeeded in the sciences, some of whom were lauded by some of the most famous scientists, not to mention their own male colleagues, within their lifetimes.

View the Online Exhibition

View other Online Exhibitions from the Biodiversity Heritage Library.

This exhibit curated by Laurel E. Byrnes.

Flickr Images

Explore a selection of historic scientific illustrations created by women over the past 300+ years in our Women Illustrators in Natural History Flickr collection. You can help us improve access to these images by tagging them with the scientific names of the species depicted in each illustration. See our guide to find out how to tag the illustrations and make these valuable resources from some of natural history's most renowned female contributors more accessible to the world!

View the Flickr Collection

 Want to know who illustrated each image in our Women Illustrators Flickr collection? Just check out the "tags" section and you'll see entries for "artist:name=[Insert Artist Name]." 

Created with flickr slideshow.


The Early Women in Science online exhibit is made possible thanks to the generous support of the Smithsonian Women's Committee.