Women in Natural History

Women have made remarkable contributions to biodiversity research. From collecting specimens and serving as scientific illustrators to conducting studies, publishing research, authoring natural history books, and more, women have overcome many social and cultural obstacles and gender barriers in what has historically been a male-dominated field to help further our understanding of the natural world. 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

Her Natural History

For Women's History Month, we are excited to recognize and celebrate the contributions of women to natural history through an international social media campaign produced in collaboration with our partners — Her Natural History: A Celebration of Women in Natural History.

Kicking-off with an all-day social media blitz today, 8 March 2019 (International Women's Day,) and continuing throughout the month, Her Natural History aims to increase awareness of and information about women in the biodiversity sciences.

Join the campaign by following #HerNaturalHistory on social media (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) and using the hashtag to share stories, collections, publications, artworks, archival materials, exhibits, and other resources highlighting women and their contributions to natural history. #HerNaturalHistory is also the #LibrariesOfInstagram challenge topic for March.

In addition to social media posts, BHL and our partners will be producing a series of blog posts, Facebook Live events, and citizen science opportunities throughout the month. We'll also be highlighting women in the BHL collection with our Women in Natural History Book and Female Illustrators Flickr Collections, featuring publications, archival materials, and illustrations by female naturalists and artists.

Her Natural History: A Celebration of Women in Natural History

When? 8-31 March, 2019
Where? Social Media (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram)
What? Join us in celebrating women in natural history this Women’s History Month! Follow along and join the campaign using #HerNaturalHistory.
More Information: s.si.edu/hernaturalhistory

Her Natural History

Illustrations in this graphic by female scientific illustrators. Left to right: Maud Horman Fisher (Aid to the Identification of Insects, v. 2, 1882-90); Louise-Cécile Descamps-Sabouret (Revue Horticole, 1899); Emma Kissling (Poissons provenant des campagnes du yacht Princesse-Alice, 1911); Frances Reed (Illustrations of British mycology, ser. 1, 1847).

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.