The Oxford Encyclopedia of Women in World History


The Oxford Encyclopedia of Women in World History, edited by Bonnie G. Smith, captures the experiences of women throughout history in a far-reaching, four-volume work. Although there has been extensive research on women in history by region, no other text or reference work has comprehensively covered the role women have played throughout world history. With over 650 biographies of influential women and over 600 topical articles covering topics such as geography and history, culture and society, organizations, movements, and gender studies, Women in World History is the definitive reference work in the field.

In the past thirty years there has been an explosion of research and an effort to present the experiences and contributions of women not only in the Western world, but across the globe. Scholars have investigated women’s daily lives in virtually every area and researched the leadership roles women have filled across times and regions. They have found that there is virtually no historical, social, or demographic change in which women have not been involved and by which their lives have not been affected. Women in World History helps tell this story, illuminating how women worldwide have influenced and been influenced by these historical, social, and demographic changes.

Bonnie G. Smith is Board of Governors Professor of History at Rutgers University and the Director of the Institute for Research on Women at Rutgers University. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Rochester and is the author of The Gender of History: Men, Women, and Historical Practice; Global Feminisms: A Survey of Issues and Controversies; Gendering Disability; and The Medieval and Early Modern World.

e-reference edition ISBN: 9780195337860
Print edition ISBN: 9780195148909
Print edition publication date: 2008
Publishing history: First published 2008
Copyright: © Oxford University Press 2008



The Encyclopediacontains over 1,250 signed articles arranged in an A-Z format for ease of use. The entries cover six main areas: biographies; geography and history; comparative culture and society, including adoption, abortion, performing arts; organizations and movements, such as the Egyptian Uprising, and the Paris Commune; womens and gender studies; and topics in world history that include slave trade, globalization, and disease. With its rich and insightful entries by leading scholars and experts, this reference work is sure to be a valued, go-to resource for scholars, college and high school students, and general readers alike.

This was selected as an Outstanding Reference Source for 2009.

Editorial Reviews from Amazon


5.0 out of 5 Stars

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Aiming to survey “women’s history in all parts of the world and at all times in the past,” The Oxford Encyclopedia of Women in World History contains nearly 1,250 entries and subentries covering not only individual women but a very wide range of other topics, from Brazil to Buddhism, Feminism to Footbinding, and Welfare state to Witchcraft. Biographical coverage is “representative rather than exhaustive.” The biographical entries are among the shortest—generally less than a page in length—and, with a few exceptions, cover women who are deceased. Among the longest entries are Education (17 pages), Family (15 pages), and Slavery (18 pages). There are also lengthy entries for some nations and geographic regions, most notably China (23 pages) and the U.S. (22 pages). The entry Africa is 12 pages and is supplemented by separate, multipage entries for Central Africa, East Africa, North Africa, Southern Africa, and West Africa as well as for some individual African countries. Under polygamy in the index, readers will find references to the practice in ancient China and Egypt, in Iraq, in Russia, and among the Aztecs, to name just a few. This global perspective, bolstered by the fact that the 900 or so contributors represent “some fifty countries around the world,” is one of the set’s most important contributions. All entries and subentries have bibliographies, and many have see also references. Some 450 black-and-white illustrations accompany the text. An alphabetical list of articles and an extensive chronology can be found in volume 1, and volume 4 contains a “Topical Outline of Entries,” a “Directory of Contributors,” and a very detailed 73-page index. There is no shortage of reference works on women’s history. A number of them, such as A History of Women in the United States: State-by-State Reference (Grolier, 2003) and Women and War: A Historical Encyclopedia from Antiquity to the Present (ABC-CLIO, 2006), are more narrowly focused. The 17-volume Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia (Gale, 2002) covers nearly 10,000 women but has no topical entries. By merging women’s and world history, the impeccably produced Oxford Encyclopedia of Women in World History earns a place on the reference shelves of academic and large public libraries. --Mary Ellen Quinn


"[Its] global perspective, bolstered by the fact that the 900 or so contributors represent 'some fifty countries around the world', is one of the set's most important contributions....By merging women's and world history, the impeccably produced Oxford Encyclopedia of Women in World History earns a place on the reference shelves of academic and large public libraries."--Mary Ellen Quinn, Booklist


"Smith does an admirable job of summarizing and synthesizing a vast academic literature in clear, jargon-free language that will engage scholars and general readers alike....Highly recommended for academic and public libraries."—CHOICE




5.0 out of 5 stars

Deserves more than 5 stars

By Walah Azzam Al Sabah on June 27, 2008

Format: Hardcover

This product deserves more than 5 stars. Simply excellent, this 4-volume encyclopedia has made its reader comprehend the history of women socially, politically and economically.

This book, although simple and easy to read, would be very beneficial to people specialized in women's studies. If you are interested in women's studies, or would like to achieve a professional career in the sphere, you have got to purchase this Superb 4-volume encyclopedia.

If you want to understand how women have fared throughout history in an economic, political and social sense, this 4-volume encyclopedia will help you comprehend just that. It is very helpful.