The institution unveiled special reading recommendations, a tour of its Polonsky Exhibition of The New York Public Library’s Treasures focused on women’s history, and a new member of its librarian “Hall of Femme” 

March also marks the last chance visitors can see some special objects in the Treasures exhibition, including the earliest printing of the Declaration of Independence with the signers, which was printed by a woman, Mary Katherine Goddard

The New York Public Library is celebrating Women’s History Month with a new reading recommendations list, a new self-guided tour of its Polonsky Exhibition of The New York Public Library’s Treasures focused on women’s history, and a new member of its “Hall of Femme” honoring revolutionary women who who shaped the Library and changed the way people across the city, country, and world read, learn, and access information.

The institution is also offering a series of free events (both virtual and in-person) focused on women’s history.

All of the Library’s Women’s History offerings can be found at nypl.org/womenshistorymonth.

More details on these initiatives below:

  • Reading Recommendations: The Library has unveiled two new lists of reading recommendations to mark Women’s History Month: first, Women Writers on Women in History, and second, 31 Books by Women, a list of 31 titles by women published within the last five years and recommended by the Library’s expert staff (including Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson, Her Body and Other Parties: Stories by Carmen Maria Machado, and Normal People by Sally Rooney). New Yorkers can borrow these books for free at any of The New York Public Library’s locations, or in e-book format via the SimplyE e-reader app. Developed by the Library in 2016, the SimplyE app allows readers to browse, borrow, and read books from anywhere with a smartphone.
  • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Kathie Coblentz, A New Member of The Library’s “Hall of Femme”: In 2021, the Library launched Foreword: Women Who Built NYPL, a virtual showcase that honored women librarians—some well-known, some whose credit was long overdue—who changed the face of librarianship, reading, and access. Each year during Women’s History Month, the Library plans to add another librarian to this special group, making it a virtual “Hall of Femme.” In 2022, that librarian is Kathie Coblentz. Coblentz was an institution at NYPL, spending over 51 years at the Library, most notably in the special formats processing department of the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs. Known as an extremely dedicated, thorough, and vigorous cataloger who took very seriously the responsibility of connecting the public to our collections, she meticulously did her job, making discoveries and observations along the way that she would enthusiastically share through thoughtful blog posts. Her supervisor Deirdre Donohue described her work as “artisanally-crafted catalog and authority records that were the products of detective work, deep research, and skepticism about facts leading to truly rich description and access of items in the library’s coffers of great value and importance. These metadata portraits will live on” and serve researchers for generations to come. Coblentz tragically died in 2021 in an automobile accident, but her positive impact on the Library will live on forever.

Some of the items on the tour need to be removed from the exhibition beginning on March 24  (while Treasures is a permanent exhibit, items rotate for preservation reasons). Visitors are encouraged to get timed tickets at nypl.org/treasures to see these rare items, including: 

  • The Goddard Broadside: The second official printing of the Declaration of Independence, which was the first to feature the names of most of the signers. The 1777 document is known as the “Goddard Broadside,” as it was printed by Mary Katherine Goddard, a prominent printer and bookseller and Baltimore’s first postmaster. By appending her name to the Declaration, Goddard essentially committed treason by openly aligning herself with the cause of the newly formed United States and inviting the same risks to her life and property as those faced by members of Congress.
  • Umbrella belonging to author of Mary Poppins P.L. Travers: The fanciful umbrella belonged to the author of Mary Poppins and resembles the one that allowed the title character to fly. Pamela Lyndon (P.L.) Travers’s American editor presented the umbrella to The New York Public Library in May 1972, at the same time that Travers herself donated a small collection of artifacts associated with her well-loved storybook series.
  • Letter from Leonard Woolf to Vita Sackville-West concerning Virginia Woolf’s death: Vita Sackville-West inspired Virginia Woolf’s 1928 novel Orlando, an exploration of gender and identity modeled on the two women’s intense romantic relationship. They remained so close that Sackville-West was one of the first people that Woolf’s husband, Leonard, notified of his wife’s probable suicide in 1941. He wrote, “[Virginia] has been really very ill these last weeks & was terrified that she was going mad again. It was I suppose the strain of the war & finishing her book [Between the Acts] … I think she has drowned herself as I found her stick floating in the river, but we have not yet found the body.” The walking stick is also in the Treasures exhibition.

About The New York Public Library

For 125 years, The New York Public Library has been a free provider of education and information for the people of New York and beyond. With 92 locations—including research and branch libraries—throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, the Library offers free materials, computer access, classes, exhibitions, programming and more to everyone from toddlers to scholars, and has seen record numbers of attendance and circulation in recent years. The New York Public Library receives approximately 16 million visits through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at www.nypl.org. To offer this wide array of free programming, The New York Public Library relies on both public and private funding. Learn more about how to support the Library at nypl.org/support.