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The Library

Biblioteca Italiana delle Donne holds Italy’s largest collection of books relating to women’s culture, feminist theory and gender studies. The collection includes approximately 40.000 books and 495 journals and magazines, both current and historical. Our books relate to the following thematic areas:

The main thematic areas documented are:

  • feminism, women’s studies, history of women’s movements, gender studies and queer studies
  • women’s rights, politics and work
  • women’s bodies and sexuality
  • women’s perspectives in ethics, philosophy, psychology and psychoanalysis
  • women, feminism and theology
  • ICT and the gender divide
  • women’s art, literature, poetry, theatre, cinema, publishing and critics
  • fashion
  • postcolonial studies, development studies, conflict resolution and migration studies



1. The Historical Collection

The Historical Collection represents a unique heritage for Italian women’s studies, both in terms of the quantity of material and in terms of the subject matter. It’s the remarkable result of a significant effort of research on the traditions of women’s culture in Italy.

The collection includes:

  • Books: approximately 4.000 items, the most ancient of which is a 16th Century cinquecentina on the education of women. Most part of the collection is composed by books published during the last two centuries, but there are also examples of 17th and 18th Century books
  • Magazines and Periodicals: more than 100 historical Italian journals and magazines dedicated to and/or published by women, dating as far back as to the 19th Century, such as La donna, Vita femminile, Il Giornale delle donne, Cordelia, Madame. Collections of rare periodicals can also be found here, such as La donna fascista, the official women’s newsweekly of the Italian Fascist Party
  • Reference Books: 350 biographical and autobiographical works related to important Italian and foreign women of different background: painters, musicians, actresses, saints, queens, benefactresses, poetesses, women of letters, scientists, politicians, etc. This section is enriched by a special collection of 150 epistolaries exchanged among public female figures of the European cultural scene
  • Italian Literature and Poetry Section: it includes the work of some of the most famous Italian women writers, such as Sibilla Aleramo, Annie Vivanti, Ada Negri, Grazia Deledda, Cristina Campo, Neera, Anna Banti, and of less famous writers as Clotilde Marghieri, Carola Prosperi, Camilla Del Soldato; it collects also the work of recent writers as Laura Morante and Natalia Ginzburg. Many are the first editions and autographed items. The Historical Collection represents a precious source for researchers on history of women’s culture, offering a great amount of information about the Women’s Liberation Movements throughout the world (for example, texts by Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst, Millicent Fawcett, Anna Maria Mozzoni, Anna Kuliscioff, and others), and about the many complex aspects of women’s social, political and cultural history.


2. The “Grey Literature” Collection

The collection includes:

  • Photos: a photographic collection of Italian women artists’ portraits, from the 19th to the early 20th Century: Wanda Capodaglio, Eleonora Duse, Emma Gramatica, Dina Galli, Maria Callas, Lina Cavalieri, Toti Dal Monte, and others. It also includes many autographed pictures
  • Posters, Flyers, Calendars: it collects posters and political manifestoes of high historical value, such as the Manifesto della donna futurista, or public declarations and political appeals, such as the Appello delle donne italiane al momento dell’invasione, dating back to the WWI; there also calendars and other various kinds of material, including a handwritten original thesis dating back from the 19th Century.


3. The Rosi Braidotti Collection

Donated by Professor Rosi Braidotti to Associazione Orlando, it includes approximately 200 books on contemporary feminist philosophy in many different languages.


4. The Concetto Pozzati Collection

The important artist from Bologna, deceased in 2017, donated a collection of more than 200 books, focusing in particular on Italian women artists’ exhibition catalogues, flyers and on the history of Italian women’s art.


5. The Ida Gianelli Collection

The collection was donated by the art critic Ida Gianelli in 2014, and it gathers a large amount of books and periodicals dedicated to women’s art and literature, with a particular interest in feminist art and literary expression born from different women’s liberation movements of the world, especially from the United States.

It collects more than 600 books, periodicals and a large amount of other material (letters, postcards, flyers, etc), gathered personally from Ida Gianelli during her career as head of Castello di Rivoli-Museo d’Arte Contemporanea.


6. The Laura Lilli Collection

The collection represents the personal library of the writer, poetess and literary journalist Laura Lilli, passed away in 2014: it collects more than 7000 books and it was donated to the Library by her heirs in 2016 according to her will. Novels, poems and literature written by Italian and foreign women constitute the largest part of this unique collection, which includes also items autographed by iconic writers as Doris Lessing, with whom Laura Lilli had a literary and friendly relationship.

The collection is still under the evaluation process, so only a part of it is accessible to the public for loan or consultation.