Published in 1983, In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Womanist Prose is a collection composed of 36 separate pieces written by Alice Walker. The essays, articles, reviews, statements, and speeches were written between 1966 and 1982. Many are based on her understanding of "womanist" theory. Walker defines "womanist" at the beginning of the collection as "A black feminist or feminist of color. From the black folk expression of mother to female children and also a woman who loves other women, sexually and/or nonsexually. Appreciates and prefers women's culture. Committed to survival and wholeness of entire people, male and female".
In addition to writing about womanhood and creativity, Walker addresses subjects such as nuclear weapons, anti-Semitism, and the Civil Rights Movement. In a 1984 review of the collection, Lynn Munro noted that: "Reading these essays not only gives one a clearer sense of Alice Walker but also countless insights into the men and women who have touched her life." As Munro put it, Walker "captures the voices of unsung heroines" with whom she has crossed paths.