In the Community and Beyond
July 21, 2016, 10:00 a.m., DeVos Place (Riverfront). A statue of businesswoman Anna Sutherland Bissell (1846 - 1934) was installedalong the river outside DeVos Place. Eighth in the Community Legends series, Bissell has joined Helen Claytor, the first woman so honored. Sponsored by the family of Peter Secchia, the project has also funded statues of Lyon, Chief Noonday, Jay Van Andel, the Most Rev. Frederick Baraga, Lyman Parks, and Stanley Ketchel. See more photos and read about the July 21 event in MLive.
History of the Grand Rapids Community Legends Project: Mlive.com
Anna Sutherland Bissell was an innovative, progressive businesswoman who built a small carpet sweeper company into an international giant. Her business career began with her marriage to Melville Bissell and their move to Grand Rapids from Kalamazoo in 1871 to expand their crockery and china business. They were a well-matched team. Melville was a skilled inventor and craftsman, and Anna understood marketing and business development. After Melville developed a functional carpet sweeper in 1876, Anna sold their product from town to town, building a broad customer base. When a fire struck the first manufacturing plant in 1884, it was Anna who secured loans from local banks to keep the business going.
After Melville's death in 1889, Anna became chief executive officer and over the next 30 years built the company into the largest firm of its kind in the world. She initiated progressive labor policies, including workers compensation insurance and pension plans, long before these were widespread in industry.
The mother of five children, Anna shouldered civic as well as family responsibilities, founding the Bissell Settlement House, which provided aid and education to needy women and their families. She also extended her personal commitment and financial support to the Blodgett Home for Children, the Union Benevolent Association (now Blodgett Memorial Medical Center) and the Clark Memorial Home. In 1991 Anna Bissell's work brought her an honored place as the only woman in the Junior Achievement of Michigan Great Lakes Business Hall of Fame.
Learn more about the life and work of Anna Sutherland Bissell.
WACS, WASPS, SPARS, and Marines:
Nicknames, Recruiting, and the Wartime Experience of Servicewomen from Grand Rapids
by Will Miner,
Grand Rapids Public Library History and Special Collections
Thursday, November 10, 2016, 7:00pm
Ryerson Auditorium, Grand Rapids Public Library
The Second World War saw the first large-scale employment of women in the armed forces of the United States. Initially unwelcomed by the services, women were first accepted by the Army, later the Navy and Coast Guard, and finally the Marine Corps. This struggle for acceptance is reflected in how they were portrayed in the media, how they were recruited and trained, and even in the nicknames they were given. This presentation will include record of the struggle in Grand Rapids and examine how, though being the most resistant of all the forces, the Marine Corps ultimately became the most progressive branch of the armed services in its acceptance of women.
Co-sponsored by the Grand Rapids Historical Society & Grand Rapids Public Library
More information here