Celebrating Women's History

In the Community and Beyond

For your Calendar! October 19, 2016 

Congratulations to Lottie Wilson Jackson and the Mary Free Bed Guild on their inductions into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame!


Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame

Awards Dinner & Induction Ceremony
Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Link here to RSVP

Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center
219 S. Harrison Road
East Lansing MI 48823

Reception – 5:00 p.m. * * * * Dinner – 6:00 p.m. * * * * Ceremony – 7:00 p.m.

Mary Free Bed Guild has roots dating to 1891 when a group of Grand Rapids women sought to help people who could not afford health care. They passed a small black purse asking anyone named Mary – or anyone who knew someone named Mary – to donate ten cents.  The group quickly raised enough money to fund a local hospital bed called the “Mary free bed.”

The Mary Free Bed mission: Restore hope and freedom through rehabilitation.

What they do: Ensure a medically sound and fiscally solid rehabilitation operation.

How they do it: See with their hearts to understand what is important.

Guild-sponsored rehabilitation initially focused on children. The first pediatric orthopedic clinic was opened in 1920. In 1923, the Guild worked with  the Grand Rapids Public Schools to establish accessible classrooms for children with disabilities. The Guild’s Children’s Convalescent Home opened in 1930, received designation as the orthopedic center for western Michigan by the Michigan Crippled Children’s Commission in 1934 and was renamed the Mary Free Bed Guild Convalescent Home and Orthopedic Center. More about Mary Free Bed at this link.

Lottie Wilson Jackson

As the lone African-American delegate at the 1899 national suffrage meeting in Grand Rapids , Lottie Wilson Jackson represented the National Colored Woman Suffrage Association. She was a popular interview subject for the local press and reported that her organization's efforts were "all for the uplifting of our colored sisters. If white women need the ballot, the colored need it no less." Her resolution that "colored women ought not be compelled to ride in smoking cars, and that suitable accommodations should be provided" them when travelling, caused the biggest stir at the convention and illustrates the decades-long tensions between reform movements. After stirring debate the resolution was finally tabled as a cause "outside the province of the convention." Michigan native Jackson studied art in Chicago , then lived in suffrage-stronghold Bay City, reportedly devoting the proceeds from her miniature portraits on ivory and porcelain to the cause of equal suffrage.


More information about the inductees here.

Women’s Equality Day, 2016

On August 26, 1920, women in the United States won the right to vote with the ratification of the 19th Amendment. Women’s Equality Day is celebrated each year on August 26 to commemorate the passage of the 19th Amendment and to call attention to women’s continuing efforts toward full equality. (photo and text: National Women’s History Project website).

More on Women's Equality Day at this link (scroll down the page).

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


GGRWHC in the Media and More

Link here for more headlines and stories.

Congratulations to GGRWHC member, Dixie Anerson, West Michigan World Affairs Council direction, on receiving the Foreigh Policy Association Medal this month at the Harvard Club of New York. The medal recognizes individuals who demonstrate responsible internationalism and work to expand public knowledge of international affairs. See the full Mlive story here.

GGRWHC board member, Julie Tabberer, recently named the Local History Department supervisor with the Grand Rapids Public Library, was interviewed as a part of C-SPAN's Cities Tour, Grand Rapids series. Julie presented an inside view into the library's furniture design and rare books collections. See the full interview here. The GRPL's Furniture Design Collection is the second largest in the country. From the late-19th century through the first half of the 20th century, Grand Rapids was a major center of U.S. furniture production. 

Look especially around minute four of the video for a segment on women's early role in the furniture industry!

Julie holds an MILS degree from Wayne State University and has worked as a librarian and library assistant in the Grand Rapids History and Special Collections Department at GRPL. She previousl worked in the archives of Steelcase, Frederick Meijer Gardens, and Davenport University.

Longtime friend and member of GGRWHC, WGVU's Shelley Irwin is named the 2016 Athena Recipient: "Now in its 27th year in the greater Grand Rapids community, the prestigious ATHENA Award honors an individual who has demonstrated leadership in their professional field, mentored and opened doors of opportunities for women, and contributed time and talent to the community." 


May 2016: Ruth Van Stee is the Recipient of the 2016 Baxter Award presented by the Grand Rapids Historical Society.

April 2016: Harriet Tubman becomes the first African-American to be featured on U.S. paper money and the first woman to be depicted on paper currency in 100 years.

During March 2016, Women's History Month:

GGRWHC Annual Reception and Meeting featuring Mayor Rosalynn Bliss and a program, "Shattering Glass Ceilings: Five Firsts in Grand Rapids Women's Elective History," by Deirdre Toeller-Novak; The Grand Rapids Press reports on the program.

Jo Ellyn Clarey and Deirdre Toeller-Novak talk with Shelley Irwin on the WGVU Radio Morning Show prior to the annual reception and program.

Anita VanOrsdal, Ph.D., Yvonne Sims, and Jo Ellyn Clarey appear with Shelley Irwin on WGVU television's "Ask the Women's History Expert." 

Grand Rapids Magazine publishes "Cause & Effect: People Helping People in West Michigan: Promoting Local Women," by Ann Byle. 

WGVU Radio host Shelley Irwin features Julie Tabberer and Drew Damron in a Morning Show program highlighting a Grand Rapids Public Library/GGRWHC program, "Gert, Grace and the Berkey & Gay Girls: Women, War & Work in 1910s Grand Rapids."

February 2016: Jo Ellyn Clarey and Yvonne Sims are interviewed by Shelley Irwin on WGVU's Morning Show about their presentation, "1890s Grand Rapids' African American Women."


Reprise: GGRWHC Annual Reception & Program

March 30, 2016

Program: Shattering Glass Ceilings—Women’s Elective History in Grand Rapids, 1888-2015  

Special guest: Mayor Rosalynn Bliss

One hundred-twenty people attended our annual  reception and celebration of Women's History Month on March 30 at the Women's City Club. The large group enjoyed an evening with drinks and wonderful hors d'oeuvres, prepared by the Women's City Club chef.

A link to the full program is here.