Celebrating Women's History

GGRWHC in the Media and News worth noting

Congratulations Ruth Van Stee--Recipient of the 2016 Baxter Award presented by the Grand Rapids Historical Society!

The Baxter Award was created in 1980 by the Society to honor persons who have made significant contributions to the preservation and interpretation of Grand River Valley history. Named in honor of Albert Baxter, one of Grand Rapids early historians who published, History of the City of Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1891.  2016 marks 37 years of   honoring these great people and the Grand Rapid Historical Society is pleased to announce the 2016 recipient of the Baxter Award is Ruth Van Stee.

Read about the GRHS and the Baxter Award. 

In the Community


June 1, 2016, Midwestern History Association Conference: Sponsored by the Midwestern History Association and the Hauenstein Center at Grand Valley State University. Link to the MHA website here.

Full conference information and registration here. The conference is free, but you need to register.

Papers at the second annual meeting of the new Midwestern History Association will focus on all aspects of regional history. Among them will be a presentation by Jo Ellyn Clarey, Deirdre Toeller-Novak, and Anita Anthony-VanOrsdal, representing the Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council.

Going Glocal: Shifting Master Narratives Through Grand Rapids Women's History will highlight area history and resources to illustrate how local experts can enhance the work of  professional historians and promote important exchanges in the field. They will share historical resources that professional historians would have difficulty finding, even in this digital age, without its volunteer colleagues, including:


  • Mining the Mother Lode: Women's WWI Registration Cards and The Council of National Defense: Anita Anthony-Van Orsdal, Michigan State University/Grand Valley State University
  • Creating a Resource: A Unique Record of Women's Elective History: Deirdre Toeller-Novak, Greater Grand Rapids Women's History Council
  • Fighting Faulty Assumptions about 1890s Women and Their Clubs, Black and White: Jo Ellyn Clarey, Greater Grand Rapids Women's History Council

Created in the fall of 2014, the MHA is dedicated to rebuilding the field of midwestern history, which has been neglected in comparison to academic attention paid the South and West, in particular. 

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.

In keeping with the theme of the evening, the GGRWHC was pleased to welcome local women holding elective office as well as those running for office. Guests had an opportunity to greet Grand Rapids' first woman mayor, Rosalynn Bliss. Other elected officials included Ruth Kelly, city commissioner, Joe Jones, recently appointed to replace Bliss, County commissioners, Carol Hennessy and Mandy Bolter, and State Representative for the 76th House District, Winnie Brinks. 

Those running for office included candidates for the newly created Family Court Judgeship, Deborah McNabb, and Kathleen Bruinsma who is running for a seat on the GRCC board.  




Deirdre Toeller-Novak presented Shattering Glass Ceilings--Women's Elective History in Grand Rapids, 1988-2015, relating the stories of  five "firsts," Grand Rapids women who were elected to office beginning in 1888: Harriet Cook, Eva McCall Hamilton, Grace Ames Van Hoesen, Evangeline Lamberts, and Rosalynn Bliss.


A link to the full program is here.  
See more photos taken by photographer Diane Carroll Burdick from the event at this link.

Not a current member of GGRWHC?  Register or renew your membership and help offset the expenses associated with annual research and programs. Your membership helps to set the record straight on the women who've made history here in our community.


Gert, Grace and the Berkey & Gay Girls: Women, War & Work in 1910s Grand Rapids

The Berkey & Gay Red Cross Girls, April 1917

Co-sponsored by the Greater Grand Rapids
Women's History Council 
and The Grand Rapids Public Library
June 2, 2016, 7:00 pm, GRPL, 3rd Floor
(This program has been rescheduled following a snowstorm on the original March date!)

(the event is free and open to all)

Celebrate the working women of Grand Rapids a hundred years ago. Using unique archival resources, GRPL local history experts will highlight some of the city’s women employed outside their homes. The last decade of the heady Progressive Era opened personal and professional doors for these 11,000 women; the disruptions of wartime provided opportunities in a working world previously off limits. Download flyer here.