In the Community and Beyond
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).
Celebrate Locally on August 25.
Celebrate with women throughout the nation as the GGRWHC celebrates Equality Day. This year we will distribute information one day EARLY, Thursday, August 25. Visit our table on the patio of the Grand Rapids Art Museum from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm to talk about the day and leaders of the local movement beginning in the early 1870s!
For your Calendar! October 19, 2016
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.
Dr. Anan Ameri
Rev. Faith Fowler
Dr. Olivia Lett
Lou Anna Kimsey Simon
Elizabeth Sparks Adams (1911-007)
Daisy Elliott (1917 – 2015)
Dr. Evelyn Golden (1913 – 2005)
Mary Free Bed Guild
Charlotte “Lottie” Wilson (1854 – 1914)
Philip A. Hart Award
The Honorable Damon JH. Keith
Congratulations to the Mary Free Bed Guild on their induction into the
Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame!
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 Gild Convalescent Home and Orthopedic Center. Other key dates in the Guild’s history:
- 1938 – Brace Shop established
- 1946 – Juvenile Amputee Training Program became a national model
- Care for polio patients and children impacted by Thalidomide who filled beds through the mid-20th century
- 1953 – Mary Free Bed began providing adult rehabilitation
- 1976 – larger facilities opened at the current main campus
- Sub-specialized programs are established: cancer rehabilitation, motional analysis center, assistive technology, driver rehabilitation, a spine center
These compassionate beginnings grew to include a $62.5 million flagship hospital, home to 167 inpatient beds, 14 inpatient and 31 outpatient programs, a medical group, and a rehabilitation network that provides expertise throughout Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.
The Mary Free Bed Guild governing the hospital consists of 120 women who reflect the Guild’s commitment to the hospital, the greater community, and to persons with disabilities. Since 1985, the Guild has donated more than $21 million to dozens of organizations dedicated to furthering quality of life for persons with disabilities, including the lead gift to create the world’s first, universally-designed YMCA that benefits persons of all abilities.
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
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.
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.