In the Community and Beyond
June 27: Michigan Women Who Made a Difference
Jewish Voices Conference
Join women and men from across the state for a day of celebrating and sharing the stories and achievements of Michigan’s Jewish women who helped to build and shape our communities, organizations, and institutions.
1715 E. Fulton St., Grand Rapids, Michigan
“The Michigan Women Who Made a Difference project provides a place for preserving Jewish women’s stories and achievements. History has been “his” story. It is imperative to preserve “her” story before it is lost.” Jeannie Weiner, Jewish Historical Society of Michigan. Link to a brochure with complete program details.
“It takes vision, adaptation, involvement and dedication to accomplish a dream of preserving the past, so it may be enjoyed by the future. L’Dor V’Dor. From Generation to Generation.” Peg Finkelstein, Temple Emanuel
*** Free and open to the public! Refreshments and lunch provided—but please register here for planning purposes.
8:30 a.m. - Check-in, refreshments and tours of Temple Emanuel
9:30 a.m. - Invocation and welcome [Temple Emanuel features Hearing Loop technology]
9:45 a.m. - Morning Session 1: “How to Preserve Women’s Stories,” a workshop led by Aimee Ergas -- A Show & Tell session, sharing completed biographies.
10:45 a.m. - Break
11:00 a.m. - Morning Session 2: “Making Visible Jewish Women in American Sport History” Linda J. Borish, Western Michigan University
12:15 p.m. - Luncheon and Special Presentation: Excerpts from “Becoming Dr. Ruth,” performed by Grand Rapids’s Lori Jacobs
1:45 p.m. - Panel Discussion: “Cultural Barriers Faced by Jewish Women Yesterday and Today” with Linda J. Borish, Kirsten Fermaglich, Michigan State University, Karla Goldman, Sol Drachler Professor of Social Work, University of Michigan
3:00 p.m. - Thank you and Evaluation
July 21, 2016, 10:00 a.m., DeVos Place (Riverfront). A statue of businesswoman Anna Sutherland Bissell (1894 - 1934) will be installed this summer along the river outside DeVos Place. Eighth in the Community Legends series, Bissell will join 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.
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.
July 29, 6:00 p.m., GRPL Main Library, 111 Library St. NE. Whether you are looking for information within your own family tree or researching a piece of women's history for your next project, the Grand Rapids Public Library's History and Special Collections department will offer a free program that will introduce you to valuable resources:
Learn how to use the microfilm reader/scanner/printer, save images, and take advantage of free copying and printing during the event. Use the time to search databases—we will have plenty of computers available or bring your own laptop and use the library’s WiFi network. Bring your genealogy questions or Ancestry and Heritage Quest problems—volunteers will be on hand to assist. Network with other genealogists —you never know what you might find! Registration required: www.grpl.org/register or call 988-5400.