News & Updates

Women's History Celebration & GGRWHC Annual Reception Acclaiming Local Women Pearl Kendrick and Grace Eldering

Pearl Kendrick, a co-developer of the whooping cough vaccine that has saved thousands of American children's lives.

The Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council is delighted that GVSU historian Carolyn Shapiro-Shapin, Editor of Mlive/Grand Rapids Press Julie Hoogland, and Medical Reporter Sue Thoms will join us for our annual celebration of Women's History Month. This year the focus is on the life work of researchers Pearl Kendrick and Grace Eldering. These two pioneering scientists developed one of the first, and best, vaccines against whooping cough, which in the 1930s killed 6,000 American children annually. With support from the community and dedicated laboratory help from chemist Loney Clinton Gordon, they later refined their vaccine and shared it with the world.


Take the MLive Poll and Share Your Thoughts on Honoring Kendrick and Eldering

Vote for your favorite way and place to honor the legacy of these pioneering women.

Our annual program's topic this year was taken right out of MLive The Grand Rapids Press and other community and national news:  The startling outbreaks of deadly childhood diseases that have been preventable for decades through vaccinations. One of these deadly diseases was and is whooping cough or pertussis. In the 1930s, the first and best vaccination was developed by two Grand Rapids researchers--Pearl Kendrick and Grace Eldering. With support from the community and dedicated laboratory help from chemist, Loney Clinton Gordon, they later refined their vaccine and shared it with the world. Now it seems only 75 years later, we have forgotten their remarkable discovery and why it was so important to not only our community, but also the nation and the world. At the time almost 6,000 American children a year were dying from whooping cough. 

In Process: Digitizing World War I Women's Registration Cards from Grand Rapids

A sample WWI Women's Registration Card from GR. The digitization project of these cards needs some volunteers.

For a number of years, the GGRWHC has been updating you about the status of the digitization of Grand Rapids' unique collection of women's WWI registration cards. The history of this collection in a nutshell is: At the end of April 1918, Grand Rapids volunteers for the Woman's Committee of the Council on National Defense participated in a national survey, collecting data about area women who registered for home front service during World War I. They recorded personal information about interests and skills that could be useful to the war effort. Over 23,000 of these registration cards were completed. . . .