GGRWHC at the Midwestern History Association Conference

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Fourth Annual Midwestern History Conference
Sponsored by the Midwestern History Association and
the Hauenstein Center at Grand Valley State University

For the fourth consecutive year the MHA will meet in Grand Rapids, giving locals the opportunity to stay on the cutting edge of the reviving field of Midwestern studies. This assemblage of scholars—including those from the Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council—is dedicated to re-energizing study of the role of the Midwest in American history. Attend all or just part of the day-long offerings—but don’t miss the GGRWHC’s presentation at 7:00 pm! Scroll down for more and stay tuned at!

Courtesy of GVSU’s Hauenstein Center, admission will be open to the public and free, including a complimentary lunch—if you RSVP! Also find the day’s complete schedule on the following:

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The Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council
at the MHA Conference
GVSU DeVos Campus Downtown
Wednesday, June 6th, 7:00 pm

When in 1917 the American wartime government established the Woman’s Committee of the Council of National Defense, 17,000 local organizations sprang up immediately. Invited in because of military needs, the nation’s women citizens made contributions ranging far beyond specific war needs and their traditional gender roles.

Midwestern Women and the Children’s Programs of the WWI Council of National Defense will be the second in GGRWHC’s three-year project illustrating the little-credited but incredibly important American women’s initiatives to create a home defense by guaranteeing healthy food sources, raising healthy children, and ensuring the health of women in the industrial work force. This year’s focus will be on how women’s programs benefited children, ensuring the future health of the nation in the wake of a public health disaster. When one third of American male draftees failed their physicals, the better care of American children became an important aspect of an ongoing home defense. Integrating local histories into the national story, Melissa Fox, Jayson Otto, and Sue Caldwell will report on a variety of 1918 “Children’s Year” initiatives in urban Grand Rapids, Michigan, and rural Jasper County, Indiana.

Riding the Rails on the Children’s Special: Weighing and Measuring Babies along Michigan’s Interurban Lines, Melissa Fox, Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council

Children’s Recreation as a Defense Measure: The Case of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Jayson Otto, Aquinas College

Schooling for War in Rural WWI Jasper County, Indiana, Sue Caldwell, Director-At-Large of the Indiana Genealogical Society & Jasper County Genealogist for the IGS

Who Was a “Single” Woman? Complicating the Concept!

The GGRWHC Annual Reception, Thursday, March 15, 5:00 – 7:00pm

John F. Donnelly Conference Center at Aquinas College

Join us for wine and hors d’oeuvres at our annual reception as we step off ideas discussed by author Rebecca Traister in All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation. (See p. 9 on her visit to Grand Rapids on March 13.)

GGRWHC will open up the conversation by complicating the relationship between singledom and progress for women. To Traister’s examples we will add vivid anecdotes about Grand Rapids’s own “single ladies”—single for so many different reasons. After local researchers present cameo portraits of women who, on the one hand, could be considered quintessentially “single,” they will also ask exactly what “single” means in terms of personal histories, various kinds of support networks, age, race, divorce, and widowhood.

Included will be a WWII Red Cross volunteer/second-wave feminist activist, a businesswoman/suffragist/politician, a renowned cultural historian, an educator/suffragist/club woman, a world-class botanist/real estate tycoon, and a little-known nineteenth-century African American women’s club, both staid and radical!

Honoring this sampling of women we will also honor our researchers who have brought them back into the light–and lift a glass to some favorite married ladies for their contributions to social reform and massive change in Grand Rapids’s history. One will be a GGRWHC founder, Jane Hibbard Idema, also namesake of our host Aquinas College’s Jane Hibbard Idema Women’s Studies Center.

Finally, State Representative Winnie Brinks will be on hand with a proclamation congratulating us on our 30th anniversary for the work we have done since 1988 uncovering, then covering, the history of local women!

We hope you will join us for this fun, annual event! Please RSVP via email at [email protected] or by phone at 616-574-7307

11th Annual History Detectives, January 20

History Detectives is a week away! Time to take a look at the programs and plan your day.  Starting at 9:30am, the morning set includes a history of Madison Square Church and the surrounding business district, a historical charting of Grand Rapids women’s runs for public office beginning in 1887 (at 10:30am), and a survey of historical markers (at 11:30am).  Following the lunch break, the afternoon set leads with African Americans in Early Grand Rapids (at 1:00pm), a look at the Voigt family clothing dating from the 1890s through the 1970s (at 2:00pm), and an early history of the Creston neighborhood (at 3:00pm).  There is a little something for everyone – come for one program, or stay all day! View the full brochure here.

Save the Date: History Detectives 2018

History Detectives 2018 / January 20 9:30am-4pm / Ryerson Auditorium at the Grand Rapids Public Library

Planned and co-sponsored by local historical and cultural organizations, including the Grand Rapids Public Library, Grand Rapids Historical Commission, Grand Rapids Historical Society, Grand Rapids Public Museum, Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council, the Kutsche Office of Local History at Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids City Archives, and the Western Michigan Genealogical Society, History Detectives is a day-long event made up of six programs exploring various aspects of Grand Rapids History. Presented by area historians, topics are varied and reflect the unique heritage of West Michigan. For details about individual programs see the History Detectives webpage.

Finding Minnie R. Mickel