About Josephine Dean (1851–1934)
On September 2, 1906, Josephine Dean ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Grand Rapids Board of Education. Prior school board elections had taken place independently within each respective city ward, but the 1906 election was different. A 1905 charter revision created a new system in which school trustees would be elected ‘at large’ from the entire city area. Instead of holding separate district elections, the city would be considered one big district with one election. Dean received 2,002 votes, which put her in twenty-seventh place out of forty-five candidates.
Little is known about Josephine Dean beyond her choice to run for the school board. She was born in 1857 and died in 1950. Her husband John H. Dean was active in local politics and a socialist. Her political views are unknown, but she would not have been the only female socialist to run for local office in Grand Rapids. Several female candidates in the history of the Grand Rapids Board of Education professed socialist views.
“City Vote in Detail.” Grand Rapids Herald, April 3, 1906.
“For Board of Education.” Grand Rapids Herald, April 1, 1906.
“Obituary: Dean.” Grand Rapids Press, August 14, 1934.
“Revised Returns of City Election.” Grand Rapids Herald, April 4, 1906.