Women Go to War: Furniture Factory Work During World War I

GRPL Exhibit, 4th Floor in the Grand Rapids History & Special Collections Department

“Women Go To War” highlights the wartime furniture factory life of local women during the Great War. The multi-panel exhibit is replete with historical photographs, newspaper articles, labor statistics, and profiles of individual women.

Stop in to see how the Woman’s Committee of the Council of National Defense harnessed the working power, as well as the social and civic relief aims, of more than 20,000 women through voluntary registration.

Learn what working life was like for the women who worked at the Sligh Furniture Company and Berkey &  Gay–two of the most prominent furniture makers employing women during the war–as they moved into roles traditionally held by their male counterparts.

This exhibit illustrates the contributions of women, including the city’s immigrant populations, and the power of community during a tumultuous time.

It can be viewed whenever the library is open.

This exhibit was made possible with the support of the Grand Rapids Public Library Foundation through a grant from the Furniture Manufacturers’ Heritage Fund, a Donor Advised Fund of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation.