Greater Grand Rapids Womens History Council
  P.O Box 68874, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-8874                     Phone: 616-574-7307



November 2, 2016

GGRWHC Board of Directors

Mary Seeger,
Jo Ellyn Clarey,
Susan Coombes
Connie Ingham
Ruth VanStee,
  Newsletter editor 

Jennifer Bryant 
Jo Ellyn Clarey
Kristin Du Mez 
Connie Ingham 
Kyle Irwin
Mary Seeger
Ruth Stevens 
Amy Dunham Strand 
Julie Tabberer
Kate van Liere   
Ruth Van Stee

Deirdre Toeller-Novak
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Grand Rapids Women in the Armed Forces

WACs, WASPs, SPARs, and Marines:
Nicknames, Recruiting, and the Wartime Experience of Servicewomen from Grand Rapids
Presented by Will Miner,
  Grand Rapids Public Library History and Special Collections

Thursday, November 10, 7:00 p.m.
Grand Rapids Public Library Auditorium             

he Greater Grand Rapids Women's History Council is pleased to provide the November 10th program of the Grand Rapids Historical Society--just two days after the historic 2016 presidential election and one day before Veterans Day.  Honoring women veterans, Will Miner will highlight the WWII experiences of local women Marines to illustrate the first large-scale employment of women in the United States armed forces.

Local women Madelen Staskiewicz, Rosalind Kleine, and Barbara Shoen taking the oath with recruiter Lt. Nancy McKenna. 
Grand Rapids Herald , August 1, 1943, page 1 of the women's section.

Miner will use local press reports, oral histories, and historical photographs to illustrate the experiences of Grand Rapids area women as they challenged popular opinion and military tradition for the opportunity to defend their country.

Great losses early in WWII led both Allied and Axis nations to employ more women than ever before as workers, nurses, clericals, auxiliaries, and in some countries even combat roles. The U.S. resisted the idea of women in the military, so American women were invited into military roles relatively late. The argument of proponents of women's service--that having women fill non-combat jobs allowed more men into combat units--prevailed in early 1942.  Women were first accepted by the Army, later the Navy and Coast Guard, and finally the Marine Corps.
The first woman in West Michigan to be admitted to the Marine Corps: 
Marjorie Newton Barrett of Cascade Township. 
Grand Rapids Herald , March 7, 1943, page 1 

This presentation will highlight the Grand Rapids record of struggle  and examine how, though being the most resistant of all the forces, the Marine Corps ultimately became the most progressive branch of the armed services in its acceptance of women.

Veteran Will Miner served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1992 to 1996 and is currently a library assistant in the archives of  the Grand Rapids Public Library. A 2003 graduate of GVSU, he earned a Masters in Library and Information Science from Wayne State University in 2013.

Co-sponsored by the Greater Rapids Women's History Council, the Grand Rapids Historical Society & the Grand Rapids Public Library 

A related treasure from the Greater Grand Rapids Women's History Council's oral history collection was featured in our most recent hard copy newsletter about Marie Jay Cady, (1903-1996). Read about her at this link.

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For more information on this program and other events and more, visit the Greater Grand Rapids Women's History Council website.

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Not a current member of GGRWHC?   Register or renew your membership and help offset the expenses associated with annual research and programs. Your membership helps to set the record straight on the women who've made history here in our community.

GGRWHC Board Meetings

Board meetings are held on the second Wednesday of the month at 5:30 p.m. at the Vanderveen Center for the Book at the Grand Rapids Public Library. If you have suggestions for programs, oral histories, or other items, please email us or plan to attend a meeting.



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Thank you for your interest in preserving and celebrating the history of the many phenomonal women who've helped to shape West Michigan!  If you aren't already a member of the Greater Grand Rapids Women's History Council, consider showing your support through annual membership.  Visit our web site for more information and the ability to register using Pay Pal online!

Hats off to the historical women who've shaped West Michigan!