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



May 17, 2016

GGRWHC Board of Directors

Mary Seeger,
Jo Ellyn Clarey,
Ruth VanStee,
Connie Ingham
Jennifer Bryant 
Jo Ellyn Clarey
Susan Coombes
Kristin Du Mez 
Sharon Hanks 
Connie Ingham 
Kyle Irwin
Mary Seeger
Ruth Stevens 
Amy Dunham Strand 
Julie Tabberer  
Ruth Van Stee 
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Ruth Van Stee Wins the 2016 Baxter Award 

" I believe she shows the passion for her work that we value in choosing a deserving recipient for this award."
(John Gelderloos and Alan Bennett, for the Grand Rapids Historical Society board of trustees.)

Ruth Van Stee, presently the secretary of the GGRWHC, is the recipient of this year's Baxter Award, presented at the Grand Rapids Historical Society's spring banquet on May 12.  The award honors persons who have made significant contributions to the preservation and interpretation of Grand River Valley history. Created by the GRHS in 1980, it is named in honor of Albert Baxter, author of the 1891 History of the City of Grand Rapids, Michigan.  
For over twenty years Ruth Van Stee worked for the Grand Rapids Public Library, primarily among its local history and archival holdings. She specialized in African American collections and an extensive women's newspaper clippings collection. In working with the
resources there, she "discovered" a small but culturally rich African American community in early Grand Rapids history and women who were engaged with social justice issues and the economy in the late 19th century and the early 20th century. Little was included about either group in earlier comprehensive histories of Grand Rapids.
From 1999 to 2009, she worked with the Grand Rapids Historical Society, serving as its administrative assistant, secretary, and newsletter editor; and since 2012 she has served as board secretary for the Greater Grand Rapids Women's History Council.

Over the years Van Stee has conducted numerous presentations on Grand Rapids Public Library's resources, particularly at Grand Valley State University's Great Lakes History Conference, introducing an African American newspaper clippings collection and "war in the archives." She has presented on diverse topics to civic groups, college classes, regional conferences, and historical societies. Among them: "A Fresh Look at the Work of Women and Their Contributions to the Economy of Grand Rapids, 1890-1930," " African Americans in Early Grand Rapids History to 1930," "A Suffragist Spring: Taking Over the Grand Rapids Press in 1914,"  and "Spirited Women: Women in Temperance and Prohibition in Grand Rapids."

Other Women
Van Stee is the 37th person to receive this award, and the twelfth woman.  Previous women to receive this award, most of whom were or are members of the Greater Grand Rapids Women's History Council,  are:
Sister Marie Heyda, 1981
Barbara Roelofs, 1986
Mary Ann Edmond, 1988
Mary Jane Dockeray, 1990
Evelyn Sawyer, 1993
Jane Hibbard Idema, 1997
Jo Ellyn Clarey, 1999
Marcia Butgereit, along with her husband Bruce, 2004
Diana Barrett, 2008
Rebecca Smith Hoffman, 2011
Loki Boersma, along with her husband Henry, 2014  

For information about programs and events, watch the web site and follow us on Facebook and Twitter . 

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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!