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



January 30, 2015

GGRWHC Board of Directors

Falinda Geerling,
Ruth VanStee,
Connie Ingham
Janet Brashler 
Jennifer Bryant 
Jo Ellyn Clarey
Susan Coombes 
Sharon Hanks
Kyle Irwin
Mary Seeger
Ruth Stevens
Jill Straub
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February 12 Program :
Roberta Griffith, Visionary
Because of a presenter's unexpected medical problems, for now our previously announced February program on early African-American women's clubs has been delayed. It has been replaced with a subject who deserves more attention than she has received in recent years: Roberta Griffith, founder of Grand Rapids Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired. And just the man for this job is former city historian, Gordon Olson. Our thanks to Mr. Olson for sharing it with us--and you!

Olson will review the life and work of the extraordinary Roberta Griffith and her 
many innovative programs for the blind and visually impaired. He will be joined by Rick Stevens, current executive director of the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, which celebrated its centennial anniversary in 2013. Mr. Stevens will update us on Griffith's legacy to Grand Rapids and today's programs and services of the ABVI.

7 p.m. Thursday, February 12, 2015 
Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum 
Admission and Parking is free. 
Cookie and Punch Reception follows.  


Despite having lost her sight as an infant, Roberta Griffith led an extraordinary life on national, state, and local levels. Griffith, born in 1870, was ten years older than Helen Keller. Working together on more than one occasion, they traveled the nation with others, seeking to improve services for the blind. Griffith had graduated from Case Western Reserve University and embarked on a career in journalism before moving to Grand Rapids, where she then began a new career as a real estate agent at the same time she developed her own version of a braille system and produced a dictionary for the blind.


Roberta Griffith at her desk 

Never losing her determination to learn, create, and help others, Griffith founded the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Grand Rapids in 1913. She served as its executive secretary until her death in 1941, for almost thirty years.  

This program is co-sponsored by the GGRWHC, Grand Rapids Historical Society, and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.

Visit our web site for more information.                 
Growing up in Auburn Hills
On Sunday, February 15, 2015, GGRWHC is sponsoring the first part of a two-part program for the annual Grand Rapids Public Library's Black History Month event, Taste of Soul. The 1:30 p.m. session is entitled Growing up in Auburn HillsLocal community leaders Beverly Grant and Ellen James will reflect on their experiences growing up in the Auburn Hills neighborhood of Grand Rapids. Auburn Hills was developed on the Northeast side of Grand Rapids in the 1960s by black community leaders who persisted in developing the subdivision in spite of segregation, institutional racism, and strong opposition from neighbors and other community leaders.   


Grant and James will be joined by Jennifer Metz of Past Perfect, Inc. and Mary Edmond, a retired educator who began teaching in the Grand Rapids Public Schools in the 1960s.  They will provide perspectives on historical patterns of housing segregation in Grand Rapids and the obstacles faced by the developers of Auburn Hills. This program will also feature a first look at some media content from the Auburn Hills--History of Racial Equity in Grand Rapids.  

For more details, visit our web site

Celebration of Women's History Month 
Wednesday, March 18, 2015, is the date for this year's GGRWHC annual celebration of Women's History Month.  The schedule is: 5 p.m. hors d'oeuvres & wine ticket bar ($5/glass); 5:30 p.m. brief 2014-2015 annual report and election of new board members; 5:45 p.m. program TBA. The event is at the Women's City Club, lower level auditorium, 254 E. Fulton St. It is free and open to the public. Free parking is available on the south side of the building or in the lot on Lafayette Ave.
Watch for more details on our web site!




Join us or Update your Membership!  

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 first Tuesday 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!