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


November 26, 2013
GGRWHC Board of Directors

Falinda Geerling,
Cindy Dorman,
 Vice President
Ruth VanStee,
Connie Ingham
Janet Brashler
Jo Ellyn Clarey
Susan Coombes
Gayle Davis
Sharon Hanks
Kyle Irwin
Mary Jane Keeler
Jef McClimans
Jennifer Morrison
Mary Seeger
Ruth Stevens
Jill Straub
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We've Moved! Thanks to GRCC and Irwin Seating!


During 2013 the Greater Grand Rapids Women's History Council celebrated 25 years of existence and outlined goals for the next 25--at the same time we experienced huge changes in our everyday business.


We pause now to give thanks to the Grand Rapids Community College, which provided much-needed office space for fifteen years, and to Irwin Seating, which graciously offered us a new home. As we prepared for the move, we sorted through evidence of 25 years of activity, three four-drawer filing cabinets full!


Irwin office files 

The GRCC actually drove our packed materials across town, and Irwin Seating offered muscle and technical help as we settled into our new home.  



Irwin office  

While we are grateful to everyone who helps further our mission, this season we honor the generosity of GRCC and Irwin Seating in particular for space--for making it easier for us to rewrite local history, to unearth and distribute information about the little-known but significant roles played by women in the development of our community.


Among the Council's first projects were research workshops and a conference, which showed off how much had been uncovered in just two years. Early efforts grew into city-wide celebrations called Legacy. More than 50 local organizations, representing the arts, education, health care, business, labor, religion, etc, helped us discover more information and highlight what had already been found.


For 25 years now the Council has recruited and trained researchers, encouraged donations to the archive of the Grand Rapids Public Library, distributed bibliographies to indicate its holdings, digitized materials for broader dissemination, and developed creative programming to spread information about the early accomplishments of female scientists, attorneys, journalists, even reformed courtesans.


Today's Council continues to move into new territory--from re-enacting the national suffrage organization's visit to Grand Rapids in 1899 to broadcasting information as we parade on July 4th . Read more fully about our efforts here-The Rapidian.


Watch our Website

Click on our homepage ( to send support and to read about the 2013 State History Award given to GGRWHC and partner organizations for History Detectives: Sleuthing for Local History. Then scroll down for more information about our history with History Awards and the upcoming History Detectives program. Stay tuned for full descriptions soon!

Sneak Peek at 2014!  


Check Upcoming more information, but scroll down here for a peek at 2014 and mark your calendars!


*** On January 18th, the GGRWHC will again join other local history organizations for History Detectives, a full day of programming from 9:30am to 4:00pm. GGRWHC will begin the day with Dr. Richard H. Harms's "Women on the Homefront: The 1940s in Wartime Grand Rapids." He will elaborate on how the war affected every area of life in Grand Rapids, in particular the little known aspect of how local women responded to the nation's "call to arms."


*** On February 13th, celebrate the founding of Pine Rest. Among the group of visionaries creating the Christian Psychopathic Hospital in 1910 was one Jakoba Beuker Robbert. The rudiments of her story can be found in Lillian Grissen's 1991 book, For Such a Time as This, which features the stories of 26 local Christian Reformed women, also including the founders of Bethany Christian Services and the Reformed Bible College. See For Such a Time as This


*** On March 13th, GVSU Legal Studies Coordinator Ruth S. Stevens will present "Women at the Bar: The First Century of Women Attorneys in Grand Rapids, 1870s-1970s," bringing to life the stories of early practitioners, beginning in 1878, and linking them to a new wave of 1960s and 1970s pioneers who helped shape the Grand Rapids legal community as it is today.


*** Prepare now for Cindy Laug's May 8th program on the extinction of the passenger pigeon in 1914 by reading a woman's angle: the 1934 personal recollection of Etta Smith Wilson, Grand Rapids' first professional woman journalist, and then read more about her!


Not a current member of GGRWHC? Membership is easy and helps offset the expenses associated with research and programming presented each year. 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 pm 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 at or plan to attend a meeting.


 Share the Newsletter with Your Friends

Forward this newsletter! Friends can sign up to receive it by clicking the button in the left hand margin. Don't assume they are with us--with every technological shift, we miss people.


Please take a moment to forward this message to others you know who may be interested in Women's History.  If you've received this message as a forward, consider joining our mailing list (click on the button in the left column above!) in order to receive future updates about programming.

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!