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


September 23, 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
Kathy Rent
Mary Seeger
Ruth Stevens
Jill Straub
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GGRWHC Salutes 2013 Hall of Fame Inductees


Among the 2013 Michigan Women's Hall of Fame inductees are Grand Rapids's first woman attorney, Elizabeth Jane Eaglesfield (1853-1940), and two Grand Rapids women who were among eleven female participants in the state constitutional convention in the early 1960s, the Con Con Eleven. Reserve now to celebrate them at the Kellogg Conference Center in East Lansing on Thursday, October 17th.  Scroll down for details. 




Elizabeth Jane Eaglesfield (1853-1940)
At an especially early date in the national history of women attorneys, one "Bessie Eaglesfield" hung out her shingle in Grand Rapids in 1878. A recent graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, Eaglesfield managed to balance the life of an active club woman with her performance in the down-and-dirty male world of the law.


In the difficult balance between being a "lady" and being a "lawyer," Eaglesfield generally chose the more adventurous path. Eventually, it led her to Lake Michigan and a colorful career as a fruit boat owner, licensed skipper, and lake lawyer. Her steamship, the Golden Girl became "a fixture on the Lake Michigan horizon," according to contemporary sources. Elizabeth Eaglesfield engaged her tainted world for decades, a rousing model of determination, persistence, and daring. (For more information, see   
Con Con Eleven: Women at the Michigan
 Constitutional Convention


The first Michigan constitutional convention in 53 years was held in 1961-1962. For the first and only time women participated in the writing of Michigan's constitution. Of 147 delegates in 1961-1962, only eleven were women, two from Grand Rapids: Dorothy Leonard Judd (1898-1989) and Ella Demmink Koeze (1905-1986).


Judd never held elective office, but she had much influence on government and public service in Michigan. For years, governors of both parties appointed her to major committees. Koeze served on the Grand Valley State University Board of Control, at various GOP conventions, as president of the Republican Women's Federation of Michigan, and as a director of YWCA Southwest in Grand Rapids. (For more information on both, see,

Women's Hall of Fame Inductions
Thursday, October 17, 2013

The induction dinner and ceremony will be held at the Kellogg Conference Center in East Lansing (55 South Harrison Avenue). For $125 per seat, the public is invited to a 5:00 pm reception (cash bar), 6:00 pm dinner, and 7:00 pm program.

If you cannot attend yourself, please consider donating to dinner scholarships. The Greater Grand Rapids Women's History Council will coordinate tables as well as funding from persons unable to attend with people unable to afford a seat. Please let us know your plans. Please call at 616/574-7307 or send to For full information about statewide inductions into the Hall of Fame and for details about the celebration, see
Check your calendars and plan to attend!
Upcoming Events! 


Click on for more information about the Women's Resource Center's 40th Anniversary event, Western Michigan Genealogical Society's GotAncestors? seminar, GVSU's Great Lakes History Conference, the YWCA's annual TRIBUTE! Awards luncheon, WGVU's Women & Girls Lead Initiative luncheon, a Genealogy Lock-In and Archives A to Z Exhibit in the History and Special Collections Department of the Grand Rapids Public Library. 


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.


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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!