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


February 24, 2014
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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Celebrate Women's History Month with GGRWHC!



Women at the Bar: A Century of Women Attorneys in  

 Grand Rapids, 1870s to 1970s


Local attorney and Grand Valley State University (GVSU) law studies professor, Ruth Stevens will trace the first century of women attorneys in Grand Rapids. In the late 1960s and 1970s, a new wave of women attorneys began joining the local bar, paving the way for many others to follow. Yet, these women were not the first to practice law in Grand Raids. Ms. Stevens will tell the story of Elizabeth Eaglesfield, the first local woman to hang out her shingle and begin advertising for clients in the late 1870s.  Ms. Eaglesfield was followed by Ella Mae Backus, the first female attorney in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Michigan and its backbone for 30 years. These women and others such as Gale Saunders have become mostly unknown today. Ms. Stevens will bring their stories back to life and link them to the next wave of female lawyers who helped shape the Grand Rapids legal community as it is today.


Elizabeth Eaglesfield's 1878 advertisement in the Grand Rapids Eagle.


Ms. Stevens' program is sponsored by the

 Greater Grand Rapids Women's History Council.


Gerald R. Ford Museum, 303 Pearl Street NW

 7 p.m. Thursday, March 13, 2014

Free and open to the public

Free parking

Reception following  


A Suffragist Spring:
Taking Over The Grand Rapids Press in 1914

When setting goals for 1914, the National Equal Suffrage Association called for rallies, participation in parades across the country, and the Equal Suffrage Associations' takeover of their local newspapers for a day to promote their cause.The Grand Rapids Equal Suffrage Association met this challenge by editing and producing the May 2, 1914, edition of
The Grand Rapids Press.
Ruth Van Stee, from the Grand Rapids Public Library, History and Special Collections, will talk about this edition, the local women involved, and how their work fit into the national movement.
Join us on April 30 to celebrate the 100
th anniversary of the day Suffragists took over
The Press! The Council also invites members and nonmembers to its end of year reception and brief annual meeting.

pic for 100th anniversary of takeover of The Press
A strange New World--a Women's World--has risen out of the void.
 Greater Grand Rapids Women's History Council

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

5 p.m. Hors d'oeuvres & wine ticket bar

($5/glass or free to up-to-date members)

5:30 p.m. Program & Annual Meeting 

Women's City Club, lower level auditorium, 254 Fulton Street 

Free & Open to the Public

Park Free in Women's City Club Lots


For February Historical Fun Facts visit our Homepage, 






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 5:30 p.m. the first Tuesday of the month 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 [email protected] or plan to attend a meeting.


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Forward this newsletter! Friends can sign up to receive it by clicking the button in the left-hand margin. Help us spread the word about GGRWHC!
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!