May 20 , 2020 I  I 616-574-7307
Causes for Celebration!
Historian Ellen Carol DuBois’s highly anticipated Suffrage: Women’s Long Battle for the Vote is out! Then scroll down to read about the famous race incident at the 1899 national suffrage convention here and to celebrate two early African American women activists.
Book jacket, Suffrage: Women's Long Battle for the Vote , Ellen Dubois
In elegant prose, DuBois complicates popular, but overly simple, truisms about the suffrage movement that was carried forward by at least three generations of American women; and she illustrates how their “seventy-five-year marathon through the very core of American history” encountered “massive political, social, and economic changes in American life.” Full voting rights as imagined by nineteenth-century suffrage pioneers differed substantially from the vision of thousands of American women stepping onto a modern, global stage in the early twentieth century.

DuBois is aware that the composition of a national history relies on and is tested by “local case studies,” such as those researched by the Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council. Read DuBois! And get the local angle by checking out three historical timelines on Grand Rapids suffrage history at the top of our new digital suffrage exhibit .
During the 1890s, the National American Woman Suffrage Association descended into a period of torpor. The middle-class movement was depleted after fifty years of effort with little to show, at the same time the nation had lost the energy of the Reconstruction Era and allowed repressive segregation policies of Jim Crow to proliferate. 
N.A.W.S.A convention, St. Cecilia Auditorium
Still, there were dramatic moments—some provided by the heyday of the Grand Rapids suffrage movement during this decade. Clad in dusky rose, state and local leader Emily Burton Ketcham lobbied in Lansing and colorfully described how she would like to handle suffrage opponents in the legislature. And, at the national conference here in 1899 , the race conflict within the country and the movement came to the fore with the lone African American delegate to the convention, Lottie Wilson Jackson.
Lottie Wilson Jackson
Representing the National Association of Colored Women at the 1899 NAWSA conference in Grand Rapids, Wilson Jackson proposed a resolution that would affect the ability of African American suffragists to travel freely in the South and work for the movement. It was tabled, but she became a popular interview subject in the newspapers and made a mark there. Read more in our vignette about her effort and how southern railroad history in the Jim Crow South intersected suffrage history. 

Born in 1854, Wilson Jackson was an activist who merged art and politics to bring awareness to the civil rights struggle for African Americans and for women through both the NACW and NAWSA. The day after the conference in Grand Rapids closed, she represented her Bay View, Michigan, suffrage chapter at the state meeting. After 1899, she headed up art projects for the NACW.
Women’s History Wednesdays!
Beginning in 1894, two years before the National Association of Colored Women organized and fifteen years before the NAACP, the small community of African American women in Grand Rapids entered the women’s club movement. Among the founders of the Married Ladies Nineteenth Century Club in 1894 was Mary Roberts Tate.
Tate was a local beautician, business owner, and activist speaker on both the local and national levels. In the 1890s her women’s club lambasted the Grand Rapids Press for printing an erroneous and defaming editorial from a North Carolina newspaper, and in 1907 Tate charged the American North with passivity in the face of increasing oppression in the South. In March 1906, following the death of Susan B. Anthony, Tate represented her club and community at a memorial tribute at the prestigious Grand Rapids Ladies Literary Club. Read more in Sophia Brewer’s feature for Women’s Lifestyle Magazine!
GGRWHC’s program year honoring the 19th Amendment centennial has been interrupted by the coronavirus outbreak. We regret especially the loss of the August 26th celebration, but please stay tuned. And, for now, please stay home and stay safe. Celebrate with the Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council virtually and in print!

Watch for Women’s History Wednesdays via this electronic newsletter, follow us on Facebook, watch for our monthly features in Women’s Lifestyle Magazine , and click here to receive our hard-copy newsletter and become a supporting member of GGRWHC!
Stay home and stay safe--but celebrate with us virtually and in print! 
GGRWHC |   | 616-574-7307
Hats off to the historical women who have shaped West Michigan!
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