April 1 , 2020 I www.ggrwhc.org   I 616-574-7307
“Women’s Work” Is Never Done & Rarely Honored
Our homes are ground zero today, and we join journalist Jenavieve Hatch to honor the undervalued, but vital, work traditionally performed by women, whether in the workplace or at home. With “every collapse arises opportunity,” she says; “maybe there’s a chance to truly value the work that women do, and have always done, to keep everything from sinking.” Click here to read Hatch's full article, Do You Value Women's Work Yet?
The Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council has primarily honored accomplished women from the past on whose shoulders young women continue to stand as they strive to utilize their talents in the world. The surprising, and usually unknown, histories of early professional women, artists, and research scientists are inspiring and allow us to rewrite our lives and local history. (Scroll down for a peek at Grand Rapids’ first woman physician.)

Sometimes it’s even difficult to rediscover women who were well known in their own day. It’s been assumed “that history is made by men and that what’s going on in women’s lives is just a sideshow.” [Victoria Bateman in The Sex Factor ] But women publicly active can be exhumed from news accounts; even though they usually did not make into formal histories. 
But we have rarely found good ways to feature the average women keeping society clean, fed, healthy, and amused. So today, during a pandemic, we honor those women who pushed Anna Sutherland Bissell's carpet sweepers, but can offer only a general tribute—because it’s especially hard to feature women from the past whose lives were not reported in the newspapers.  
Occasionally, we have been able to highlight women factory workers, like the Berkey & Gay “girls” shown above, who were featured in a company newsletter. As always, we seek help in our endeavors; and here we pledge not to forget ordinary women as we pull into the light all local women who helped shape our community. 

Especially today, let’s ponder Jenavieve Hatch’s reminder that the coronavirus pandemic should refocus our sense of what work is essential: all forms of care work. We honor everyone performing “feminized labor”—but remember that 90% of all nurses and elderly care staff are women. 
Women’s History Wednesdays!
GGRWHC salutes the long history of women physicians in our community! Their numbers were greater in the 1890s than in the 1950s, when trails had to be blazed for a second time. Our first female physician, Frances Armstrong Rutherford, was a beneficiary of early women pioneers in the field and graduated from the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1868. Soon after, in Grand Rapids she was elected city physician, possibly the first woman in the nation to hold this post. Among Rutherford's other duties in the city of 16,000 were the responsibilities of controlling the spread of contagious diseases and attempting improvements in sanitation.  Hats off! And read more about her here:  https://womenslifestyle.com/her-legacy-3/
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 |   www.ggrwhc.org   | 616-574-7307
Hats off to the historical women who have shaped West Michigan!
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Thank you for your interest in preserving and celebrating the history of the many phenomenal women who've helped to shape West Michigan!  If you aren't already a supporter of the Greater Grand Rapids Women's History Council, consider investing in our work as a volunteer or with an annual donation .  Visit our  website  for more information and the ability to donate online.