August 24, 2020 I I 616-574-7307
 Here Lies a Suffragist
Celebrate the Centennial Socially but Safely!
Our August 26th grave-decorating project, Here Lies a Suffragist, will substitute for our original in-person celebration. Please help us honor representative local suffragists on the centennial date of the Nineteenth Amendment, Wednesday, August 26th, 2020! Please scroll down for directions and brief features on the three cemetery sites. 
Here Lies a Suffragist Homepage
State and local suffrage organizations were as critical to winning the vote as the national organizations, but the countless women and men who populated them have mostly remained anonymous. In honor of the local citizens who worked to pass the voting rights amendment, the GGRWHC has selected a dozen suffragist graves in Fulton Street and Oakhill South cemeteries for recognition. Scroll to the bottom here for a special virtual tour about early Grand Rapids leader Emily Burton Ketcham at Rosedale Memorial Park.

And mark your calendars for Wednesday’s 7:00 pm newscast feature about suffragist and senator Eva McCall Hamilton on WOOD TV! Hamilton ran for state senate in 1920—the first election in which she was allowed--and won! For 98 years, until current Senator Winnie Brinks won her seat, she remained the first and last female senator representing Grand Rapids. 

Now on to Wednesday’s directions!

Votes for Women badges at gravesites
Here’s the plan! First, read through our Here Lies a Suffragist tour guides, and choose one woman (or more? or all!) to honor on Equality Day, August 26th. Make a graveside visit on the 26th, perhaps with flowers—even a single stem. The sites will be easily found—look for the purple star balloons and “Votes for Women” badges.
As a record of your visit, please take a photo—of the decorated gravesite certainly; but including you, too, if you are willing. Please post it in the comments section of our Facebook post honoring the day! (If you do not use Facebook, please send it to our email address– Don’t worry about grave clean up—we will see to it! 

Emma Ford image and gravestone
An African American woman born in Windsor, Ontario, Emma Ford (1860-1937) was for over fifty years a Grand Rapids community leader. Both she and her husband, Joseph C. Ford, had significant influence in the city, in the state capital, and throughout Michigan. Emma founded and was active in local African American women’s clubs that in 1907 hosted the statewide convention of the State Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs in Grand Rapids. She was president of the Married Ladies Nineteenth Century Club when, in 1898, it lambasted the Grand Rapids Press for a racist editorial during the Jim Crow era. Ford led the Thurman Union, an African American branch of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, and often addressed interracial Kent County meetings of all local unions. Both Emma and Joseph were active in their African Methodist Episcopal church and in the local chapter of the NAACP. Under his leadership, in 1899 a local men’s group directly supported a resolution in favor of women’s suffrage.

Clara Comstock Russell image and gravestone
When the Michigan Equal Suffrage Association petitioned the 1908 Michigan constitutional convention to allow women’s suffrage, Grand Rapids native Clara Comstock Russell (1866-1935) began life as the late era’s greatest suffragist. She oversaw the distribution of 73 petitions to local organizations and was almost immediately drafted as MESA’s first vice-president. During the five years she held this office, Russell traveled tirelessly to every county in Michigan and in 1910 helped to reorganize a Grand Rapids suffrage organization. Serving as its president for four years, she also ran the 1912 statewide campaign for women’s suffrage from Grand Rapids at the same time she traveled the state pushing for the referendum. When in 1918 another referendum was put forward, this one successful, Russell again stepped up, although she was also serving as Kent County’s WWI chair of the Woman’s Committee of the Council of National Defense. 

Emily Burton Ketcham image and gravestone
Even if you can’t drive out to Rosedale Memorial Park west of Standale, read here about the national outpouring at the time of the death of Michigan’s great early worker Emily Burton Ketcham--and the subsequent disappearance and reappearance of her remains!

If you live in her direction, please do stop by to add to the floral tribute! There will not be a balloon here, but there will be some flowers. Check directions online—and thanks!
Please continue to celebrate with the Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council virtually and in print! Watch for us via this electronic newsletter, follow us on Facebook, find our monthly features in Women’s Lifestyle Magazine, and sign up for our hard-copy newsletter, if you haven’t already – at! Stay tuned, stay safe, and stay exercised!
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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