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



November 1, 2017

Board of Directors
Melissa Fox
Kate van Liere
Connie Ingham
Ruth VanStee
Julia Bouwkamp    
Jo Ellyn Clarey 
Michelle DeRose 
Kristin Du Mez  
Melissa Fox 
Connie Ingham 
Kyle Irwin
Mary Seeger
Ruth Stevens 
    Dunham Strand 
Julie Tabberer
Kate van Liere   
Ruth Van Stee  

Deirdre Toeller-Novak
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The Second Line of Defense:
Grand Rapids Women and the Great War
presented by
Melissa Fox
Greater Grand Rapids Women's History Council president
Thursday, November 9, 2017 
Grand Rapids Public Library, Main    
Ryerson Auditorium, 7 pm

Shortly after the United States entered World War I in April of 1917, the Council of National Defense formed the Woman's Committee of the Council of National Defense to coordinate the war effort on the homefront.  But local women's clubs in Grand Rapids had already been addressing the food, social welfare, and employment issues the country faced, so they were organized and prepared to move forward with this mandate from the federal government. Not only "club women," but diverse groups of women during this time made necessary contributions beyond their traditional gender roles.
On November 9, Melissa Fox will focus on the work of the Grand Rapids Women's Committee as it exemplified the power and success of other state and city units across the country. 
The committee promoted and supported backyard gardens, food preservation, the health of women and children, better conditions for women entering the workforce, and encouraged more than 22,000 women in this city to register as volunteers for the war effort.

For more than 10 years the Greater Grand Rapids Women's History Council has been dedicated to researching and supporting research on women during World War I. Readers will remember Diana Barrett's program on the registration cards, and more recently program panels that GGRWHC has sponsored at the Midwestern History Association conference on school gardens, farmer's markets, and Herbert Hoover's work in the  American Relief Administration.   
Fox will provide an overview of the recent research, bringing this period to life and highlighting women activists who worked in new positions during the war. Her presentation will also introduce where GGRWHC research will take us in the near future--into the Children's Year of 1918 and toward concerns about women in industry.

Melissa Fox is a librarian who had worked in the Local History and Special Collections Department of the Grand Rapids Public Library. Currently, she bridges life as a freelance writer, researcher, and homemaker with her new role as president of the Greater Grand Rapids Women's History Council. Women activists and volunteers from a hundred years ago would recognize her juggling act!  
Each year the GGRWHC cooperates with the Grand Rapids Historical Society by planning for one their regular monthly programs.    
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Celebrating 30 Years in 2018 
During 2018 the GGRWHC will celebrate thirty years of existence and register afresh how past women's experiences relate to present and to future goals. The Council's first projects included research workshops and a conference, which showed off how much had been uncovered in the early years. Soon after, city-wide celebrations called Legacy involved dozens of local organizations, representing the arts, education, health care, business, labor, and religion, to help uncover data and  highlight what had already been found.
For nearly thirty years the Council has recruited and trained researchers, encouraged donations to local archives, distributed bibliographies on area women's history, digitized materials for broader dissemination, and developed creative programming to spread information about the early accomplishments of female scientists, attorneys, journalists, even reformed courtesans. Five years ago at a quarter century, we took stock and published a brief summary history, on our website.
Keep up with us on our website!


Join us or Update your Membership!  

Not a current member of GGRWHC?   Register or renew your membership and help offset the expenses associated with annual research and programs. 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 second Wednesday of the month at 4:30 p.m. in 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 or plan to attend a meeting.



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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!