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



February 9, 2015

GGRWHC Board of Directors

Falinda Geerling,
Ruth VanStee,
Connie Ingham
Janet Brashler 
Jennifer Bryant 
Jo Ellyn Clarey
Susan Coombes 
Sharon Hanks
Kyle Irwin
Mary Seeger
Ruth Stevens
Jill Straub
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 Join us Thursday, February 12th, to honor a remarkable Grand Rapids woman!

Roberta Griffith, Visionary
 Gordon Olson, Grand Rapids City Historian Emeritus

7 p.m. Thursday, February 12, 2015
Gerald R. Ford Museum
Reception following. Free and open to the public.

Despite having lost her sight as an infant, Roberta Griffith led an extraordinary life on national, state, and local levels.She compiled the first dictionary for the blind and worked with Helen Keller to standardize a Braille system throughout the country. Former city historian Gordon Olson will review the life and work of this extraordinary local woman, who founded Grand Rapids' Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired.


Roberta Griffith at her desk 

Born in 1870 and ten years older than Helen Keller, Roberta Griffith traed the nation with the more famous woman, seeking to improve services for the blind. Griffith had graduated from Case Western Reserve University and embarked on a career in journalism before moving to Grand Rapids, where she then began a new career as a real estate agent at the same time she developed her own version of a braille system and produced a dictionary for the blind. Never losing her determination to learn, create, and help others, Griffith founded the Association for Blind and Visually Impaired in Grand Rapids in 1913. She served as its executive secretary until her death in 1941, for almost thirty years.

Former city historian Gordon Olson will be joined by Rick Stevens, current executive director of ABVI, which celebrated its centennial anniversary in 2013. Stevens will describe Griffith's legacy to Grand Rapids, that is, the creative programs that led to today's ABVI services.  

This program is co-sponsored by the GGRWHC, Grand Rapids Historical Society, and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.

 Visit our web site for more information.                 
for Taste of Soul and more women's history!

Growing up in Auburn Hills          

1:30 p.m. Sunday, February 15, 2015
Grand Rapids Public Library
Lower Level, Computer Training Center

Sponsored by the Greater Grand Rapids Women's History Council, local community leaders Beverly Grant and Ellen James will reflect on their experiences growing up in the Auburn Hills neighborhood of Grand Rapids. Auburn Hills was developed on the Northeast side of Grand Rapids in the 1960s by black community leaders who persisted in developing the subdivision in spite of segregation, institutional racism, and strong opposition from neighbors and other community leaders.

Grant and James will be joined by Jennifer Metz of Past Perfect, Inc. and Mary Edmond, a retired educator who began teaching in the Grand Rapids Public Schools in the 1960s. This program will also feature short clips from "Auburn Hills - History of Racial Equity in Grand Rapids" by Jeremy Moore, Joel VanKuiken, Kyle Lim and Denise Evans.

The Auburn Hills Neighborhood: Race and Grand Rapids from Past to Present

3:30 p.m. Sunday, February 15, 2015
Grand Rapids Public Library
Lower Level, Computer Training Center

Jeremy Moore and Kyle Lim will show fuller video clips from their interviews with Auburn Hills residents, recorded as part of their ongoing "Auburn Hills - History of Racial Equity in Grand Rapids" series to be featured in The Rapidian. These clips will be used as a launching point for a panel discussion of racial equity in present day Grand Rapids, with panelists Darel Ross of LINC, Paula Triplett of Auburn Hills, Sonya Hughes of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, and Denise Evans from Strong Beginnings.

Sponsored by the Greater Grand Rapids Racial Equity Network and LINC Community Revitalization.

For more details, visit our  web site


At its annual reception, GGGRWHC will welcome GVSU historian Carolyn Shapiro-Shapin, Editor of Mlive/Grand Rapids Press Julie Hoogland, and Medical Reporter Sue Thoms to help us celebrate the life work of Grand Rapids women Pearl Kendrick and Grace Eldering, two scientists who developed one of the first, and best, vaccines against whooping cough, which in the 1930s killed 6,000 American children annually. With dedicated laboratory help from chemist Loney Clinton Gordon, they later refined their vaccine and shared it with the world.
In 1930s Pearl Kendrick was co-discoverer of whooping cough vaccination.

5 p.m. - 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 18, 2015 
5 p.m.: Complimentary hors d'oeuvres & wine ticket bar ($5/glass)
5:30 p.m.: Brief annual report and elections followed by celebratory program

Women's City Club, lower level auditorium, 254 E. Fulton St.
Free parking is available on south side of the building or in lot across Lafayette Ave.

Free and open to the public. Please let us know you're coming at mailto:[email protected], [email protected], or 616-574-7307. 

New and renewing members will be offered a free glass of wine! If you have not yet renewed your support of GGRWHC for 2015 or joined as a brand-new member click here for membership registration under Highlighted Links!

For more details about our March 18 program, check out these links:





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 first Tuesday of the month at 5:30 p.m. 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 or plan to attend a meeting.



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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!