May 6 , 2020 I  I 616-574-7307
Celebrating the Legacy of  Grand Rapids  Women
“I feel more deeply connected to my community by knowing more about its women. I sit up taller. It’s indescribable to feel proud of a woman who lived one hundred years ago, an impact that is hard to explain.”  Elyse Wild, editor of  Women’s Lifestyle Magazine 
Elyse Wild, editor of Women's Lifestyle Magazine
We offer profound thanks to Elyse Wild for mothering along local women’s history when the Greater Grand Rapids Women's History Council offers it to the world. After two years of feature articles, now beautifully illustrated by GGRWHC’s Libby VanderPloeg,  Women’s Lifestyle Magazine has launched monthly podcast features to enhance what we can cover in a 500-word essay .   Listen in!
Inspired Voices Podcast: Minnie Cumnock Blodgett
And read more about Grand Rapids pioneer nursing advocate Minnie Cumnock Blodgett, inspiration for the new podcast. During the early 20th century, she responded to the looming health crisis during World War I by overseeing an experiment that trained nurses more efficiently and effectively at the same it modeled how the nursing profession could establish standards nationwide for “registered” nurses. Three Grand Rapids nursing programs partnered with the Junior College (now GRCC) in an educational experiment to help create nurses training as we know it today.
  National Nurses Week, May 6th -12th
Virtual hugs to all nurses, prominent among today’s essential workers! The backbone of medical care and numbering 3,000,000, nurses make up the highest percentage of the US healthcare workforce; but they are often perceived as a behind-the-scenes profession.
Let’s get them onto center stage today! National Nurses Week begins on May 6th and ends on the 12th, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, who paved the way for modern nursing during the Crimean War. Are you seeing a theme here linking nursing and wartime? Nightingale trained American Clara Barton, who was a hospital nurse during the American Civil War and who founded the American Red Cross.
Wartime has often highlighted the importance of women in their societies, and it’s no accident that the professionalization of nursing took a major step ahead during WWI. (See the podcast above and Julia Bouwkamp’s feature on Minnie Cumnock Blodgett for  Women’s Lifestyle Magazine  in April.)
Fortunately, the National Women’s History Museum has provided us a comprehensive timeline of nursing history , which can set the Grand Rapids nursing history we’ve discussed today in its broader context.
Thank a nurse today!
Mother's Day 2020
To celebrate Mother’s Day in 2020, deepen your sense of the holiday by learning a little about its history. And broaden your sense by looking beyond your actual mother. Not to diminish our mothers, but the holiday has often been expanded to draw attention to mothering generally, family life, and even community life, as well. Google it to see how much has been said about this holiday! There are roots in European Lenten traditions and in the U.S. experience of the Civil War. Look around, but here is one story about the American holiday!  Meet Ann Jarvis, but don’t forget the flowers!
Women’s History Wednesdays!
Last March, Opera Grand Rapids honored the centennial year of the 19th Amendment, which guaranteed the voting rights of all U.S. citizens, by reminding us that lifelong abolitionist and suffragist Susan B. Anthony can be considered “the mother of us all.”
The Mother of Us All, cover image
In 1947 Gertrude Stein--yes, Gertrude Stein--wrote the opera libretto for The Mother of Us All , featuring the American suffrage fighter in the company of fanciful characters--some fictional, others not--from different periods in American history. (Check it out!)

Although the 19th Amendment was certified fifteen years after Anthony's death, she had already worked for 75 years to establish the electoral freedom of her many descendants by traveling across the nation spreading the suffrage gospel. Watch for Melissa Fox’s peek at Anthony’s history in Grand Rapids in the May issue of  Women’s Lifestyle Magazine,  as well as her   main feature on the 1899 convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association in the St. Cecilia Music Center auditorium. Suffragists from across the nation joined Anthony to overwhelm Grand Rapids between April 27th and May 4th!  

Although we cannot celebrate the centennial in person, throughout 2020 we will not forget it--and don’t forget the fabulous suffrage history resources on GGRWHC’s website, especially the digital exhibit and new resource guide! They tell the local and state stories of the march toward full voting rights!
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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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.