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Women’s History

Austin, Marilyn “Mamie”

There are many times when people never get a chance to see the impact of their work. Kalamazoo photographer Mamie Austin is one of those individuals. Her images taken for the Kalamazoo Public Library’s Art Department in the late 1930s and early...

Caroline Ham

First elected to the Kalamazoo City Commission in 1975, Caroline Ham has the distinction of being the city’s first woman Mayor, having beat out several other candidates in 1981 in…

Crane, Caroline Bartlett

One of the most interesting and productive careers ever to unfold in Kalamazoo began with an unusual childhood. Caroline Bartlett was born in Hudson, Wisconsin, in 1858 to Lorenzo and Julia Bartlett. Her father was owner and captain of a small...

Dorothy Burchnall

The earliest brewers in Bronson (Kalamazoo) Village were of the do-it-yourself variety and many of them were women. As society would have it, her husband’s name was on the label, but the operation was clearly under Dorothy Burchnall’s command.

Hull, Blanche

Most Kalamazooans remember Blanche Hull as the donor of the Hull Preserve adjacent to Milham Park, but that gift was only the last act in a long life as a civic and cultural leader. She came by her leadership qualities honestly...

Kalamazoo Corset Company

The Kalamazoo Corset Company began life in Three Oaks, Michigan, as the Featherbone Corset Company. In 1891, company president James H. Hatfield moved the company to Kalamazoo and soon renamed his business. The factory was located in a four-story...

Kalamazoo Lassies

In the early years of the 1950’s baseball was booming in Kalamazoo. On any given summer night, teams from local businesses, groups of school kids, or professional barnstorming teams would be swinging their bats and hoping for home runs at parks...

Ladies' Library Association

The Kalamazoo Ladies' Library Association was the first woman’s club organized in Michigan and the third in the nation. Members held meetings in various places around the village between 1852 and 1879, when local builder Fred Bush completed...

Luna "Lou" Henshaw

Luna “Lou” Henshaw (later Zwisler) holds the distinction of being the first woman elected to sit on the Kalamazoo City Commission. On November 14th, 1921, Henshaw took office alongside Cornelius…

Michigan Female Seminary

The Michigan Female Seminary was established in 1856 under the auspices of the Presbyterian Synod of Michigan. Located on a 31 acre bluff overlooking Gull Road and what is now Riverview Drive, the Seminary stood as a landmark in the city for more...

Pauline Byrd Johnson

Pauline Byrd Johnson was many things: an outspoken critic of forced desegregation policies, an active member of the Kalamazoo Republican Party, a tireless advocate for the value of education, and…

Roberts, Flora

When Flora B. Roberts began her twenty-four year career as chief librarian of the Kalamazoo Public Library in February 1918, she found the library in complete disarray. Her initial lofty goals were to re-catalog the entire 50,000 volume collection...

Spear, Marion R.

In the early years of the last century, a new approach to the treatment of mental and physical illnesses unfolded.

Stone, Lucinda Hinsdale

The mid and late 1800’s were a transformative time in American history in many ways. Traditional American values were limiting to women who wanted opportunities to expand their horizons. However, there were crusading activists who attempted to...

Tyson, Grace

From the final decades of the nineteenth century into the midst of the “roaring twenties,” Grace Tyson, a child actress from Kalamazoo, was to become one of the most popular and respected worldwide stage and vaudeville stars of her time.

Women Cabinetmakers

This interesting paragraph from a letter written by Lucinda Hinsdale Stone points out that pioneer women were often skilled in furnishing their homes.

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