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Notice of Public Meeting: Kalamazoo Public Library Board of Trustees | April 15th| 5 pm | Central Library/Board Room. The packet of information for the meeting can be found on the library’s website

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...

Blankenburg, Frieda

“Mrs. Blankenburg is widely known in Kalamazoo and Michigan for her patriotic, social and civic activities and club affiliations. She has been keenly interested in historical research, particularly as it…

Brown, Olympia

In 1999, the pioneering life of Olympia Brown, a native of Prairie Ronde Township, was added to the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame, making her only the fifth woman from…

Burchnall, Dorothy

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.

Chaffee, Ada Gilmore

Ada Gilmore Chaffee (Find a Grave) Despite living most of her life outside of Kalamazoo, the Kalamazoo-born artist Ada Gilmore Chaffee was a leading pioneer as a painter and woodblock…

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...

Ham, Caroline

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…

Henshaw, Luna "Lou"

Kalamazoo Valley Museum, 2006.39.3 Luna “Lou” Henshaw (later Zwisler) holds the distinction of being the first woman elected to sit on the Kalamazoo City Commission. On 14 November 1921, Henshaw…

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...

Johnson, Pauline Byrd

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…

Kalamazoo Corset Company

At the turn of the 20th century, when respectable women risked their health by squeezing themselves into tight corsets in pursuit of a fashionable silhouette, the Kalamazoo Corset Company was the largest employer in the city...

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...

Las Amigas Club

Mrs. Robert Woodford, Glenn Allen, Mrs. Albert Allen model clothes as part of a fashion show with proceeds going to the Las Amigas Club, Kalamazoo Gazette, 6-15-1975 Social clubs have…

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...

Minott, Margaret

Margaret Minott was the first African American elected to the Kalamazoo Board of Education. She was instrumental in the effort to desegregate Kalamazoo Public Schools and it was through her efforts that the Oshtemo Branch Library came to be.

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.

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