Annual Local History Roundtable

11th Annual Local History Roundtable

In light of COVID-19, the 11th Annual Local History Roundtable is canceled. To learn more about GVSU's response to COVID-19, please visit:





The Kutsche Office of Local History is recognizing the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment at our 11th Annual Local History Roundtable. Join us for a day examining the histories of women’s historical and contemporary efforts to transform their communities. There are morning and afternoon sessions, and participants are welcome to attend sessions as their schedule allows.


8:30-9:15 am - Check in and Registration

9:15-9:30 am - Welcome

9:30-9:45 am - Presentation of Gordon Olson Award


10:00-11:15 am - Contemporary Changemakers: "Connecting Our Stories, Connecting Our Power, Connecting Through Food and Culture" with Co2 Storytelling

Imagine a community where the wisdom and perspectives of all intermingled. We will focus on the foundation of community by rooting ourselves in relationships, stories, healing, culture and sharing the stories of food.


11:30 am-12:30 pm - Digital History Projects: "Taking Center Stage: Women's Suffrage in Grand Rapids" with Julia Bouwkamp (Greater Grand Rapids Women's History Council)

The outline of the national suffrage story is well known - but the national story is not the whole story, and local movements were critical. To celebrate the contributions of Grand Rapids suffragists and to mark the centennial of the 19th Amendment's certification, the Greater Grand Rapids Women's History Council is excited to share its new digital history exhibit, "Taking Center Stage: Women's Suffrage in Grand Rapids." Join the exhibit's curator, Julia Bouwkamp, as she shares the stories of local women changemakers and speaks about the process of creating a digital history exhibit. 


12:30-1:15 pm - Lunch


1:15-2:15 pm - Keynote Presentation: "It Took a Family: Domestic Roles and the Civic Engagement of Alde Blake" with Alde Blake descendants Moana Kutsche & Robert McArdle, along with Jo Ellyn Clarey (Greater Grand Rapids Women's History Council)

Alde Louise Tuck Blake's civic life in early-twentieth-century Grand Rapids offers a history of how unenfranchised women functioned as American citizens. An educated woman born in 1857, Blake came of age as women’s clubs and reform movements blossomed and invited her onto a public stage to share her talents. But Blake was not a solo act. As her grandson Paul Kutsche’s 2006 paper “The Backstory of Forward Women” demonstrates, Blake’s supportive family made negotiations and sacrifices to enable her achievements. Today, two great-grandchildren continue the work of honoring their entire “suffrage family.”


2:30-3:30 pm - Roundtable Discussion: Lesser Known Women in West Michigan History with David M. McCord (Ionia County Historical Society), Annoesjka Soler (Lakeshore Museum Center), and Kristen Wildes (Ada Historical Society).

This roundtable highlights women whose accomplishments might not be known outside of their communities, yet, these women impacted an untold number of people as a result of their work in various industries. Recognizing their efforts reflects a commitment to preserve the stories of everyday Michiganders.

Local History Roundtable

Past Roundtables

  • 2019 (Connections Along the Grand River) Held at GVSU's L. William Seidman Center; featured speakers included: Jan Brashler (GVSU) and the following local history organizations and historians—Ada Historical Society, Allendale Historical Society, Boston/Saranac Historical Society, Cascade Historical Society, Grand Rapids City Archives, Eastmanville History, Grand Rapids Historical Society, Grand Rapids Public Museum, Grand Rapids Public Library, Grandville Historical Commission, Ionia County Historical Society, Jenison Historical Association, Lamont History, LGROW, Lowell Area Historical Museum, Ottawa County Parks and Recreation, Plainfield Historical, Portland Area Historical Society, Tri-Cities Historical Museum, Wallace and Jane Ewing, and Paul Trap
  • 2018 (Returning to our Roots: Explorations of Western Michigan's Diverse Communities) Held at GVSU's Kirkhof Center; featured speakers included: Ronald J. Stephens of Purdue University, Kathryn Remlinger (GVSU), and Andrea Riley-Mukavetz (GVSU)
  • 2017 ("Reconstructing Home"): Held at GVSU's Mary Idema Pew Library and Information Commons; featured speakers included Professor Bich (Beth) Minh Nguyen (author of Stealing Buddha's Dinner), Julie Tabberer, Head of the Local History Department and Special Collections at Grand Rapids Public Library, and Nathan Nietering of Saugatuck-Douglas History Center. 
  • 2016 ("Changing Communities"): Held at GVSU's Mary Idema Pew Library and Information Commons; featured speakers included Todd Robinson (author of City Within a City), Tim Gleisner (now of Herrick District Library), and Delia Fernandez (Michigan State University)
  • 2015 ("Food, Farm, and Table"): Held at the Grand Rapids Public Library, featured speakers included Hank Meijer (Meijer, Inc.) and Ellen Messer (Tufts University).
  • 2014 ("Immigration and Civil Rights"): Held at the Holland Museum, featured speakers included Bing Goei (State of Michigan) and Nora Salas (GVSU)
  • 2013 ("Natives, Settlers, and Founders: Our Shared Community History"): Held at the Grand Haven Community Center, featured speakers included Eric Hemenway (LTBB), Wallace Ewing, and Marjie Viveen
  • 2012 ("Transportation and Waterways"): Held at the Annis Water Institute in Muskegon, featured speakers included Kevin Finney (Jijak Foundation), Carl Bajema (GVSU), Daniel Yakes (MCC), Christine Byron (GRPL), and Tom Wilson
  • 2011 ("Meaning of the 150th Civil War Commemoration"): Held on GVSU's Allendale campus
  • 2010 (General meeting): Held on GVSU's Allendale campus