August 25, 2021 I I 616-574-7307
Here Lies a Suffragist
Celebrate Women’s Equality Day!
In 2021, our August 26th grave-decorating project, Here Lies a Suffragist, will once again substitute for an in-person celebration. Please help us honor representative local suffragists and women activists on the anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment, Thursday, August 26th!
Here Lies a Suffragist Homepage
In honor of the local citizens who worked to pass the voting rights amendment, this year the GGRWHC will highlight four women activists, two apiece in Fulton Street and Garfield Park cemeteries. Please scroll down for directions and brief features on the two cemetery sites and two of the four women featured this year.

NEWS FLASH! At 11:00 on August 25th,13 ON YOUR SIDE will air a short feature on the Comstock sisters at Fulton Street Cemetery. It will also be on the news throughout the day on the 26th. Then, look for a link to this feature on our Instagram and Facebook pages!

Now on to Thursday’s directions!
Votes for Women badges at gravesites
Take a look at our Here Lies a Suffragist introduction, and choose one woman (or more? or all!) to honor on Equality Day, August 26th. Make a graveside visit on the 26th, perhaps with flowers—even a single stem. The sites will be easily found—look for the gold and purple star balloons and “Votes for Women” badges. 

As a record of your visit, please take a photo—of the decorated gravesite certainly; but including you, too, if you are willing. Please post it in the comments section of our Facebook post honoring the day! (If you do not use Facebook, please send it to our email address– Don’t worry about grave clean up—we will see to it! 

Below, we feature Ethel Beverly Burgess at Garfield Park Cemetery, but have also marked the grave site of Lillian Gill. Please click on the cemetery page to read more about Gill and to find address, map, and directions.

Then from Fulton Street Cemetery,we feature here Clara Comstock Russell. Please click on the cemetery page to read more about her actual and suffragist sister Etta Comstock Boltwood. 
Ethel Beverly Burgess image and gravestone
Ethel Beverly Burgess (Section F, Lot South 72) 1878-1950
The GGRWHC met Ethel Beverly Burgess because her older sister Hattie has been honored as the first African American teacher in the 1899 Grand Rapids Public Schools. But Hattie died young, and Ethel led a long life deeply involved in her community. In 1900 we find Ethel Beverly training at Lucretia Willard Treat’s kindergarten school and think that she taught in a private kindergarten for two or three years before her marriage. Then in 1911 “Mrs. Theodore Burgess” shows up as instrumental in the founding of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church for African American worshippers and, as an officer of the Women’s Guild, a “power behind the throne.” By May 1918, Burgess had seriously engaged World War I work on the home front with the Red Cross and as a community chairwoman in food conservation and wartime gardening. By 1927, Burgess was heading a committee on the Interracial Council charged with addressing the “recreational needs of young colored people” unwelcome in organizations like the YMCA. From this position she was instrumental in establishing the Grand Rapids Urban League and convincing the Grand Rapids Welfare Union to support the new Negro Welfare Guild. And along the way, Burgess found herself toe-to-toe arguing approaches with NAACP leaders. Although she is little known—so far—Ethel Burgess played an outsized role in early programs benefitting African Americans and developing invested citizens.
Clara Comstock Russell image and gravestone
When the Michigan Equal Suffrage Association petitioned the 1908 Michigan constitutional convention to allow women’s suffrage, Grand Rapids native Clara Comstock Russell (1866-1935) began life as the late era’s greatest suffragist. She oversaw the distribution of 73 petitions to local organizations and was almost immediately drafted as MESA’s first vice-president. During the five years she held this office, Russell traveled tirelessly to every county in Michigan and in 1910 helped to reorganize a Grand Rapids suffrage organization. Serving as its president for four years, she also ran the 1912 statewide campaign for women’s suffrage from Grand Rapids at the same time she traveled the state pushing for the referendum. When in 1918 another referendum was put forward, this one successful, Russell again stepped up, although she was also serving as Kent County’s WWI chair of the Woman’s Committee of the Council of National Defense. 
Emily Burton Ketcham image and gravestone
Even if you can’t drive out to Rosedale Memorial Park west of Standale, read here about the national outpouring at the time of the death of Michigan’s great early worker Emily Burton Ketcham--and the subsequent disappearance and reappearance of her remains!

If you live in her direction, please do stop by to add to the floral tribute! There will not be a balloon here, but there will be some flowers. Check directions online—and thanks!
Please continue to celebrate with the Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council virtually and in print! Watch for us via this electronic newsletter, follow us on Facebook, find our monthly features in Women’s Lifestyle Magazine, and sign up for our hard-copy newsletter, if you haven’t already – at! Stay tuned, stay safe, and stay exercised!
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.