Clarey & Tabberer – Bringing Female Ancestors to Life with Archival Resources

March 4th, 2018 by National Genealogical Society Blog Editor

LECTURE TITLE: 100 Years Later: Bringing Your Female Ancestors to Life with Archival Resources


DATE & TIME: Saturday, 05 May 2018, 2:30 p.m.

SPONSOR: Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council

About the Lecture:

Jo Ellyn Clarey and Julie Tabberer will present a session featuring unique collections at the Grand Rapids Public Library and the unique ambitions of the Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council. 100 Years Later: Bringing Your Female Ancestors to Life with Archival Resources will focus on the building of and identification of unusual archival resources.

This lecture will highlight materials long available but unused when researching women (century-old furniture factory newsletters) as well as materials recently sought out and donated (individual’s suffrage scrapbooks) or purposefully created (the city’s women’s entire elective history; data on nineteenth-century African American women’s clubs). Librarian Julie Tabberer will illustrate how to think beyond the usual records and to identify sources with unexpected information. Women’s historian Jo Ellyn Clarey will discuss how disparate data uncovered by genealogists and historians can be collected and shaped for easier access and analysis.

The jewel in the crown of Grand Rapids women’s history collections is a brand-new database featuring likely the most detailed census of American women ever made–and its source material was collected exactly a century ago on the site of the 2018 NGS conference. Few are aware that during World War I over 4,000,000 American women registered for war service under the Woman’s Committee of the Council for National Defense. A thousand registrars in Grand Rapids alone collected well over 100 fields of data for 23,000 women, half the city’s female adult population. Its cards have been miraculously saved, rediscovered, digitized, and their data is now ready for research. It is not the least of this session’s goals to encourage audience to locate more card collections and search out contextual materials in correspondence, minutes, and newspaper articles. Individual names are scattered throughout all and genealogical clues in the materials often point toward other sources.

Anyone seeking information about American women of the past will benefit from this session. It hopes to inspire audience members to return home and locate women’s-history-in-hiding and to generate new historical and genealogical resources. The GGRWHC will participate in Society Night on May 2nd, and the local presenters will be available for follow-up conversations with conferees.

ABOUT: Julie Tabberer, MLIS, is head of the History and Special Collections department at the Grand Rapids Public Library, and she has worked with the archives of Davenport University, Steelcase, and Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. She has also served for three years on the board of the Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council.

Jo Ellyn Clarey is by profession a literary scholar and a long-time women’s historian working with the Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council. She has served on the boards of other Grand Rapids historical organizations and acted as liaison to the Michigan Women’s Studies Association, whose statewide conference she has chaired.

Julie Tabberer, MLIS

Jo-Ellyn Clarey, Historian