‘History Detectives’ Shares the Scoop on Kindergarten and ‘Radical’ Women in 1890s Grand Rapids on Jan. 23

GRPL History SleuthWho knew Kindergarten has a history? Revolutionary German methods for teaching young children were adopted in Grand Rapids when members of the Ladies Literary Club (LLC) founded a Kindergarten Training School in 1894. The Froebel Foundation’s Scott Bultman will use his vast collection of photographs and documents to report on how LLC women lured the country’s best teacher here from Chicago and how the daughter of Grand Rapids’ first architect devoted her life to the movement.


Kindergarten became both a calling and a career opportunity for local women from varied socio-economic levels and racial backgrounds. Built by dedicated women reformers and philanthropists nationwide, the movement spawned settlement houses and the YWCA, as well as temperance and suffrage initiatives. Grand Rapids’ fascinating story will illustrate the overall national history.

History Detectives will be held from 9:30 am-4 pm. “Kindergarten and ‘Radical’ Women in 1890s Grand Rapids” by Scott Bultman kicks off the day at 9:30 am. Sponsored by the Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council, this event is FREE.

Other session topics include:Kindergarten Assoc.

  • Kindergarten and “Radical” Women in 1890s Grand Rapids
  • When “Everyone Knew Everyone”: Forming a Latino Community in Mid-Century West Michigan
  • Retail Icons: Shopping Downtown in 1950s Grand Rapids
  • New-Car Smell: Nostalgia and the Story of Grand Rapids Car Dealerships
  • Modern Design Leader: The Story Behind Herman Miller
  • The Intoxicating History of River City Brewing


Each session will last 45 minutes and will be presented by a local author or historian. From 4:30-6 pm participants are invited to an after-party at Mitten Brewing Company to talk about the day over a beer or two.


*Limited Seating – Space is limited and seating is offered first come, first served. There will be an overflow room available with a simulcast video presentation. History Detectives will be held from 9:30 am-4 pm on Saturday, January 23 in the Ryerson Auditorium at the Grand Rapids Public Library, 111 Library St. NE. The program is free and open to the public. For more information, call 616.988.5400 or visit our website at www.grpl.org. The Grand Rapids Public Library connects people to the transforming power of knowledge. Click here for a brochure.


Partnering organizations for the day include the Grand Rapids Historical Society, the Grand Rapids Historical Commission, the Western Michigan Genealogical Society, the Grand Rapids Public Museum, the Kutsche Office of Local History at GVSU and the Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council. A box lunch is available for $10 and must be ordered in advance by calling 616.988.5492 or by emailing rsvp@grpl.org.