With the college basketball tournament known as March Madness in full swing, I noticed teams from Michigan in the playoffs and decided to write about Great Lake State Women – women with ties to the state of Michigan – all of whom have been inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame. Match the woman with her accomplishment:
____ 1. Ranked the greatest singer of all time, she is known as the “Queen of Soul.”
____ 2. The first female CEO in the U.S., she grew her company’s business of carpet sweepers internationally, putting in place progressive labor practices significantly before the rest of Corporate America.
____ 3. The first female minister in the history of the Methodist Church, she was a leader in the suffrage movement.
____ 4. A leader in the effort to make the workplace safer, she is today called the Mother of Industrial Health.
____ 5. The first American woman to earn a pilot’s license.
A. Anna Howard Shaw
B. Alice Hamilton
C. Anna Bissell
D. Harriet Quimby
E. Aretha Franklin
Born in England and having emigrated with her family to the U.S. at age four, Anna Howard Shaw moved north of Big Rapids, Michigan with her family in 1859. She attended Albion College and then matriculated at the School of Theology at Boston University, where she was the only woman in a class with 42 men. After becoming the first fully ordained woman minister in the history of the Methodist Church, Shaw then pursued her medical degree and graduated in 1855. Her work in the temperance movement led to a long association with Susan B. Anthony and leadership in the women’s suffrage movement during the years 1904-1915. She lectured worldwide in support of women’s rights. The first woman to receive the Distinguished Service Award (presented by President Woodrow Wilson), Shaw has been inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
A pioneer in the field of industrial health and welfare, Alice Hamilton graduated from the University of Michigan with her medical degree in 1893. While living and working at Hull House in Chicago, she met many industrial workers and learned about the health hazards that they faced on the job. She published some of the first articles on industrial health and became an expert in lead poisoning and industrial diseases. Today, called the Mother of Industrial Health, she became the first female faculty member at Harvard University’s Medical School and School of Public Health. She published the first American textbook on industrial toxins. Her work is credited with leading to many workplace innovations including worker’s compensation laws, workplace hazard and safety laws, and better workplace conditions. Hamilton has been inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
In 1899, upon the death of her husband, Anna Bissell became the first female CEO in the U.S. Melville Bissell had invented a special carpet sweeper in 1876 to clean sawdust off the carpet on the floor of their crockery shop in Grand Rapids, Michigan. A full partner with her husband, after his death, she moved the company into the international market. She also introduced progressive labor policies, long before these became standard across Corporate America. A generous philanthropist, Bissell was active in women’s organizations and was for a long time the only female member of the National Hardware Men’s Association. The company whose survival she ensured still sells products today.
The first American woman to earn a pilot’s license (1911) and the first woman to fly across the English Channel (1912), Harriet Quimby won her first cross-country race just a month after receiving her pilot’s license. She wore a distinctive purple aviator uniform which caught the public’s attention and she chronicled her adventures for public consumption. An unfortunate accident in 1912 cut her life short. Quimby, who was born in Michigan, has been featured on a U.S. postage stamp and inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame.
The “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin grew up in Detroit, Michigan. There she began singing gospel in her father’s church. In 1961, she went under contract with Columbia Records but it was after she went with Atlantic Records in 1967 that her hits and fame occurred. The most charted female artist in history, Franklin has won 20 Grammy awards including Lifetime Achievement. The first female inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Franklin is listed by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the 100 Greatest Artists of all Time and the #1 Greatest Singer of All Time (out of their 100).
Learn about more she-roes and celebrate amazing women. All of these Great Lake State women are among the more than 850 women profiled in the book Her Story: A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America. I am proud to tell women’s stories and to write them back into history.
(Answers 1-E, 2-C, 3-A, 4-B, 5-D)