Move over, black ties: The Grand Rapids Public Library Foundation is digging into the library's storied archives and hosting a white glove event.
Treasures of Your Library: A White Glove Event, taking place April 18, 2018, from 5 – 7 p.m., will celebrate Grand Rapids women of the past, present and future.
"Our collections manager has done a little digging and found that Grand Rapids has a history of women doing cool things and making a mark on this city that we're enjoying today," said Kate Avery, Grand Rapids Public Library Foundation Board Member.
"We collect and preserve the cultural history of Grand Rapids, caring for archives that everyone can use," said Julie Tabberer, head of Grand Rapids History & Special Collections. "In that history, the story of women is often hidden and not told, so we have to work harder to tell their story."
For one evening, the Grand Rapids Library is going behind the scenes to areas not usually seen by the public eye. Named for the iconic white cotton gloves worn when handling and examining archival material, the event will offer library patrons a tour of the library's archives and a look at Grand Rapids' unique photos, documents and other memorabilia.
"It's really fun for us to put together this event because we get to uncover new material in our collections," Tabberer said. "It's thrilling to make those discoveries, to hold something in your hands that no has seen before or realized how important it is."
While many of the items are too delicate to handle, the event will offer a close-up look at archival materials including documents telling the story of Helen Claytor, a civil rights activist and first black president of the YWCA; photographs and memorabilia from the Grand Rapids Chicks professional women's baseball team; and the original research journal and photos of Dr. Pear Kendrick, Dr. Grace Eldering and Loney Clinton Gordon, who developed the whooping cough vaccine.
"The most exciting moment for me was paging through a research journal that Dr. Kendrick kept in the 1930s, knowing that she also held it in her hands and picturing her using it in the laboratory, working to improve thousands of lives," Taberrer said.
At the main Grand Rapids Public Library downtown, the event will feature pop-up exhibits of new discoveries from the archives; experts will be on hand to share stories about the women honored. Craft beer, cider, wine and appetizers will be served. Among the silent auction items for bid are a private Brewery Vivant Taste and Tour, an overnight package for two at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, and a West Michigan Whitecaps tickets package.
Tickets for the event are $75, with proceeds supporting Grand Rapids Public Library programming.
"For me, the library is an epicenter of community where all are welcome and able to access resources, whether it's a historical collection because you want to know where your city has come from or the technology to create a resume," Avery said.
"You could look at it as something old, but really it's thriving."
Learn more about Treasures of Your Library: A White Glove Event and purchase tickets here.
Written by Cassie Westrate, staff writer for West Michigan Woman.
Photo Courtesy of Grand Rapids Public Library.