CASPIAN—The study committee of the Iron County Museum for the project on activities and contributions of women to the growth of Iron County has announced that the resulting book, “Women of Iron County, Michigan–1882-2013,” is now available for sale at the museum’s gift shop and will soon be available at museums in other locations as well as shops in the county.
The book lists over 500 Iron County women and presents an interesting change in the role of women over the years. It begins with early activities of housekeeping and rearing families that may have numbered over 15 members, but also reached out to assist their spouses in homesteading by working the field, caring for the animals and harvesting. Rarely did women speak out except for Civil War nurse Ann Patterson, who defended her property ownership in court and assisted others in the Canal suit of the 1880s.
Women were especially active in mining locations, where they ran boarding houses and operated kitchens to feed the early miners who had not yet brought their families from Europe. They also assisted their husbands in their businesses.
As for professions, the major ones were teaching and nursing. Female teachers who married, however, were dismissed from their positions as late as the 1930s.
Michigan State College (now University) started early classes for women when the first county agent in the Upper Peninsula was assigned to Iron County in 1912. This brought a big change to women’s activities as they began to organize their own extension clubs and also started to lead 4-H clubs for youth, help both Boy and Girl Scouts and head committees and teach classes in churches for youngsters.
The earliest public office held by a woman was in about 1901. She succeeded her husband because she had helped him and was knowledgeable. Secretaries became a necessity and provided an early career.
Professions were slow in growing. The first woman physician came in the 1940s. The first female minister came about the same time. Today many professions have been added.
One will need to read the book to discover the identity of the 500 women. They are but a sample, and the committee realized there were many more names that could have been listed. Also, some women refused to be listed. Listed or not, tribute is paid to the women of Iron County for their many contributions to the people and the development of Iron County itself.
“Women of Iron County, Michigan--1882-2013” is priced at $30 per copy (plus tax). Mail orders are $36 (includes tax and shipping). Visa and MasterCard are accepted for phone (265-2617) or email (email@example.com) orders.
Committee members who served were: Co-Chairs Gloria Frederickson and Marcia Bernhardt (also editor), Patricia Dishaw, Carolyn Dunlap, Carol Erickson, Betsy Hagberg, Helen Hord, Ruth Lopez and Beverly Weslin.