2023 Speakers

Kayne Ferrier | The Beginnings of Sewage Treatment in Grand Rapids

Kayne Ferrier is a former Grand Rapids Public Librarian/Branch Manager. She retired in 2011, but currently works part-time as a research librarian for the engineering department of the City of Grand Rapids Water Resource Recovery Facility, a.k.a. the sewage treatment plant. She has been with that department since 2017.

Adam Oster | Sanborn Maps of Grand Rapids

Adam Oster is the Community Engagement Librarian for the Library of Michigan. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from Grand Valley State University with a minor in Political Science and Secondary Education Certification. He also has a Master of Library Science degree from Indiana University. Adam’s interests include genealogy and local history research.

Nora Salas | 50 Years Later: A Look Back at the Fight Over the ERA in Grand Rapids

Dr. Nora Salas is an Associate Professor of History at Grand Valley State University and the Director of the Kutsche Office of Local History. Her directorship of the Kutsche Office is a continuation of her commitment to helping diverse communities claim their place in West Michigan’s history. Professor Salas regularly teaches about U.S. Women’s History and has lectured locally about the significance of the women’s suffrage struggle. Her academic research focuses on the intersections of political thought, class, region, and gender on Chicano identity in Michigan.

Ruth Stevens | 50 Years Later: A Look Back at the Fight Over the ERA in Grand Rapids

Ruth Stevens is a retired professor of Legal Studies at Grand Valley State University.  She earned a J.D. from the University of Michigan and a Master’s in Library and Information Science from Wayne State University and she is currently a member of the board of the Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council. She has written about and presented on a variety of local history topics, including early female attorneys in Grand Rapids and the history of the women’s suffrage movement in West Michigan. 

Team Photo | Vanished Market Avenue NW: From Fulton to Monroe

Team Photo is the moniker for the Public Museum’s photo researchers, who also happen to be members of the Grand Rapids Historical Society, and include Sue Bogard, Nan Schichtel, Gina Bivins, and Chris Kaupa.

Jon VanderPloeg | Emmett Bolden v Grand Rapids Operating Company (Keith Theatre)

Jon VanderPloeg is a graduate of Ottawa Hills High School, Hope College, and Indiana University School of Law. He has spent over 40 years specializing in appellate practice, in both the Michigan Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, and the federal courts of appeals. Jon is currently of-counsel with the law practice of Hilger and Hammond. Jon is a regular presenter at OLLI at Aquinas College, usually on music history and its reflection and shaping of our cultural heritage. He is currently on the Board of Directors of the Grand Rapids African American Museum and Archives and serves as its Vice President. Jon’s upbringing in the 1950’s and 1960’s with his father, a Kent County Assistant Prosecutor, Grand Rapids City Attorney, and judge of the Grand Rapids Superior Court, and Kent County Circuit Court, nurtured Jon’s life-long interest in local law, history and politics. 

Thomas R. Wilson | 1913: Automobiles and Their Owners in Grand Rapids

Tom Wilson retired from Sears Roebuck and Company, where he held various positions in his thirty-eight year career. Tom attended Grand Valley State University and is a life-long student of history and genealogy enthusiast.Tom is an automotive history buff and has owned several vintage cars over the years. Tom operates a business creating prints from old Michigan and Great Lakes tourist and travel ephemera. He and his wife, M. Christine Byron, have coauthored six books on the history of Michigan tourism.