loading background

Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

loading media...
Women in Office

Women in Office

GRHC - July 28th, 2010

The stories of two early Grand Rapids women politicians: Harriet Cook and Alde L. T. Blake.   



Here-today, gone-tomorrow municipal suffrage laws complicate our efforts to understand Michigan women's elective story. In general, though, as soon as women were eligible to run for a position, they did. Although in 1867 the state allowed tax-paying women to vote in school board elections, Grand Rapids did not participate until 1888 when Harriet A. Cook ran and caused an uprising in the Third Ward caucus. Although three candidates were allowed, a male majority selected just one male candidate and immediately adjourned. Women present declared a breach of faith and announced that they would run Harriet Cook as an independent candidate. She won and held office for one term after which she was defeated. Cook, an upscale dressmaker with independent means, invested her time and money as a suffrage lobbyist in Lansing.

Alde Louise Tuck Blake's political career provides a mini-history of women's suffrage and elective opportunities around the turn of the twentieth century. Availing herself of the only elective possibility in 1899, she was seated as the third woman on the Grand Rapids School Board and made headlines. Blake, a local and state suffrage leader guided the movement into the flashier new century. Blake built on her 1899 electoral experience by serving as an officer in 1920 of the newly formed state League of Women Voters, serving on the Republican State Central Committee, and running for the state legislature in 1920. She seems to have attended every Lincoln Day Dinner in the early 1920s—despite her well-publicized fights against the local McKay political machine.


Full Details

TitleWomen in Office
KeywordsGlance at the Past, history, politics, Cook, Blake, Harriet, Alde, office, voting, radio, WYCE, Grand Rapids, Historical Commission, Podcast
Pubdate StringJuly 28th, 2010

Like Us on Facebook
site by GRCMC