You are here

1910 Grand Rapids Homecoming pocket mirror. From the collection of Lon Ellis

This pocket mirror is a real favorite of mine being one of the most colorful and well-designed celluloid items in my collection. 

Back during the early 20th century, parades and public events dominated holidays and other special times throughout the year. Such was the case with the 1910 Grand Rapids Homecoming Celebration. In 1909, a group of local Grand Rapids businessmen decided they wanted to put on a spectacular homecoming event and parade the following year. One of the chairpersons for the event was future US Senator Arthur Vandenberg.

The 1910 event was a most spectacular one. Most of the businesses closed for the five-day festival from August 23rd to 27th. The five-day schedule included fireworks, music, circus performances, balloon ascensions, and a grand parade down Monroe Avenue. Fortunately, many souvenir postcards were produced for the event and they exist to this day. The design of these postcards often included the official seal (which is the design on my pocket mirror) and colors of the event which were green, pink, and white. Many of the postcards had images of various important buildings and landmarks in Grand Rapids that were intended to lure visitors back to this homecoming event.

The Grand Parade took place in the middle of the week and went down Monroe and Canal Streets. This grand parade included floats and decorations provided by local businesses which heavily sponsored the event. Many fraternal and masonic organizations such as the Woodmen of the World participated in the event. For the most part, horse-drawn vehicles were used in the parade, however the automobile did make an appearance. Of particular interest was a carriage supposedly used by President Abraham Lincoln which was brought in to the city specifically for the parade.

Also participating in the parade was suffragette Eva McCall Hamilton. She was wearing a wide-brimmed hat and held the reins of the “Lilly Float for Suffragists” in the parade. Of interest to collectors is a real photo postcard of her driving this float with a “Votes For Women” banner down the side of the float. The caption on the postcard says “Grand Rapids Mich Equal Franchise Club”. It was reported that this float was followed by 75 suffragettes in decorated cars.

Eva went on to be very active in the Michigan suffrage movement. In 1912, she was one of three Grand Rapids women who mailed out six tons of “Votes for Women” literature, buttons, postcards, stickers, rubber stamps, paper napkins and lantern slides. In 1920, one year after Michigan ratified the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote, Eva became a state senator for the State of Michigan. Today, her painting in one of six that hangs in the Michigan Senate chambers.

Share with your friends: