Extraordinary Women of the U.P.

March 23 through August 3, 2024

To celebrate Women’s History Month and the great accomplishments of women across the region, the Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center is opening the exhibition, “Extraordinary Women of the U.P.,” on Saturday, March 23 at 1 p.m. The event will take place in the Center’s gallery in Gries Hall on the campus of Northern Michigan University and is free and open to the public. The exhibition will be on display through August 3 and then will begin touring the Upper Peninsula in the fall of 2024. It is funded in part by a grant from the Michigan Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

“Extraordinary Women of the U.P.” will feature the stories of no less than 60 women who made an impact in many different categories including the arts, education, politics, medicine, activism and public service. Many were born and raised in the Upper Peninsula and others came to the region later in life, but they all share in common great accomplishments in their careers, volunteerism and community service. Some of the women went on to have careers that have had an impact on the nation and even the world where others stayed in their hometowns and made them better communities for everyone. 

Much of the research for the exhibition was conducted by students of Dr. Emily Romeo’s women’s history course in the fall of 2023 at Northern Michigan University. Nominees were also submitted by local historical societies and private individuals.  The final list was determined by a committee consisting of: Lisa Cromell, director of the Munising School Public Library; Kathlene Long, director of the Iron County Historical & Museum Society; Elise Nelson, director of the Carnegie Museum of the Keweenaw; Dr. Emily Romeo, assistant professor of history, Northern Michigan University; Daniel Truckey, director/curator of the Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center.

A short list of some the individuals featured in the exhibition include the pioneering accordionist Viola Turpeinen, the Anishinaabe poetess Jane Johnston Schoolcraft, medical researcher Kathleen Shingler Weston, politician Connie Berube Binsfeld, labor organizer Annie Clemenc and many more iconic figures who have made the world a better place. Where many of the women are household names in the U.P., the community had some amazing discoveries of some lesser known yet fantastic women, such as, the civil rights activist and suffragette Blanche Williams Stubbs, daredevil wing/walker Sarah Kalishek, to an early disability advocate and publisher Nettie Steffenson Thorborg.