Nan Schichtel lecturing at the Grand Rapids Historical Society, February 9

Jesse Buttrick Davis

By Lisa M. Rabey
Systems and Web Librarian

Nan Schichtel, our information literacy and outreach librarian, will be lecturing tonight, February 9, on the behalf of the Grand Rapids Historical Society on the early days of the Grand Rapids Jaycees. Her presentation, Jesse Buttrick Davis and “His Boys”: A History of the Early Grand Rapids Junior Chamber of Commerce, 1909-1929, highlights Schichtel’s on-going research on Davis and early days of Grand Rapids Jaycees, which also cumulated in research for completion of her Masters in Public Administration from GVSU. Schichtel is a life member of the Grand Rapids Jaycees and a trustee at the Grand Rapids Historical Society.

Jesse Buttrick Davis was a prominent national educational and West Michigan civic leader during the 19-teens. Davis is recognized internationally as one of the fathers of the vocational guidance movement. Historian / editor Z.Z. Lydens called Davis one of “Greeson’s Triumvirate.” Today, this highly-regarded Central High School principal is remembered for serving as the first president of Grand Rapids Junior – now Community – College. Those reputations are correct, but for members of one Central High club, he was much more.

Hired to rid the GR’s public schools of bad influences including gambling and “other lewd activities” in downtown hotels, Davis formed innumerable school clubs, bands, and choirs. Collaborating with the Grand Rapids Board of Trade (now Area Chamber of Commerce), he started the Junior Board of Trade – the precursor to the Junior Chamber of Commerce, a.k.a. Jaycees. Grand Rapids Public Library’s archival collections are rich with examples of how, by harnessing the exuberant energies of junior high, high school, and college boys, Davis and “his boys” helped make GR a better place to live, and the boys developed into respected members of the community.

All Grand Rapids Historical Society lectures/programs are held the second Thursday of the month. All programs are co-sponsored by the Gerald R. Ford Museum and are held at the museum, 303 Pearl St NW, at 7:00 p.m. Each program is followed by a reception with light refreshments. Historical Society programs are free and open to the public, with the exception of the May Meeting/Banquet which is open to members and their guest. Free parking at the museum.

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