Our Story 

The Michigan Women's Studies Association (MWSA), an academic professional organization, was founded in 1973 on the campus of Michigan State University to change what was thought and taught about women, particularly Michigan women, in schools, colleges and universities. As an extension of that mission, the organization decided to establish a museum dedicated to women's history: the first of its kind in the nation.

To house the museum, MWSA acquired a lease on the City of Lansing-owned Cooley-Haze House in 1980 on the condition that the building be brought up to code. By 1986, $180,000 had been raised and work was begun on the renovation.

The Michigan Women's Historical Center and Hall of Fame (MWHOF) was dedicated and opened to the public on June 10, 1987, the anniversary date of Michigan's ratification of the Women's Suffrage Amendment.

After 30 years in the Cooley-Haze House, MWHOF moved to the Meridian Mall in Okemos, Michigan, with a grand re-opening in May 2017.

Effective March 1, 2018, the Michigan Women’s Historical Center merged with Michigan Women’s Foundation. Together the two organizations rebranded to become Michigan Women Forward (MWF). As one of the organization’s core endeavors, the Historical Center and Hall of Fame were renamed HERStory.

The mission and vision of MWF is to accelerate Michigan’s progress by advancing equality and opportunity for women and girls, driving toward a Michigan where women are recognized leaders who thrive, contribute and uplift the state’s future. HERStory’s role is to honor the achievements of Michigan women past and present through exhibits, educational programs and as the continuing stewards of the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame has inducted a new class of inspiring Michigan women, historical and contemporary, every year since 1983. In October 2018, ringing in Michigan Women Forward’s inaugural year as running the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame, five women received the honors: Agatha Biddle, Mona Hanna-Attisha, Clara Stanton Jones, Angela Wilson and Kym Worthy.

In January 2019, MWF HERStory moved into MWF’s downtown Lansing facility with exhibition, meeting and events space. In addition, traveling exhibits and a speaker’s bureau carry the mission throughout the state.