WICKHAM, GERTRUDE VAN RENSSELAER (18 Mar 1844-20 May 1930), journalist and local historian, was born in Huron, daughter of Sanders and Malinda Woodruff (Hayward) Van Rensselaer. She attended public schools and married Capt. Samuel Wickham on 1 Aug. 1864, with whom she had a daughter, Katherine. After his death in 1869, Wickham for a few years was a principal of the lower grades at Huron High School. Wickham entered journalism when a letter she wrote to the SUNDAY POST was published and drew a positive public response, so that she was asked to contribute weekly. When the paper folded in 1878, she joined the CLEVELAND HERALD, persuading the editors to hire her by suggesting she write a fashion column which, she pointed out, would bring more women into Cleveland to shop, subsequently attracting more advertisers.
In 1881, Wickham joined the editorial staff of the CLEVELAND LEADER when the Herald was merged into that paper. Her columns grew increasingly oriented toward women and children, especially the needy, using letters from indigent women and underprivileged children. She established the Woman's Repository, where destitute women could sell handicrafts. Wickham left the Leader in 1884 because of poor health, although she continued occasional newspaper writing. In 1886 she was a charter member of the Women's Press Club (later CLEVELAND WRITERS' CLUB). In the 1890s, her interests turned to the history of the WESTERN RESERVE. In 1896 she was chosen historian of the women's department by the Cleveland Centennial Commission; she published Pioneer Women of the Western Reserve and Pioneer Families of the Western Reserve.
Gertrude Van Rensselaer Wickham Papers, WRHS.
Finding aid for the Gertrude Van Rensselaer Wickham Papers. WRHS.