Michigan Societies and Archives

Genealogists are generally positive and energetic, and most are ready to share their findings or research experience with anyone they can help. There are hundreds of genealogical societies at the grass-roots level. Knowledge of the genealogical community will place you in the midst of much activity, increase your productivity, and alert you to the importance of research standards and etiquette.

The Repositories in this section are Archives, Libraries, Museums, Genealogical and Historical Societies. Many County Historical and Genealogical Societies publish magazines and/or news letters on a monthly, quarterly, bi-annual or annual basis. Contacting the local societies should not be over looked. State Archives and Societies are usually much larger and better organized with much larger archived materials than their smaller county cousins but they can be more generalized and over look the smaller details that local societies tend to have. Libraries can also be a good place to look for local information. Some libraries have a genealogy section and may have some resources that are not located at archives or societies. Also, take a special look at any museums in the area. They sometimes have photos and items from years gone by as well as information of a genealogical interest. All these places are vitally important to the family genealogist and must not be passed over.

Michigan Archives

It is wise to acquaint yourself with any repository which you might visit by writing to the appropriate archive or library in advance. Every repository has published materials that introduce its collections and research policy. State archives and historical agencies also have Internet sites that provide the same information. Some even have downloadable databases for some or parts of their collections.

  • State Archives of Michigan, 702 W Kalamazoo Str, P.O. Box 30738, Lansing, MI 48909-8238; (517) 373-1408; Original material generated by government offices at the state and/or local level, including census records, tax assessment rolls, military records and photographs are among the extensive holdings. They also have some naturalization files, correctional facility records, school records, and depression era agency files. The archives distribute information circulars on many topics. The circulars act as finding aids to their extensive collection.
  • National Archives - Great Lakes Region (Chicago), 7358 South Pulaski Road, Chicago, Illinois 60629-5898; 773-948-9001; E-mail: (Maintains retired records from Federal agencies and courts in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.); General Information Leaflet
  • Archives and Historical Collections, Michigan Technological University, 1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, MI 49931; Phone number (906) 487-2505
    This depository is responsible for Gogebic, Ontonagon, Houghton, Keweenaw, Baraga, and Iron counties; it currently holds vital records for Houghton and Keweenaw counties, but has inventories for and will be acquiring records of the other counties. Special collections include those of the Michigan Technological University and the Copper County Historical Collection, the latter containing records of the mining companies and benevolent societies.
  • Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library, 5201 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48202; This, the largest collection in Michigan, includes diverse and extensive holdings of original, printed, and micrographic historical and genealogical material. The emphasis of the collection is on Detroit and Michigan beginning with the seventeenth century.
  • Michigan Historical Collections, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, 1150 Beal Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2113; The focus for genealogical work in this collection is original source materials for Michigan history and church records for almost all Protestant denominations, including discontinued churches.
  • Archives and Regional History Collections, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI 49008; Phone number (616) 387-3990; This collection includes township and county records from Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Branch, Cass, Calhoun, St. Joseph, Kalamazoo, Kent, Muskegon, Ottawa, and Van Buren counties and 8,000 catalogued photographs.

Search Michigan Historical Records - Databases include Court, Land, Wills & Financial Records; Birth, Marriage & Death Records; Voter Lists & Census Records; Immigration & Emigration Records; Obituary Records; Military Records; Family Tree Records; Pictures; Stories, Memories & Histories; Directories & Member Lists and much more....

Michigan Historical & Genealogical Societies

Because family history research relies greatly upon records found at the county level, many local societies represent counties. Organizations also form around shared interests. Ethnic or religious origins account for many groups, such as the Polish Genealogical Society of America and P.O.I.N.T. (Pursuing Our Italian Names Together). Societies also form around common locales of origin for members’ ancestors; hence, the Palatines to America and Germans from Russia societies. To locate these and other societies, consult Juliana Szucs Smith’s The Ancestry Family Historian’s Address Book. It lists addresses, telephone and fax numbers, and Internet addresses of thousands of organizations throughout the United States.

For almost every state there is a state genealogical society, a state genealogical council, or both. In addition to their own work, state-level groups sometimes help coordinate the efforts of local societies within the state. Their publications, newsletters and quarterlies, supplement those produced by the local societies.

  • The Historical Society of Michigan, 1305 Abbott Rd., East Lansing, MI 48823; (517) 324-1828, Fax: (517) 324-4370, e-mail:
  • Western Michigan Genealogical Society c/o Grand Rapids Public Library, 111 Library Street NE, Grand Rapids, MI, 49503-3268;
  • Library of Michigan, : 702 W. Kalamazoo St, Lansing, MI 48909; Holdings here include an extensive genealogical and historical collection including books, microforms, manuscripts, newspapers, surname index, Centennial and Sesquicentennial Certificate applications, and diaries. Records are housed in a new building with card catalog. See: http://michigan.gov/hal/libraryofmichigan for more information/services. Limited reference service to mail request. They also offer online reference services at:
  • Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, MI 48859, Phone number (517) 774-3352; Resources of particular interest to genealogists in this repository include records of Native Americans in Michigan, extensive material on Isabella County, and the James Jesse Strang Mormon Collection.
  • Allen County Library, Reynolds Historical Genealogy Collection, P.O. Box 2270, 900 Webster Street, Fort Wayne, IN 46801; As a major repository for the midwest as well as other areas of the country, the collection includes significant Michigan source material.
  • Michigan Historical Collections, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, 1150 Beal Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2113; The focus for genealogical work in this collection is original source materials for Michigan history and church records for almost all Protestant denominations, including discontinued churches.
  • Michigan Room, Grand Rapids Public Library, 60 Library Plaza, Grand Rapids, MI 49503; Phone number (616) 456-3640; This library has local history books, microforms, newspapers, cemetery records, manuscripts, diaries, and considerable material on Kent County history and people.
  • Mid-Michigan Genealogical Society, MMGS; P 0 BOX 16033, Lansing, MI 48901-6033
  • Directories & Member Lists - Directories and member lists are typically compilations of information about people who belonged to various associations and groups or lived within city boundaries. They can be thought of as the predecessors to the modern-day phone book and usually list names, addresses, and sometimes the occupations of your ancestors.
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