Background Sources for Michigan

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This entry was originally written by Arleigh P. Helfer, Jr. and Carol L. Maki for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
the Michigan Family History Research series.
History of Michigan
Michigan Vital Records
Census Records for Michigan
Background Sources for Michigan
Michigan Maps
Michigan Land Records
Michigan Probate Records
Michigan Court Records
Michigan Tax Records
Michigan Cemetery Records
Michigan Church Records
Michigan Military Records
Michigan Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
Michigan Archives, Libraries, and Societies
Michigan Naturalization
Ethnic Groups of Michigan
Michigan County Resources
Map of Michigan


The numerous county histories and many volumes of Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections are suggested as sources of early local history. The latter, frequently listed as Michigan Historical Collections, was published between 1877 and 1929 by the Pioneer Society of the State of Michigan. Included in the forty volumes are proceedings of the society, biographical sketches, obituaries, genealogies, and other historical material. A finding aid to the Collections was originally developed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA): Michigan Historical Society, Classified Finding List of the Collections of the Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society (Detroit: Wayne University Press, 1952).

Two sources for genealogical information and research in the state of Michigan are:

  • Callard, Carol, ed. Sourcebook of the Michigan Census, County Histories and Vital Records. Lansing, Mich.: Library of Michigan, 1987.
  • McGinnis, Carol. Michigan Genealogy Sources and Resources. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1987.

The above two sources provide information on the availability of vital and government records. McGinnis’s has sections on genealogical collections and historical and genealogical societies, arranged by county.

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