Michigan Archives, Libraries, and Societies
This entry was originally written by Arleigh P. Helfer, Jr. and Carol L. Maki for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.
- 1 State Archives of Michigan
- 2 Library of Michigan
- 3 Burton Historical Collection
- 4 Allen County Public Library
- 5 Michigan Historical Collections Bentley Historical Library
- 6 Regional Depository Archives
- 7 Other Libraries
- 8 Genealogical and Historical Societies
702 W. Kalamazoo St.
P.O. Box 30740
Lansing, MI 48909-8240
Original material generated by government offices at the state and/or local level, census records, tax assessment rolls, military records and photographs are among the extensive holdings. It also has some naturalization files, correctional facility records, school records, and depression era agency files. At least sixty-three information circulars on various topics are distributed by the archives; a listing of these is available online from their website. The circulars act as finding aids to their extensive collection. Some of these are described in the various sections of this chapter. The reading room is inside the Michigan Historical Center, which asks to be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org prior to visits.
Michigan Library and Historical Center
Abrams Historical Collection
702 W. Kalamazoo St.
P.O. Box 30007
Lansing, MI 48909-7507
Holdings here, alleged to be one of the ten largest genealogy collections in the country, include books, microforms, manuscripts, newspapers, surname index, Centennial and Sesquicentennial Certificate applications, and diaries. Records are housed in a new building with card catalog on at least 100 computer terminals. All private and local governmental collection citations are available in the “Answer Online Catalog” and can also be reached from its main website. Limited reference service is available by mail.
Detroit Public Library
5201 Woodward Ave.
Detroit, MI 48202
Considered the largest collection in Michigan, it 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. Refer to Joseph Oldenburg’s A Genealogical Guide to the Burton Historical Collection–Detroit Public Library (Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1988).
Fred J. Reynolds Historical Genealogy Collection
P.O. Box 2270
900 Webster St.
Fort Wayne, IN 46801-2270
As the second largest genealogical repository in North America (see Indiana Archives, Libraries, and Societies), the collection includes significant Michigan source material as described in sections of this chapter.
University of Michigan
1150 Beal Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2113
The focus for genealogical work in this collection is original source materials for Michigan history, with emphasis on Washtenaw County. Specific materials include city directories, plat books for the lower peninsula, newspapers, and church records for almost all Protestant denominations, including discontinued churches.
Regional Depository Archives
Genealogical research in Michigan must include the regional repositories. Each facility includes many of the following in their collections: Michigan military records, manuscripts and diaries, microfilmed newspapers, county and local history books, family genealogies, cemetery records, records of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), maps and atlases, church records, city directories, federal and state census records, and assessment and tax rolls. Contact the individual library for hours; limited replies are given to written queries.
Central Michigan University
300 E. Preston St.
Mt. Pleasant, MI 48859
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. (Strang, a follower of Joseph Smith, who was expelled from the church by Brigham Young, formed the Strangite sect in Wisconsin and Michigan.) This also has been designated a Federal Depository Library.
1903 W. Michigan Ave.
Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5353
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 over 8,000 catalogued photographs.
1400 Townsend Dr.
Houghton, MI 49931
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.
111 Library St. N.E.
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
This library has local history books, microforms, newspapers, cemetery records, manuscripts, diaries, and considerable material on Kent County history and people.
There are literally dozens of local libraries with historical and/or genealogical collections and genealogical societies in the state (see McGinnis—Background Sources). The scope of material in the majority of the libraries is very impressive, including books, microforms, original local manuscripts, church and cemetery records, maps, photographs, family genealogies, newspapers, diaries, and oral histories. Most Michigan public libraries also have a state-sponsored subscription to the online Ancestry Library Edition databases the searching of which is restricted to library locations.
Genealogical and Historical Societies
Numerous organizations of this type exist at both the state and county level in Michigan. Most of them are affiliated with the Michigan Genealogical Council, c/o P.O. Box 80953, Lansing, MI 48908-0953. A list of its member societies, their addresses, and, in some cases, their websites can be obtained on the Internet at www.migenweb.net.