Michigan Genealogical Council

Michigan Research Tools

Michigan has a deep heritage that starts before 1600. The state is rich in resources for genealogists. Please use the links on this page to research your Michigan ancestors.

There are many genealogy-related websites. Michigan resources will be limited to those rich in Michigan records. We are excluding commercial genealogy sites and massive genealogy site indexes.

If you know of a free web resource that will aid those doing Michigan research or discover a broken, or obsolete, link, please send an email to info@mimgc.orgĀ 

NOTE: Due to the Covid pandemic not all repositiories are open in Michigan. Please contact the repository before visiting for hours and guidelines.

Battle Creek Memorial Park
This site includes a searchable database of burials.

Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War Graves Database
This is a continuing project to locate, identify, and mark the final resting place of those who fought in the Civil War.

Tombstone Transcription Project
Many Michigan cemetery records and pictures are available at the Michigan Tombstone Transcription Project. Cemeteries are listed by county.

U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs
Searchable database. National Cemetery Gravesite Locator.

Thomas MacEntee’s Cheat Sheets
Generous genealogist ,Thomas MacEntee, has created 30 free, easy to use cheat sheets that cover a range of topics. Everything from using Google, city directories, and school yearbooks, to search strategies, online safety, and military research, to census records and much more are included. These sheets are two sided, downloadable .pdf. All FREE.

The Burton Historical Collection at the Detroit Public Library is the official archives for Detroit. It covers the period from the 17th century forward.

Grand Rapids
The City Archives and Records Center holds the city of Grand Rapids collection. It includes cemetery records, city directories, court records, school archives and tax records. An appointment to visit is recommended.

Michigan Judicial System Description
Michigan’s judicial systems is described here. Very few court records are available prior to 1833, in Michigan. Research with court records needs to be done with the clerk office in the appropriate court.

Trial Courts Directory
The directory of trial courts for the 83 counties in Michigan.

Clinton County Clerk Deaths Index
Index of deaths in Clinton County from 1934.

Deaths 1867-1897
The Genealogical Death Indexing System GENDIS has death records for the years 1867-1897.

Emmet County Clerk Deaths Index
Index of death records from 1867.

Genesee County Clerk Vital Records Index
Index of deaths from 1930 and marriages from 1963.

Genesee County Death Index (1867 – 1930)
Information from the Flint Genealogical Society and the County Clerk Office.

Grand Traverse County Clerk Death Records
Index of death records from 1867.

Macomb County Clerk Index
Index of deaths from December, 1944 to present.

The first major project was the digitization of roughly one million death records covering the years 1897 through 1952. Images of those records older than 75 years are available for viewing.

Washtenaw County Clerk Index
Index of deaths from 1959 to present. There is also a link to order documents.

African American-A Fluid Frontier
A book, “A Fluid Frontier” by Karolyn Smardz Frost and Veta Smith Tucker describes experiences of the Underground Railroad and Detroit.

African American-Michigan Manual of Freedmen’s Progress
The Michigan Manual of Freedmen’s Progress includes information on ancestry, children, education, marital status, occupation, and value of their property from a survey of African Americans, conducted in 1915.

Canadian-Archives of Canada
Due to the close proximity of Ontario, Canada to Michigan there were close ties between the two. The Archives of Ontario is a valuable resource. Be sure to check out the Land Record Index, 1780-1920.

Canadian-Ontario Township Finder
PDF list compiled by Joanne Harvey in 1990. This aid will help you locate the county a township is located in. The list is in alphabetical order by township.

Finnish-American Heritage Center and Historical Archives
The Finnish American Heritage Center and Historical Archives houses the largest collection of Finnish-North American materials in the world, including genealogical resources. it is also home to the Finnish American Folk School. It is located on the campus of Finlandia University, Hancock, MI.

Genealogy Guides
The Grand Rapids Public Library, Grand Rapids, MI has .pdf guides for the following ethnicities: African American, Dutch, German, Irish, Latinx, Native American, and Polish.

Jewish-Holocaust Memorial Center
The Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills, MI covers the history of the Holocaust. Subject specialities are listed on their website. The Gayle Sweetwine Saini Memorial Library is housed here. It is the library of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Michigan.

Michigan Ethnic Directory
A resource showing the diverse population of Michigan. Although no longer updated it still provides information of value.

Native American Great Lakes Tribes
A map showing the tribes of the Great Lakes, including Michigan.

Native American-Michigan State University Research Guide
Michigan State University has a Native Americans Research Study Guide with multiple tabs of information.

Native American-Research Guide
A Native American research guide by Patricia Wazny-Hamp is available.

Native Americans-Clarke Historical Library
The counties of Emmet, Isabella, Leelanau, Mackinac, and Oceana had large Native American populations. The Clarke Historical Library at Central Michigan University has many records.

Michigan GenWeb Project
Michigan is home to 83 counties and most Michigan records are kept at the county level. Check the Michigan Gen Web website for your county of interest. Many of the counties have information for reseaching in that county.

US GenWeb Project
Michigan became a state in 1837. It wasn’t until after the War of 1812 that people started migrating to the Michigan Territory. Many settlers came from New York, New England region, and Canada.

Canada GenWeb Project
Due to Michigan’s close proximity to the Canadian border it is important to check for your ancestors here.

History of the Great Lakes Volume 1

History of the Upper Midwest
Essays and Articles from the Library of Congress

Canadian Passenger Lists
If you aren’t finding your ancestor’s passenger list in the United States, check the Canadian Passenger Lists. The waterways from Quebec to Michigan were well travelled.

General Land Office (GLO) for Michigan
General Land Office (GLO) plat maps are derived from original surveyor notes of the State of Michigan.

Allen County Public Library
This library is located in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It is the second largest genealogical collection in the U.S.

Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections
The J. Robert Van Pelt Library at Michigan Technological University, 1400 Townsend Dr, Houghton, MI 49931 covers Baraga, Gogebic, Houghton, Iron, Keweenaw, and Ontonagon counties. This Upper Peninsula library has information on ethnic groups, Great Lakes maritime research, and mining company research. Their “Guide to Genealogical Sources” is a good place to start in this library.

Archives at Western Michigan University
The Archives and Regional History Collection, Charles C. and Lynn L. Zhang Legacy Collection Center, 1650 Oakland Dr. Kalamazoo, MI 49008 is home to records from Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo, Kent, Muskegon, Ottawa, St. Joseph, and Van Buren counties.

Archives of Michigan
The Archives of Michigan is responsible for preserving the records of Michigan government and other public institutions. In fulfilling this primary mission, it serves as the collective memory of Michigan state government. In addition, after review, the Archives of Michigan also accepts papers from private individuals and organizations. It is located in Lansing, Michigan.

Bentley Historical Library
Bentley Historical Library at University of Michigan, 1150 Beal Ave., Ann Arbor, Michigan has manuscripts, maps, and resources for all of Michigan counties. Mirlyn is its online catalog,

Burton Historical Collection at the Detroit Public Library
This collection is housed at the Detroit Public Library, 5201 Woodward Ave. Detroit, MI 48202. It has more than 4000 collections containing twelve million items including personal papers and records of businesses, churches and organizations.

Clarke Historical Library
The Clarke Historical Library is on the campus of Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, MI. Its collection covers Clare, Gladwin, Gratiot, Isabella, and Midland counties. It has one of the finest collections about Native Americans. The Northwest Territory collection includes books, manuscripts, microfilm, images, and maps. Clarke Historical Library is a closed stacks library. Clark is also home to the Digital Michigan Newspaper collection. See separate link under newspapers.

Escanaba Public Library
Escanaba Public Library, Escanaba, Michigan is the repository for the Delta County Genealogical Society Collection. Delta county death records, nautical charts, and Canadian resources are available as well. Their collection emphasizes research in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Family Search
FamilySearch is a nonprofit family history organization dedicated to connecting families across generations. It provides records, resources and services to assist users in learning about their family history.

Flint Public Library
The Flint Public Library, 1026 Kearsley St., Flint MI 48502 has the second largest open stack genealogical collection in Michigan. Holdings include Genesee county, New England, New York, and Canadian resources.

Grand Rapids History and Special Collections
Grand Rapids Public Library, 111 Library St. N.E. Grand Rapids, MI 49503 has archival and local history materials including maps, books, newspapers, censuses and more.

Hoyt Library
Local History and Genealogy Collection, Hoyt Library, 505 Janes Ave,. Saginaw, MI 48607 has extensive genealogical resources, materials on Saginaw history and the people who settled in the area. Ledgers, diaries, photographs, and scrapbooks combine with books, microfilms, and periodicals to help family history researchers.

Joint Archives of Holland
Hope College, Theil Research Center, 9 East Tenth St., Holland, MI 49423 focuses on the history of Dutch American immigration and the Reformed Church. Two libraries, Joint Archives of Holland and A.C. Van Raalte Institute, holds records of importance to Dutch-Americans.

Kresge Library at Oakland University
The Kresge Library, 2200 N. Squirrel Rd. Rochester, MI 48309 houses Oakland county collections.

Library of Michigan
The Library of Michigan, founded in 1828, has many collections of interest to genealogists. Centennial (1976) family certificate questionnaires, Sesquicentennial Pioneer Certificates (1987), territorial and state session laws, and Michigan Supreme Court Records are just a few of the collections held here. Current and historical materials, books, magazines, maps, and newspapers cover Michigan and the Great Lakes region.

Library/Archives of Michigan ANSWER Online Catalog
Online catalog of the Library of Michigan and Archives of Michigan.

Michigan County Histories and Atlases
A collection of scanned books from the University of Michigan. This free collection has over 400 titles that were published before 1923.

Michigan Electronic Library
MEL, hosted by the Library of Michigan.

Michigan Library Directory
A directory of Michigan libraries with contact information and website links.

National Archives and Records Administration
The website of the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, DC and other locations in the United States. The NARA Chicago location has records of interest to the Great Lakes region.

Northern Michigan University Archives
Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives, 126 Harden Learning Resources Center, 1401 Presque Isle Ave, Marquette, MI includes resources from Alger, Delta, Dickinson, Marquette, Menominee, and Schoolcraft counties. Local government, naturalization, and church records, oral history collections, resource guides, and history of the central Upper Peninsula can be found here.

The Making of Modern Michigan
The Making of Modern Michigan is a collaborative with 52 Michigan libraries. It includes local history information from Michigan communities, including photographs, family papers, oral historiies, genealogical materials and more. A wonderful subject list is included.

Upper Peninsula Digitization Center
The Upper Peninsula Digitization Center is a digital collection of the state’s history. It includes historical photographs, Native American artifacts, shipping information, railroad schedules, and oral histories of the region.

Van Raalte Institute
Hope College, Theil Research Center, 9 East Tenth St., Holland, MI 49423 focuses on the history of Dutch American immigration and the Reformed Church. Two libraries, Joint Archives of Holland and A.C. Van Raalte Institute, holds records of importance to Dutch-Americans.

Colonial Michilmackinac
Colonial Michilmackinac has pictures of this outpost pretty much as it was in the 1700’s.

Fort Mackinac
Fort Mackinac on historic Mackinac Island has the oldest building in Michigan on it. It takes you back to the days when the British controlled the fort.

Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village
The museum has millions of artifacts and some of those artifacts can be found online. Searchable digital collections and resources, including artifacts, objects, buildings, archival documents, and oral histories can be found on this website.

Michigan Historical Museum
The Michigan Historical Museum has exhibits on First People, Settling a State, Civil War, Farm and Factory, Lumbering, Mining, and Growing up in Michigan.

General Land Office Plat Maps
County maps of Michigan can be found here. Maps include townships and cities and towns.

Great Lakes Profile Map
Information on the Great Lakes thar helps understand the size and depth of the lakes.

Old Maps of the Great Lakes

Dowling Marine Historical Collection
The Fr. Edward J. Dowling, S.J. Marine Historical collection is housed at the University of Detroit, Mercy. It has photographs, plastic and glass negatives, postcards, color plates, sketches, and paintings. It has detailed information on commercial ships on the Great Lakes.

Downward Bound
Downward Bound honors those who worked on the Great Lakes. A photo gallery, biographies, obituaries, resources and online files are part of the website.

Great Lakes Marine Collection
This collection is housed at the Milwaukee Public Library. It includes books, photographs, articles, ship files, log books, vessel plans, wreck reports and more.

Great Lakes Maritime Collection
George N. Fletcher Public Library, Alpena, MI houses this collection. It includes a Vessel Database, the SS City of Alpena logbook transcription project and the Thunder Bay Island and Middle Island Life-Saving Station / Lighthouse Logbooks transcription projects, and more.

Historical Collections of the Great Lakes
Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, KY has ports, people, and vessels databases. Their manuscript collection has books, pamphlets, periodicals, drawings, maps, charts, and photographs.

Lake Superior Maritime Collection
The Jim Dan Hill Library at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, Superior, Wisconsin has a research collection relating to the Great Lakes.

Lighthouse Keepers
Michigan has more lighthouses than any other state. Michigan has over 100 lighthouses along it 3200 miles of shoreline. This website has historical pictures, articles, and information on lighthouse keepers.

Civil War-1894 Census Index
The Michigan Civil War 1894 Census Index is searchable here.

Civil War-Michigan in the Civil War
Michigan in the Civil War by Don Harvey has regimental histories, battle information, wartime deaths, soldier gravesites, and photographs.

Civil War-Michiganology
Check the Michiganology website for Record of Service of Michigan Volunteers in the Civil War, 1861-1865, and Civil War manuscripts information.

Department of Military and Veterans Affairs
Information for veterans may be found at the Michigan.gov/dmva website. Some veteran military records are housed here.

Spanish American War
Michigan volunteers of ’98; a complete photographic record of Michigan’s part in the Spanish-American war of 1898 is available online. Muster rolls and photographs are included.

Vietnam War
A list of Michigan soldier’s names on the Vietnam Memorial, Washington, D.C.

War of 1812 Pensioners
Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center, Fort Wayne, IN has an 1883 Pensioner’s Index online.

World War I at Archives of Michigan
A card index file is housed at Archives of Michigan for those who served in WWI. Additional Archives of Michigan resources can be found in Circular 4.

Detroit News Archives Index
The Archives of Michigan houses the Detroit News Archives Index at Michiganology.org.

Library of Michigan
The Library of MIchigan has over 70,000 reels of 2200 newspapers on microfilm, some as early as the 1800s.

Michigan Digital Newspaper Portal
Links to Michigan newspapers that have been digitized.

Public Libraries of Saginaw Obituary Index
This index, searchable by name, lists the names of the newspaper and page number of articles about your Saginaw area ancestor. These are primarily death notices and obituaries.

Western Michigan Newspapers Index
Created by the Western Michigan Genealogical Society. Use of the index is free, there is a charge if you wish to order a transcription of an article or death notice.

Northwest Ordinance
Historical information pertaining to the creation of the Northwest Territory.

Ford Motor Company Employees
Records of the Ford Motor Company

Great Lakes Logging Industry
Information and pictures on the logging industry in 1850-1910.

History of Agriculture in Michigan
A short history of agriculture in Michigan including crops grown.

Michigan’s Copper Country
Discovery and development of the copper history in Michigan.

A number of resources about religion in the Great Lakes.

The Fur Trade in Michigan’s History
Resources available at the Library of Michigan on Fur Trade.

The Life of a Lumberman Part I
A three part series from the Wisconsin Historical Society about one person’s experience in lumbering in the Upper Midwest.

The Life of a Lumberman Part II
One person’s experience of working in the lumbering industry. Part II of III

The Life of a Lumberman Part III
Last of three articles about working in the Upper Midwest lumbering industry.

Trapped: Steel, Whiskey, Extinction, and the Upper Peninsula Fur Trade
A journal article by Robert Archibald about the Upper Peninsula of Michigan Fur Trade.

Directories-Michigan Historical Online
Various city directories, organized by county, are part of this collection.

Michigan Gazetteer and Business Directory
The Michigan Gazetteer and Business Directory is available online for 1863-1922, not consecutive. This directory has advertisements, business information, post offices, courts, and more on cities in Michigan.

Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collection
The forty volume Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collection (MPHC) is an important resource for Michigan History. Contents for each volume varies but one will find history, biographical sketches, Michigan Pioneer information, Native American resources, letters, speeches, memorial reports, private and professional papers of individuals, personal remembrances and historical essays. The bulk of these materials span a period of roughly two hundred years, from 1650 to about 1850. A few Civil War articles are available. To find the digitized versions of this collection click on the digitized volumes tab of the website.

Michigan Biographical Index
This is an ongoing project by James N. Jackson, creating a cumulative full-name index merging many Michigan publications and manuscripts.

History of railroads in Michigan and surrounding area.

Baptist-Hillsdale College
The Mossey Library, Hillsdale College 33 East College St., Hillsdale, MI 49242 has some records.

Baptist-Kalamazoo College
Some Baptist records are available at the college archives at Kalamazoo College, 1200 Academy St., Kalamazoo, MI 49006. Genealogy resources are limited, but they do have an obituary collection.

Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit
The Roman Catholic church records for the Archdiocese of Detroit is housed on microfilm at the Burton Historical Collection at Detroit Public Library. A partial .pdf index is available online. Date ranges are 1704-1903.

Catholic Diocese of Gaylord
The Diocese of Gaylord was established in 1971 and covers the northern part of Lower Michigan.

Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids
The Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids was established in 1883 and covers the counties of Ionia, Kent, Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Osceola, and Ottawa. They have an archivist at this diocese that will answer reasonable requests. Also included are all the student records of St, Joseph’s Seminary in Grand Rapids from its opening in 1909 to its closure in 1981

Catholic Diocese of Kalamazoo
This diocese was established in 1971 and covers the counties of Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph, and Van Buren.

Catholic Diocese of Lansing
It was officially established in 1937 and covers the south-central counties of Clinton, Eaton, Genesee, Hillsdale, Ingham, Jackson, Livingston, Lenawee, Shiawassee, and Washtenaw.

Catholic Diocese of Marquette
This diocese was established in 1857 and covers all the Upper Peninsula counties.

Christian Reformed Church-Calvin College
Christian Reformed Church of North America records are found at Heritage Hall, Hekman Library at Calvin College, 1855 Knollcrest Circle SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546

Congregational-Olivet College
The Burrage Library at Olivet College, 320 S. Main St., Olivet, MI 49076 is home to a few records of the Congregational church.

Disciples of Christ
The Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan has information on this religion.

Episcopal Archives
The Archives of the Episcopal Church has a general website.

Episcopal Churches in Michigan
A list of current Episcopal churches is available online.

Episcopal Vertical File
A number of Episcopal church records are on file at the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.

Jewish-Franklin Archives
The Rabbi Leo M. Franklin Archives is one of the most comprehensive archives and the largest in Michigan.

Lutheran-Bentley Library at University of Michigan
The Lutheran Church in America Michigan Synod records 1914-1987 are available at the Bentley Library at the University of Michigan.

Lutheran-Library of Michigan
Many transcribed Lutheran records can be found in the Answer card catalog of the Library of Michigan. Check local genealogical societies in the area your ancestor lived for transcribed church records.

Methodist-Adrian College
The Shipman Library, Adrian College, 110 S. Madison, Adrian,MI 49221 covers Detroit, Eastern Lower Peninsula, and Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Methodist-Albion College
Stockwell-Mudd Library, Albion College, 611 E. Porter St., Albion MI 49224 is the repository for United Methodist Church in Western Michigan.

Michigan Presbyterian records can be found at active churches in Michigan. Inactive churches are found at Presbyterian Historical Society, Philadelphia, Pa.

Vital records from seven Michigan locations can be found in Michigan Quakers: Abstracts of Fifteen Meetings of the Society of friends, 1831-1960 which is available at Michigan State University Library and Library of Michigan as well as other libraries and for purchase.

Reformed Church-Hope College
The Joint Archives of Holland at Hope College, 9 East 10th St., Holland, MI 49423 has a “Guide to Local Church Records in the Archives of the Reformed Church in America: Michigan.” Other genealogy research is available here.

Seventh Day Adventist
Andrews University houses the Center for Adventist Research at the James White library in Berrien Springs, MI. Holdings include Ellen G White writings, manuscripts relevant to the church, digital library, and periodical index.

Cyndi’s List for Michigan
A resource of numerous website links for further exploration.

Linkpendium is a directory of over 10 million links. The link takes you to the Michigan Linkpendium section. Note: Some resource links may take you to a paid website.