Sunday, February 18, 2007

Recommended Reading for Michigan Research

Tim Agazio's comment on my "5 Tips for Michigan Internet Research" got me thinking of other resources for beginning Michigan researchers, and I couldn't resist blogging about them. I have four printed resources and several more Internet resources to recommend.
  • *The first resource I ever read on Michigan research was the Family History Center's "Michigan Research Outline". This 16-page booklet gives a quick Michigan history overview, and lists what kind of resources and records that are available to the public, as well as repositories and research centers for the state. Most importantly, it lists the microfilm/fiche numbers for many of the microfilmed records available through the Family History Library. You can rent these through your local Family History Center. At the time, I purchased the Research Outline for about two or three dollars at my local Family History Center. Now I can view the outline online, and even print it up in PDF format (look for the PDF icon on the right side of the page). If you are looking for Research Outlines for other locations (states, provinces, countries), go to the FamilySearch website (, then click on the Search tab in the top menu bar. Under Search, choose Research Helps, and then the letter of the alphabet that corresponds to your locale. While there will be many resources for your location, the Research Outline will be most helpful for specific research in that area.
  • *The next printed resource I found for specific Michigan research was the Michigan Cemetery Compendium. At the time, this (currently) out-of-print book was one of the few Michigan resources of use to me in the genealogy collection of the Spokane Public Library. It lists all the known cemeteries for each county (sub-categorized into townships and cities), including alternate names; the physical location of the cemetery; the owner (in general terms - association, township, or religious, etc.); whether active, inactive, or abandoned; the date its burials were recorded at the Michigan State Library (if recorded); and the name of the cemetery if the bodies were re-interred. You may be lucky to find this book in your local public or genealogical library. If not, you may request that photocopies of the pages for the county you need be sent to you via InterLibrary Loan. However, this information is also available online at the State of Michigan's History, Arts, and Libraries website (HAL) at the Michigan Cemetery Sources page. Click on Search, then choose a county for a list of all cemeteries within that county. Or make your search more specific by also choosing a township. Be sure to check the bottom of your screen to see if there are more pages of hits available. Clicking on view to the left of the cemetery name will give you information as to whether burial transcriptions are available in printed form. These publications may be available through InterLibrary Loan.
  • *The next printed resource with Michigan research tips I read was Ancestry's Red Book: American State, County & Town Sources. Most genealogy libraries have this in their collection. It is a wonderful list of sources categorized by state, and is very much like having a library of state research resources in one concise volume. Each chapter is written by one or more expert researcher or professional genealogist with expertise in that state's research. A map by Bill Dollarhide and a table of county information is provided for each state. The county information includes the clerk's address, the date of formation, parent county/ies, and the dates land, probate, and court records began. New England states also have similar town resource tables. subscribers can access this book online. Because it's transcribed and not scanned, it is a little tricky accessing the first page of the Michigan chapter, but I found it here. You can also search the Red Book database by keywords (michigan immigration, new hampshire census, etc.) here.
  • *I was overjoyed when I discovered that there was a book titled Michigan Genealogy: Sources & Resources (Carol McGinnis, 2005 [2nd edition], Genealogical Publishing Company)! Imagine a whole book filled with information just for the Michigan researcher! You can read the blurb at GPC. (There is a limited preview edition [the first three pages of each chapter] of the first printing of this book available on Google Books here.) The photo below shows loving use with tons of Post-its!
  • *For more online resources, spend some time reading and browsing at the following websites: Cyndi's List (specific Michigan resources and localities), Linkpendium (specific Michigan resources), and the State of Michigan's History, Arts and Libraries pages. On the last-mentioned website, take time to check out every link and sub-link in the left-hand menu for access to the Library of Michigan, the state Historical Center, the Archives, Genealogy, Newspapers, and Cemeteries...just to name a few! State Librarian Nancy Robertson's blog can be found on the Library of Michigan page, as well as in my list of Favorite Genealogy Blog Links listed to the right.
I hope this list is helpful, and am always open to more recommendations for Michigan sources.


Tim Agazio said...


Wow, Thanks for this incredible list of resources! You've helped me more then you know...I have one line of my family who actually lived in Michigan and your posts will help me with them. Another family member has been puzzling me for some time. My grandfather immigrated from Italy to Canada and entered the US at Ste. Sault Marie sometime in 1901. I don't think he spent much time in the state. The mystery is that I have not been able to find any info on immigration from Canada through Ste. Sault Marie. I've spent a lot of time at the National Archives, but with no luck. There a lot of info on the Port of Detroit, but nothing on Ste. Sault Marie that I can you have any recommendations on where I can look?

Tim Agazio

Miriam Robbins said...

Tim, Michigan Genealogy states that "through much of Michigan's history, records of border crossings between Canada and Michigan were not kept. However, there are some exceptions."

St. Albans Lists, which don't just include Vermont (where St. Albans is located), but contain border crossing records for all along the U.S.-Canadian border, are available on microfilm from the National Archives, Family History Centers, the Library of Michigan and other libraries. Some of the lists are here, and additional info can be found here.

A 117-roll set of microfilmed records for the Port of Detroit (another border crossing location) is available through the National Archives, Family History Centers, and the Library of Michigan (although it looks as if you've searched these, Tim). "A 23-roll set of microfilm of passenger and alien crew lists of vessels arriving at Detroit between 1946 and 1957 is available through the National Archives."

See how helpful this book is?! A must-have for Michigan researchers!

Tim Agazio said...


Thank you again for the info. I guess I have to go back and revisit the St. Albans list. I've looked at it before, but that was a few years ago. I find it interesting that border crossings records were not kept between Canada and Michigan...I've been thinking that since I couldn't find documentation of my grandfather that he just may have walked across the border...maybe I'm the result of an illegal alien! least as measured by today's standards...that's a twist. Thanks again - I appreciate you taking the time to look this stuff up for me!