NGS Research in the States Series: Michigan


“Throughout Michigan’s varied and fascinating history, its people have been leaders. They have led the nation in the production of automobiles, iron and copper, lumber, and many agricultural products. Of even greater importance, Michigan citizens have been leaders in the movements for equitable working conditions, civil rights, and a clean environment. Perhaps, to paraphrase William Faulkner, Michigan will be a leader in helping humans to not merely survive, but prevail over our common problems.”

This Issue: NGS Research in the States Series: Michigan; written by Shirley M. DeBoer.

Michigan’s European settlers began with the French and British, with some others mixed in. “Later Italians and Scandinavians were miners and lumberjacks.” Quality farm land attracted many Dutch, Germans, and Irish. Of course, before the European settlers were the Native Americans, predominately the Chippewa (Ojibwa) and Potawatomi.

Each guide in this series offers a bit of history behind each type of record or resource as well as names and descriptions for specific archives.  For example, under the heading Prison Records, a section not found in most of the guides, you will find the following:

“Michigan has three historic state prisons: Jackson (1837) and Ionia (1877) in the Lower Peninsula and Marquette (1889) in the Upper Peninsula. Information from comprehensive card indexes for individuals who served time in state facilities in available upon request at the archives. In addition to the card files, three Archival Circulars are helpful. ‘Correctional Facilities’ contains records from the three major correctional institutions; ‘Pardons, Paroles, Warrants, and Extraditions;’ and ‘Youths, Records Relating To’ is for adoptees or children who had problems adjusting to society. The latter restricted-access records are available with permission from outside the archives.

“Historically the state has had two federal prisons. …”

In the guide, each section is handled in like manner. Plenty of specific information on what records are available and where to find them.

About the Series

Beginning in 1987, the National Genealogical Society began publishing a series of state guides in the organization’s magazine, the Quarterly. These guides were later re-issued as special publications designed to support genealogical research in each state. Eventually those guides became outdated and out of print. The current set of guides represents a refresh of those publications, updated and improved for today’s traditional and digital research resources.

About the Author

Shirley M. De Boer is “a minister’s wife and high school teacher,” with a masters degree in teaching. She developed an early interest in genealogy, leading her to certification and becoming an instructor of genealogy. She specializes in New England migration through New York to the west. Shirley is a member of the Western Michigan Genealogical Society, where she has served in many key positions.  She was the Society’s 2004 recipient of the Ken Gackler Award “For Outstanding Contributions toward the Advancement and Promotion of Family History.”

More About the State Guides (from the Introduction)

“Readers should be aware that every effort has been made to include current web addresses throughout the publication and all were verified immediately prior to release…”

“Two research facilities used by many genealogists are the Family History Library (FHL) and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Most genealogists are familiar with the abbreviations used for these two facilities and they are used in these publications. Otherwise the use of abbreviations and acronyms is kept to a minimum.”

Table of Contents

History and Settlements

  • Early History
  • Settlement
  • Migration
  • Economy

Archives, Libraries, and Societies

  • Michigan Library and Historical Center
  • Archives of Michigan
  • Archives of Michigan Regional Depositories
  • Library of Michigan
  • Other Libraries
  • Michigan Genealogical Council
  • Michigan Historical Society
  • Local Societies and Historical Organizations
  • National Archives-Great Lakes Region

Major Resources

  • Aids to Research
  • Atlases, Gazetteers, and Maps
  • Biographical Guides
  • Business Records
  • Cemetery Records
  • Census Records
    • Pre-Statehood Census
    • Federal Census
    • State Census
    • Special Census
  • City and County Directories
  • City Records and Research
  • County and Township Records and Research
  • Court Records
    • Territorial Courts
    • Federal Courts
    • State Courts
    • Court Reporters
  • Ethnic Records
  • Land Records
  • Maritime Records
  • Military Records and Benefits
    • Veterans Benefits and Soldiers’ Homes
  • Naturalization and Immigration
  • Newspapers
  • Prison Records
  • Religious Records
  • School Records, Youths and Orphans, Sanitoria and Infirmed
  • Tax Records
  • Vital Records
    • Adoption Records
    • Birth, Marriage, Divorce, and Death Records
  • Voter Rolls
  • Women of Michigan
  • Conclusion

These guides are an excellent resource for state by state research. Available guides, including NGS Research in the States Series: Michigan are available from Family Roots Publishing.

Other guides in series reviewed to date (in alphabetical order):

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