The Western Michigan Genealogical Society has several million records online in free genealogy databases including:

  • West Michigan Newspapers DatabaseAn index to the Death Notices and Obituaries published in the Grand Rapids Press and Grand Rapids Herald from 1910 to today. It includes the listings of Engagements, Weddings and Anniversaries from the Saturday papers from today, going back in time to 1966. Starting on 25 January 2008 the index also includes the daily “In Memoriam” entries from the Grand Rapids Press, and also includes an index to the Rockford Register, and over 9,000 records from The Northfield Advance during the 1990s that are linked to scanned images of the notice. The clippings are used with permission of Advance Newspapers. Starting in April 2011 we are now including entries from The Holland Sentinel both ongoing and backwards as they are available. …13 September 2016 – added Articles, Obits and EWA from The Grand Rapids Press for April through August 2016, Grand Rapids EWA from 1950 and 1949, and Obits and EWA from The Holland Sentinel for April through August 2016 – adding 14,212 new records. Also a number of transcriptions provided by researchers – watch for the “View Transcription” button on your results to see if someone has already transcribed the record you’re looking for. (Note – the database file size on the server has now passed 500MB!!)

  • Kent School County Census “Index to the listings of Student and Teacher names in the Annual Census and Statistic Returns of Kent County Schools from 1903 – 1925. We can provide copies of the pages from these books which show students names and details, as well as details about the school attended.”

  • West Michigan Church Records “In 1974, the Western Michigan Genealogical Society began the project of collecting and recording the church records in Kent County of those churches which were in existence before 1876. The records included baptisms, marriages, deaths and memberships where possible up to the year 1876.”

  • Michigana “Index to the names of people mentioned in the first 61 years of WMGS’ quarterly publication Michigana from 1954 – 2015. If you search and find a name, or an article you’re interested in you will be able to order a copy of the page(s) the name is on. In many instances you’ll be able to order a copy of the whole issue containing the page. This is identified on the Search Results page. 15 September 2016 – added the Name Index and Subject Index for 2015.”

  • Veterans “Index of the residents of the “The Grand Rapids Home for Veterans”.
    29 January 2007. Added another 1,769 records of the men’s index to the database. Total Men’s records now 10,946. Total including Women 13,697. All records that are available on microfilm at the Grand Rapids Public Library are now listed in this index.”

  • World War One Veterans Census “A searchable database containing the names of Veterans of World War One who were living in Kent County, Michigan after the end of The Great War. Records contain information about the Vet’s parents, birth date and place, military service and other information.”

  • WMGS Manuscripts14 September 2016- added 74,307 records from another 597 manuscript files. There are now 2,293 manuscript files online. The search results are linked to PDF files that contain scanned images of the pages in the Manuscript. Some files are larger than 10 MB, so please be patient if you try to download one of these files.”

  • WMGS Members’ Genealogy “Genealogy files made up from the 4 generation charts that have been submitted by WMGS Members over the 50 years WMGS has been collecting these. These files are slowly being added to as the existing charts are entered.”

  • Black Monument Company “A listing of names in the Order Books of the Black Monument Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Records in this database indicate the names and dates that were placed on grave markers ordered from the Black Monument Company, and shows the name of the cemetery the marker was placed in.”

  • Farm Bureau News “An every name index to the people listed in the Farm Bureau News published in Kent County Feb. 1918 – Dec. 1926.”

  • Michigan Census “A compilation of census indexes from Western Michigan. The indexes were compiled by Evelyn Sawyer, and include records from Kent, Ottawa, Barry, Newaygo, Mecosta and other counties from 1860, 1870 Federal Censuses and 1884 and 1894 Michigan Censuses.”

  • Kent County DeathsIndex to the names of the people listed in the Index to the deaths recorded in Kent County, Michigan. 4 January 2010 – added more records – total now 92,843. Included 2,364 records provided by Karen Blumenshine which include information from the records like Gender, Age at Death, Birth and Death place, Cause of Death and Parents.

  • Kent County Marriages “Index to the names of the people listed in the Index to the marriages recorded in Kent County, Michigan from 1845 to 1929.”

  • Latzek Funeral Home “An index to the Registers of the Latzek Funeral Home in Grand Rapids from 1903 – 1962. If you search it and find a record that is of interest to you, we can provide a hand written transcript of it from the book. See the Search Results page for full details.”

  • Chapman’s 1881 History of Kent County “An every name index to the Chapman’s History of Kent County, published in 1881. Search results are linked to scanned images made available by the University of Michigan Digital Library Production Service, which has provided searchable scanned images of many different books of Michigan History.”

  • Goss’ History of Grand Rapids and its Industries “Index to the names of people in the 1906 Goss History of Grand Rapids. If you find a person you’re looking for, you can click a link to download a PDF file that has an image of that page from the book in it.”

  • Quigley “An index of Family Names and Articles from various Periodicals compiled by Maud Quigley.”

  • Western Michigan Surnames and Queries “A place to post your queries of surnames you’re working on, and find others working on the same line.”

Visit their membership site for membership information and benefits and their blog for current genealogical articles and news.


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