19 October 2011

My Library of Michigan Visit

How great is a trip to the Library of Michigan?  It exceeded my expectations!  Where else could I spend a day and find obituaries from Marquette in the Upper Penisula, Manistee in Northwest Michigan and Royal Oak in Southeast Michigan?  It would require hundreds of miles of travel.  I found newspapers from all three of these cities at the library, which is 50 miles from my home.

I started my day by arriving to the library at opening time-10:00 a.m.  I headed straight to the newspaper room.  This is a nice large room with microfilm readers on one side, microfilm scanner/printers on another and hundreds of microfilm rolls from 83 Michigan counties and other large cities.  My goal for the day was to search from my list of obituaries, marriages and 50th wedding anniversary articles.

I had eight articles I wanted to find from The  Mining Journal in Marquette, Michigan.  I started there first.  I pulled four films and went to the microfilm reader to start looking.  (They prefer you find it first on the reader and then take it to the scanner/printer.  There is a 10 minute limit on the scanner/printers.  Although, there were two people who used them the entire time I was there.  I am a rule follower, what can I say!)  I found four of the obituaries I was looking for.  Next, I printed those off.  You have the option of saving to a flash drive, there is one scanner for this purpose. I continued this way for a couple of hours.

I decided to give my eyes a break and headed to the book section.  I looked up information from Lenawee, Washtenaw, and Marquette counties.  I was able to find what I was looking for quite easily.

I went back to the Newspaper room and spent another couple of hours finding the rest of my articles.  I used information from the printed books, that pinpointed exact dates, to complete my newspaper research. 

By this time it was three o'clock and I wanted to do a couple of look ups at the Archives of Michigan.  They are open Monday to Friday, 1-5 p.m.  You walk out the library door and go around a big tree and into another door and the archives are on the left.  Talk about a different world.  I had to sign in and show my driver's license.  I was given a researcher tag and read a list of rules.  I could only take my file folder of information and a pencil in with me.  No three ring binders, pens, laptops, cameras, briefcases, purses etc. were allowed.   Free lockers are available. 

I entered the actual archives and was welcomed by a very friendly staff.  I told them what I was looking for and they helped me find what I needed.  I was looking for a will from Washtenaw county for a friend who lives in the Seattle area.  They walked me through finding the microfiche needed to get the record number.  There was some paper work to fill out requesting the record.  They pulled the record for me.  They deliver it to your table.  I looked at it to make sure it was the right record and requested copies of it.  They do all copying.  The first 11 copies are free; and then it is $.20 a copy.  You pay for the copies at the entrance where the check in is.

Next, I wanted to find a naturalization record for Marquette county.  Even though I had the volume and record number, I had to look up in a binder for more accurate information.  The volume numbers on the microfilm are different from the volume number of the record.  A staff member walked me through this and pulled the microfilm.  I found the page, printed it and was done.  A very easy process.

I thought I would end my day at the Archives, but as it didn't take very long, only about 45 minutes, I decided to head back to the library.  I spent another hour looking at railroad books, one specifically about the Duluth, South Shore and Atlantic railroad, which my great grandfather was an engineer for. 

All in all I had a very productive day.  I found nine obituaries, six wedding/anniversaries and four other articles.  I had six negative obituary searches.  I found lots of other information from the books I looked in.  I am so glad I took advantage of this wonderful genealogy resource right in my home state.  If you are ever in the Lansing, Michigan area, stop and see the Library of Michigan and/or Archives.  It is worth it.

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