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Using Seeking Michigan for Research

19 February 2018

The premiere genealogy websites for the state of Michigan is SeekingMichigan.org .  The website is a must use resource for Michigan family history research.

If you are planning on coming to Michigan for the National Genealogical Society's 2018 Family History Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan and have Michigan roots, this is the website to check before you come.

Seeking Michigan is the online platform for the Michigan Historical Center, which houses the Library of Michigan and the Archives of Michigan, as well as a museum and more.  Currently, there are more than a million records online.  This is a continual work in progress with more being added as they become available.

Your starting point for Seeking Michigan.org is at their home page.  There are a couple of different ways to access the materials on the website.  A tutorial is available on how to search, browse, and find materials on the website.  You may want to view the tutorial before starting: http://seekingmichigan.org/about/new-seeking-michigan

Otherwise, you can jump right into it.  Across the top you will see words such as Seek, Discover, Look, Learn, etc.  If you hover your mouse for computer users, or tap the word for tablet or smart phone users, you will see a drop down list of what is available for each section.

Under Seek, the family history researcher will find the following of use:

  • About: general information about Seeking Michigan
  • Guides: specific information on the records at Seeking Michigan, each click will take you to more information
  • Indexes: specific information and access to four index collections: Detroit News Index, Naturalization Index, Military Index, and Photograph Index.
  • Visit: information for those who plan to visit, including hours, location, and what to bring.
  • Contact Us: information that allows one to contact the Archives of Michigan
  • County Clerk: a list of all the counties and where the county clerks are located. 
Under Discover, this is where the records are found!
  • Collections here are:
    • Death Records: 1897-1920
    • Death Records: 1921-1947
    • Death Records: 1948-1952 (Index only)
    • Michigan State Census
    • Main Streets-a collection of photographs from all over Michigan
    • Civil War-a treasure trove of materials from the Archives collection.  Letters, diaries, photographs, volunteer registries, battle flags and more can be found in this section.
The Learn sections is where information on statehood, state Capital, state symbols, Governor's Decision Project, and Museums Programs can be found.

Services is an area where if you are unable to visit the Michigan Historical Center, you can order documents.  A list, including prices, is found here.

If you are looking for a special record, using the advanced search section is best. Click on 'advanced search' in the upper right hand corner of the website.  You will see this:

On the right side is a list of collections.  I find searching one collection at a time works best. Select the collection you would like to search.

Next, enter your search parameters, on the left side of the page. There are many options for searching.  The most used records are the death records.  Here are a few tips for successful death record searching. The arrows under each section will lead to choices for searching.  The field section is where you can search by given name, last name, birth year, death year, county, city, date, age, father's given name, etc or any combination of above.  You can add as many fields as you want.  I have been known to search by county and death year only, and had success because the name was recorded incorrectly.

Death records until 1941, and soon 1942, have the actual image of the death certificate.  You can download a copy to your computer or print it.  1943 to 1952 records will be an index only.  Each year another year of death certificate images is added. 

Using SeekingMichigan.org is a great starting place for Michigan genealogy research.  If you plan on researching in connection with conferencing, check this website out.  It will save you time.


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