07 January 2020

Tips and Tricks for Using Michiganology

If you have Michigan research to do, you may have heard about the new database website of the Archives of Michigan, Michiganology. It is found at michiganology.org. The .org is important. The .com website is an online store and you will find puzzles here, but no genealogically related records.

Michiganology's mission, as stated on its website, is to foster curiosity, enjoyment, and inspiration rooted in Michigan stories.  Michiganology replaces Seeking Michigan as the place to go for your Michigan research needs. Seeking Michigan had about 1 million records available and Michiganology has more than 10 million and it has room to grow.

Before I dig into what Michiganology has to offer I would like to tell you a little of its back story. The overhaul of Seeking Michigan began a few years ago. The staff of the Archives of Michigan worked hard to develop a website that would grow with their digitization efforts. The staff wanted one place to house all the current and future information, developing a brand so to speak. Seeking Michigan parameters would not allow them to do this, so a new website was planned. Michigan government doesn't have a designated department to help state entities develop such a website. The Archives of Michigan contracted with a company to help them through this process. I am President of the Michigan Genealogical Council, which has over 75 member societies, and Archivist Kris Rzepczynski and Digital Engagement Archivist Jill Arnold kept the MGC societies up to date on the progress of the new website. MGC members were encouraged to volunteer for the beta testing and many did. Jill Arnold worked tirelessly, and continues to work, to make Michiganology the best it can be.

Future projects in the works include the Michigan Naturalization Project. It is an indexing project of Family Search. If you would like to see these records at Michiganology go grab a batch and index! Seven million records will be added to the Michiganology database upon completion of the naturalization indexing.

Family Search is onsite at the Archives of Michigan digitizing the Probate Records held by the Archives. This is another huge project, but when it is digitized, indexed and uploaded to Michiganology you will be thankful Michigan built a website big enough to house these important genealogical treasures.

Now, the fun part. What is Michiganology?

Michiganology is the online database portal of the Archives of Michigan. The records previously housed at Seeking Michigan are being transferred to Michiganology. This includes:

  • Death certificate images. If a death record is older than 75 years the image of the certificate can be found.
  • Records of Service of Michigan Volunteers in the Civil War, 1861-1865. The 46 volume series is digitized and available for viewing.
  • Civil War Photographs- over 1500 photographs pertaining to Michigan civil war are searchable. Try searching for your Michigan Civil War soldier or unit to see what you can find.
  • Civil War Battle Flags-the flags of the various Michigan civil war units are searchable as well. A search for "Mechanics and Engineers" returns four copyrighted images. 
  • Main Street-collection of photographs and postcards from across Michigan.
Tip 1: Use the advanced search item for Death Records, Main Street Collection, and Map Collection. It can be found on the top right of the web page or after clicking the "Search" tab in the top toolbar. The red box below shows the advanced search feature. Other options include basic and custom. Trust me-advanced search is the way to go.

The screenshot above is from Michiganology.org using the Advanced search function. The left side of the search area has a drop down menu that allows one to narrow their search to death records, Main Streets or Map Collection. I performed a basic surname search of "Glover" and got over 400 items.

Tip 2: Use the "Table" option under the Display menu. The red box above shows where it is located. The table views gives you more information. Table view shows "title/family name" and "description/given name" and "place".  Other options "list" and "grid" will give you just the surname. Again, trust me and use the table display option.

Tip 3: Entering the date can be tricky. For best results, use a date range. If you are looking for a death record that occurred on January 2 1942. Enter a range starting with 01/01/1942 and ending with 01/03/1942.  I have had success using this method. The 1942 death records are some of the newest on the website and I even searched using 01/01/1942 to 12/31/1942 and used the county only search box. In my case, I used "Manistee" as the county. 

As with any new endeavor, especially a website of this magnitude, there will be glitches. I have found the staff of the archives very receptive to my questions. They are not going to change the name of the website so let that one go! The screenshots above were taken on 7 January 2020 and as more records are added may change. 

Michiganology is a great resource for Michigan researchers and is only going to grow and get better. I am looking forward to all that Michiganology has to offer. I hope you will too.


  1. This website is very difficult to use. Bring back seeking Michigan!

  2. I had high hopes for Michiganology, but I have found it to be almost impossible to use other than to scroll through records year by year, looking for my family names (like Leona Liebzeit's baby's death cert.) The search function is "glitchy" to be charitable about it. I tried your method, which strangely was what I had been doing, and it doesn't work for "Thomas Cunningham".

  3. I know they are trying to work on the back end of the site. I would encourage you to keep trying. It is getting better.