05 February 2020

Michigan University Libraries and Genealogy

Photography by Brenda Leyndyke

Many posts have been written about the genealogical treasures found in local libraries, but are you using university libraries in your research? I have written about the Bentley Library in Ann Arbor, MI on the campus of the University of Michigan and the great records I found there earlier. Michigan is home to many university libraries that can further one's family history.

University of Michigan: The U of M has the Hatcher Graduate Library. It has sources of genealogical related information, including Biographical Resources, Census Resources, Databases, News and Periodicals, Maps, Atlases, and Gazetteers, Court Records, Immigration and Ethnic, Local History and more. Their materials can be print ones and online ones. It is worth taking a look at their website to see if they have what you are looking for. The University of Michigan's card catalog can be searched for all U of M's libraries.

University of Michigan: The William L. Clements Library on the campus of the U of M is another resource for researchers. It has a few rules you must follow so check out the "Plan Your Visit" section online. All users must register in advance and making an appointment is encouraged. The strength of the Clements Library lies in its collection of 18th and 19th Century American History. It includes books, manuscripts, maps, digitized collections, and more. The manuscript collection is over 2700 items and includes diaries, family and personal papers, military records, journals, school notebooks, business records and more. A few subject guides are available.

Michigan State University: The Main Library at MSU has online databases, Michigan county histories, maps, and more. MSU has a special digitization project called "Making of Modern Michigan", it includes photographs, family papers, oral histories, and genealogical materials for researchers. A research guide on Genealogy and Family History is available. You can search their card catalog too.

Central Michigan Univeristy: Clarke Historical Library on the campus of Central Michigan University , Mt. Pleasant, MI is a regional depository for the Archives of Michigan. Its strengths include Native American history, Old Northwest Territory collections, and 20th Century history. It covers the counties of Clare, Gladwin, Gratiot, Isabella and Midland. Clarke is a closed stack library, meaning you are not allowed to browse the stacks, you have to ask for the material you need. Planning for a visit by using their card catalog will make your visit go smoother. CMU is home to the Digital Michigan Newspaper Portal which provides free access to Michigan newspapers. Yes, I said free! Just this week, CMU announced that Hazel Park, MI will be the recipient of the latest digitization grant.

Western Michigan University: Charles C. and Lynn L. Zhang Legacy Collection Center on the campus of Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI is another archives depository and covers the southwest Michigan counties of Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo, Kent, Muskegon, Ottawa, St. Joseph, and Van Buren. This library is an open stacks library. Manuscripts, governmental records, business records, WMU historical records, diaries, journals, and county records can be found in this collection. Check their finding aids.

Michigan Technological University: The J. Robert Van Pelt Library, Houghton, MI covers some of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan including the counties of Baraga, Gogebic, Houghton, Iron, Keweenaw, and Ontonagon. Their strengths include mining company history, Great Lakes research, and Copper Country Historical Images, some of the images are available online. A Guide to Researching Genealogical Sources is available.

Northern Michigan University: Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives, Marquette, MI covers the counties of Alger, Delta, Dickinson, Marquette, Menominee, and Schoolcraft counties. Their strength lies in local government records, local history, and mining records. A finding aid ArchivesSpace can help one find materials.  The Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Mining Company Historical Record Digitizing Project is one to check out for mining ancestors.

Use your local libraries in the area you are researching but remember that university libraries can provide genealogical researcher new resources to check.

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