NGS Pre-Conference Tours and Evening Events

NGS will offer a number of pre-conference tours on Tuesday, 1 May 2018 plus Society Night, Host Society Event, and the NGS Banquet during the conference. Pricing for all will be announced in the Registration Brochure on 1 November 2017, and registration will open on 1 December 2017. Events are open to all. Please note that registration for tours close about three weeks before the conference and tickets are not available for purchase at the conference.

Tuesday Pre-Conference Tours

Library of Michigan and Archives of Michigan Research Day (Ten Hours)
After a one-hour bus ride to Lansing, Michigan, you will have approximately seven hours for research at the Library and/or Archives of Michigan. Details about the collections of the two institutions are under Research Facilities below. A box lunch will be provided.

Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park (Four Hours)
Discover the beauty and splendor of thirty acres of botanical gardens and the internationally acclaimed sculpture park. A tram guided tour will be available as well as paths for a leisurely walk around the grounds. Inside you can explore the largest tropical conservancy in Michigan and enjoy the current exhibits. Lunch will be on your own at the Garden Café.

Grand Rapids City Tour (Three Hours)
Explore downtown Grand Rapids and learn the history of the city through an architectural tour of the Heritage Hill District, which has one of the nest concentrations of homes built in the nineteenth- and early-twentieth centuries in Michigan.

Civil War Tour (Three Hours)
The tour will view Grand Rapid’s most signi cant Civil War monuments and will visit gravesites of three Civil War generals in the Fulton Street cemetery. Attendees also will visit the area’s rst Civil War cemetery at Oakhill and will learn about the cemetery’s ongoing genealogy-based project to identify the many “unknown” Civil War soldiers who rest there.

Beer City Ale Trail
On Tuesday evening, enjoy a self-guided walking tour of several breweries in downtown Grand Rapids. The Beer City Ale Trail map will be available at the Hospitality Booth so you can taste some local brews.

Wednesday Evening

Society Night
State and local genealogical and historical societies from Michigan and surrounding states will be available from 5:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m. at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel to answer questions about research resources, publications, and membership. While in the hotel enjoy many examples of award-winning art from eight years of Art Prize, the largest annual judged and voter-participation art competition in the United States.

Thursday Evening

Host Society Event at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum
Visit the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, 303 Pearl Street NW, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49504, from 6:00 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. View the galleries and enjoy dessert and coffee with fellow genealogists while listening to the Schubert Male Chorus, which has been performing since 1883. The museum is a two-block walk across the Grand River. For more details, see

Research Facilities

Numerous research opportunities surround this conference. More information about each facility, including hours of operation and research collection details, can be found on their websites.

Grand Rapids Public Library
111 Library Street NE, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503

The Grand Rapids Public Library is located a few blocks from the conference hotels. The Grand Rapids History & Special Collections department features more than five thousand genealogy and family history books and more than thirty thousand volumes on local, state, and midwestern history. More than 450 archival collections include maps, newspapers, photographs, postcards, scrapbooks, and ephemera relating to the Grand Rapids area. The library is also home to one of the largest collections of books on furniture design in the nation. Genealogy guides and a sampling of the resources are available at

Library of Michigan
Michigan History Center, 702 W. Kalamazoo Street
Lansing, Michigan 48915

The collections include surviving newspapers and city directories for all of Michigan in print and on micro lm, state as well as federal censuses, cemetery records, county histories, plat maps, and much more. For details about the collections, see libraryofmichigan. The Library is open Monday through Friday 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. and Saturday 10:00 a.m.– 4:00 p.m.

Archives of Michigan
Michigan History Center, 702 W. Kalamazoo Street
Lansing, Michigan 48915

Onsite original collections include Michigan naturalization records, probate les, and tax rolls, and the Abrams Foundation Historical Collection, which includes published materials emphasizing the New England, Mid-Atlantic, and Great Lakes states. For research guides and free online content—including death certi cates and state censuses—see Seeking Michigan: The Archives is open Monday through Friday 1:00 p.m.– 5:00 p.m. and Saturday 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.

Other important repositories in the area include:

The Grand Rapids City Archives
223 Washington Street SE, Grand Rapids, MI  49503

The Archives of the Christian Reformed Church in North America

The Joint Archives of Holland, Theil Research Center
9 East 10th Street, Holland, MI 49423

Experience Grand Rapids

Experience Grand Rapids is the official tourism board for Grand Rapids and can assist with any plans you may need to make for your stay.

From the website: “One of The New York Times’ 52 Places to Go in 2016. The #1 U.S. travel destination in 2014. Beer City USA. Home to one of the globe’s top five festivals. Grand Rapids, Michigan is all of this and so much more—a city that will constantly surprise and delight you with authentic and unforgettable world-class experiences made easy, affordable and friendly.”

The Experience Grand Rapids website lists the “Top 10 Reasons to Visit” and includes information on: Arts & Culture, Craft Beer and Beverages, Family, Food & Dining, Music, Outdoor Recreation, Shopping, Sports, Beaches, and Tours & Experiences. In short, something for every member of your family!


Search the Experience Grand Rapids website for the best in restaurants, craft breweries, and farm-to-table cuisine.


Grand Rapids has long been a hub for manufacturing, raw materials, and agriculture. Downtown shops and seasonal markets offer the best of local artisans and designers as well as unique locally-made gifts and farm fresh provisions.


From fly fishing right in downtown Grand Rapids to hiking, biking, and running trails—outdoor activities abound.


Grand Rapids Public Museum
272 Pearl Street NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504 (below from the website)

The Grand Rapids Public Museum has a long history as an educational resource in the community.  Founded in 1854 as the Grand Rapids Lyceum of Natural History, the Museum’s first collections were the “Cabinets of Curiosities” put together by important civic leaders such as John Ball.

The Grand Rapids Public Museum’s main facility is the Van Andel Museum Center located in downtown Grand Rapids. In addition to the Van Andel Museum Center, the GRPM also manages a series of additional sites in and around Grand Rapids:

Community Archives and Research Center, 223 Washington Street SE—The Community Archives and Research Center is a collaborative support facility which houses the historical document and artifact collections of the Grand Rapids Public Museum as well as the Grand Rapids City Archives and Record Center, and many Kent County records. Access by appointment or reserved (paid) tour, please email.

54 Jefferson Street—Completed in 1940 as the headquarters of the Grand Rapids Public Museum, this historic Art-Moderne, WPA-era building is now occupied by the Museum as a  part of the Community Archives and Research Center.

Calkins Law Office, Corner of Washington and State Streets—The Calkins Law Office (1836) is the oldest frame building in the Grand River Valley. This small Greek Revival building is located at the corner of Washington and State Street in southeast Grand Rapids. It was moved to its current location in 1971 and restored in celebration of the nation’s Bicentennial in 1976. Access limited to outside only at this time.

James C. Veen Observatory, 3308 Kissing Rock Avenue SE, Lowell—The Grand Rapids Amateur Astronomical Association’s James C. Veen Observatory is an astronomical education and research center housing several fully equipped telescopes and support facilities. The Grand Rapids Public Museum collaborates with the GRAAA in presenting Veen Observatory Public Nights, and provides ongoing financial and administrative support. Public viewing nights scheduled through the Spring, Summer and Fall, visit for details.

Voight House, 115 College Ave SE. The (1895)—Voigt House, carriage house and grounds are situated in Grand Rapids’ Heritage Hill Historic District, just east of downtown, and serve as a time capsule of the late Victorian period with intact original family furnishings. There is no public access at this time.

Norton Mounds—The 55 acre Norton Mound National Historic Landmark is one of only a few surviving Hopewellian burial mound groups that were once present in the lower Grand River Valley and the only one of which the mounds themselves are still in existence. Originally consisting of 17 burial mounds, it is located on a flood plain of the Grand River a short distance south of the city limits of Grand Rapids. The historical significance of this site was recognized in 1957 when it was listed on the Michigan Register of Historic Sites, and then again in 1965 when it was designated as a National Historic Landmark, and then listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Museum is currently working with community input to develop future plans for respectful preservation of and educational access to the site. Until this important work is completed, all scientific studies throughout the entire Norton Mound Group and its related cultural resources collections will be restricted.

  • Society Night Venue—Amway Grand Hotel (Photo: Amway Grand)
  • Restaurants—Founders Brewing Company (Photo: Experience Grand Rapids)
  • Host Society Event at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum (Photo: Experience Grand Rapids)
  • Laying Water Pipeline Beneath the Grand River, 1886 (Photo: Grand Rapids Historical Commission)
  • Outdoor Activities—Cycling Downtown (Photo: Experience Grand Rapids)
  • Pre-Conference Tours—Library of Michigan and Archives of Michigan Research Day, Lansing, Michigan
  • Outdoor Activities—Fishing in the Grand River, Downtown Grand Rapids (Photo: Experience Grand Rapids)
  • Research Facilities—Grand Rapids Public Library
  • Left: Lake Line interurban, running between Grand Rapids and Muskegon, MI, early 1900s (Photo: Right: "The Loggers," Michigan (Photo: Library of Congress).
  • Pre-Conference Tours—Grand Rapids City Tour, Heritage Hill (Photo: Experience Grand Rapids)

Questions? Contact NGS Registrar Courtney Holmes at [email protected] or refer to FAQs.