The WESTERN MICHIGAN GENEALOGY SOCIETY in Booth 312 offers current and applicable books by a variety of authors and publishers. Also, charts, maps, research forms, Quik Sheets, and supplies for any level family researcher. Booth personnel will also be available for assistance with our databases. WMGS is dedicated to gaining knowledge, teaching others about genealogy and family history, and preserving genealogical records
In the early 1950s the Detroit Society for Genealogical Research (DSGR) was the only organization in Michigan focusing on Family History. In 1954, when DSGR members Lance and Mildred Adams moved to Grand Rapids, they organized WMGS with the help of Mrs. L. Charles Rowley, Mrs. John Quartell, Dr. Ethel Williams and her husband, E. Gray Williams. Early WMGS meetings were attended by 12 to 15 members and were held in Ruth Thorndill’s home. Michigana, the Society’s quarterly 40 page magazine began as a one page newsletter; Dr. Ethel Williams suggested the name.
Membership has grown to well over 400. Meetings are held in the Grand Rapids Public Library Auditorium and are regularly attended by over 65 people and include programs on a wide range of genealogical and historical subjects. Nationally known speakers present at our annual “GotAncestors” seminars each fall in Grand Rapids.
The Local History and Genealogical collection is held in the Main Branch of the Grand Rapids Public Library. The strength of the genealogical holdings is the Michigan Historical Collection, which covers all of Michigan with a strong emphasis on western Michigan.
The collection also includes materials on New England, other colonial states, and the Western Reserve states. Most of the major periodicals and bound archival or state papers are here, plus many printed census indexes and the entire Federal census for the state of Michigan. Numerous published family genealogies are also available. We are proud of the many volunteers who have worked diligently to make the collection in the Grand Rapids Public Library one of the largest in the state; as well as our award winning website for genealogists and historians to freely access.