Three Key Functions of the Archives of Michigan—Kris Rzepczynski at RootsTech 2019

May 15, 2019  - by 
Harry Houdini with bound hands

At RootsTech 2019, archivist Kris Rzepczynski shared one of his favorite records—the death certificate of Harry Houdini. (See it here.) Because the famous magician died in Detroit, Rzepczynski has access to the document through the Archives of Michigan, a treasure trove of records any family history enthusiast can appreciate.

Rzepczynski, a senior archivist at the Archives of Michigan, spoke during the Access and Preservation Day at RootsTech about this massive repository of records in his presentation “Access and Preservation in Action: The Archives of Michigan and Seeking Michigan.”

Three Key Functions

In his presentation, Rzepczynski explained the three key functions of the Archives of Michigan:

1. The archive is responsible for collecting and preserving important records for the state of Michigan. The collection also includes primary documents from local private individuals and organizations.

2. The Archives of Michigan manages the Abrams Foundation Historical Collection, which provides published genealogical materials for states east of the Mississippi River, including the Great Lakes, New England, Mid-Atlantic, and Southern states. They also service the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

3. The archive’s digital platform, SeekingMichigan.org, provides family historians and others with access to many valuable records, including death records, Civil War service records, GLO plat maps, photographs, and all known surviving state census records. New digitized records are added regularly to the website. Thanks to the support of the Abrams Foundation, SeekingMichigan.org is a free website. It also operates independent of the government. Those who run this platform are currently working with FamilySearch to publish naturalization and probate collections.

A couple looks through an online archive.

Our Success

Rzepczynski attributed the Archives of Michigan’s success to four things: the Abrams Foundation and its contributions, the visionary leadership of the state archivist and other state leaders, relationships with organizations including FamilySearch and the Michigan Genealogical Council, and great records.

“We do everything we can to assist and work with genealogists,” Kris said.


Kris Rzepczynski is a senior archivist at the Archives of Michigan, where he specializes in family history and Michigan research. Rzepczynski has worked in the genealogical community for nearly 20 years. He holds a Master of Library and Information Science degree from Wayne State University and a Master of Arts degree in history from Western Michigan University. He is a former vice president of membership for the Federation of Genealogical Societies and a former president of the Mid-Michigan Genealogical Society.

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