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Grand Rapids Michigan Family History Center

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FamilySearch This article describes the services and resources available at a Family History Center, a branch facility of the Family History Library.


Grand Rapids FHC workstations
Grand Rapids FHC readers

Center Contacts and Hours[edit | edit source]

Location Map: Location Map

Address: 2780 Leonard NE Grand Rapids MI 48525-5825 United States

Phone: 1-616-949-3343

E-mail: MI_GrandRapids@ldsmail.net

Open Hours:[edit | edit source]

Tuesday : 9:00 a.m.- 8:00 p.m. [edit | edit source]

Wednesday : 6-8 p.m.[edit | edit source]

  • Always call to make sure we are open,  especially during questionable weather or flu season.
  • To make an appointment for other times, call in advance. Weekday appointment: Please call 616-334-0249 - Susan Robinaugh. Saturday appointment: Please call Wayne Goates 541-908-0605

Holiday Schedule: We will be closed the following holidays for 2019:     

Easter                      Wed Apr 18 - Fri Apr 29, 2019

Memorial day                 Wed May 23 - Fri Jun 3, 2019

Independence Day         Wed Jun 27 -   Mon Jul 8, 2019

Labor Day                      Wed Aug 29 - Fri Sep 9, 2019

Thanksgiving                 Wed Nov 21 - Mon Dec 2, 2019

Christmas/New Year     Wed Dec 19, 2019 - Mon Jan 6, 2020


WE RECOMMEND THAT YOU CALL TO MAKE SURE WE ARE OPEN! 616-949-3343[edit | edit source]

Staff at the Grand Rapids Family History Center will willingly help any patron learn to find their own genealogy. However, we are not professional genealogists. There are professionals in the Grand Rapids area who will provide their services for a fee. The Western Michigan Genealogical Society has staff that can also help beginners. WMGS is located at the Grand Rapids Public Library.[edit | edit source]

PLEASE NOTE: Familysearch.org is free to Family History Center patrons; however, it requires a log-in to search the website. Please call the local Family History Center if you have any concerns.[edit | edit source]

CALENDAR AND EVENTS:[edit | edit source]

Upcoming Events ...[edit | edit source]

Tentative Staff Training Meeting scheduled for Sunday, June 9 at 5 p.m.


Center Resources[edit | edit source]

Collections[edit | edit source]

  • FamilySearch Catalog: FamilySearch made a change in 2017 and films are no longer being ordered and sent to the Family History Centers. Many of the films that FamilySearch has have been digitized and the others are in the process. At this time, check on FamilySearch Catalog to see if the film you are looking for has been digitized. From home, search FamilySearch Catalog for films as usual. Most images found on FamilySearch can be printed or saved to a thumb drive. Some films, however, must be viewed at an Family History Center only. But we find that these film images can also be printed or saved.
  • POLISH COLLECTION - Films previously ordered by patrons that are here on a permanent basis. A listing of these films is available.
  • MICHIGAN COLLECTION - Films previously ordered by patrons about some Michigan cities/counties. A listing of these films is available.

Databases and Software[edit | edit source]

FHC Portal This center has access to the Family History Center Portal page which gives free access in the center to premium family history software and websites that generally charge for subscriptions.  These premium subscriptions are:
  • 19th Century British Library Newspaper Digital Archive - This fully searchable database of the British Library's newspaper holdings provides a complete run of 48 national and regional Victorian British newspapers for the 19th century from 1800 to 1900. These support the study of colonial history, genealogical research, politics, urban studies, and media courses.
  • Access Newspaper Archive - "NewspaperArchive.com is the world's largest online newspaper archive. Featuring billions of articles from historical newspapers around the U.S. and the world, NewspaperARCHIVE makes exploring history and genealogy easy and fun. Discover fascinating news in archived newspapers hundreds of years old—including obituaries, birth announcements, sports articles, comics, and more—to fill in the life stories you are interested in. And share those stories with others through our community at Our NewspaperARCHIVE. All of our historical newspapers are full-page and fully searchable. Try exploring above, and discover your history today!"
  • Alexander Street Press - The American Civil War Research Data: Contains indexed, searchable information on over 4 million soldiers and thousands of battles, together with 15,000 photographs. Letters and Diaries: Contains approximately 100,000 indexed pages of diaries, letters, and memoirs, including 4,000 pages of previously unpublished manuscripts, such as the letters of Amos Wood and his wife and the diary of Maryland planter William Claytor. Images, Photographs, Posters, and Ephemera: Provides a vivid history of the American Civil War with over 1,400 images. Social and Cultural History: Personal accounts of well-known historical figures. Women and Social Movements in the United States: Organized around the history of women in social movements in the United States between 1600 and 2000 A.D.
  • Ancestry.com [world explorer subscription with access to all U.S. & international records on Ancestry] - Ancestry gives you access to thousands of collections of records from around the world, including immigration, census, voter, vital, and military records; newspapers and periodicals; family trees; photos and images; directories, maps, court, land, wills and financial records, stories, memories, and histories; and detailed records about births, marriages, deaths, land ownership, and much more. It is the largest for-profit genealogy company in the world.
  • ArkivDigital Online - ArkivDigital is the largest private provider of Swedish Church Records and other historical records online! All images are newly photographed color images of the original documents. Click the link form the Premium Family History Websites page to install the current client version of ArkivDigital Online.
  • Create you Who Do You Think You Are? Story - Tell your family story, and bring your past to life. Create your own unique Who Do You Think You Are? experience. Discover what shaped the lives of your family, and watch your story unfold.
  • findmypast - findmypast makes it easy to research your UK ancestry and create your family tree. Search census records and trace births, marriages, and deaths to bring your family history to life. Please note that not all of the content from findmypast is available in family history centers. 1911 British Census (accessed through the findmypast website) –The 1911 UK Census is a record of everyone who lived in England and Wales in 1911. It provides a unique snapshot of the lives of those who lived at that time.
  • Fold3.com (previously known as Footnote.com) - Search or browse millions of historical documents and photos. Fold3 has refocused their efforts on gathering the best online collection of military records and stories. The Fold3 name reflects military history and honor, since traditionally, the third fold in a flag-folding ceremony honors and remembers veterans for their sacrifice in defending their country and promoting peace in the world.
  • Historical Map Works Library Edition - Historic Map Works™ Library Edition is one of the most extensive digital map collections available, with over 470,000 high-resolution, full color historic and antique maps. The core of the collection consists of cadastral (property and land ownership) maps illustrating the geographic and development history of the United States and also includes illustrations, city directories, and more. This unique content allows genealogists, historians, and academic researchers to track the "residential genealogy" of families and locations.
  • Kinpoint Premium - Kinpoint is designed to make it easier for you to do your family history by letting you see what to work on at a glance; quickly find missing information in your family tree; and discover insights into the lives of your ancestors.
  • Legacy Stories - Put the leaves on your family tree by giving voice to your ancestors. LegacyStories.Org is a social network for all things heritage. The site provides a secure platform to upload stories and photos and add recorded narration. The resulting pictures, stories, and narration can be linked as source records on FamilySearch Family Tree. The site offers a full suite of exciting features, including:
    • Record oral photo narratives directly from your computer microphone
    • Multi-media story publisher
    • Social network for feedback and collaboration
    • Public archives to view and share stories
  • MyHeritage - Library Edition - Used by millions of people worldwide to help research family history, build a family tree, and add photos, historical records, and more.
  • Paper Trail - Provides access to 19th century westward American migration documents.
  • ProQuest Obituary Listings - The ProQuest obituaries collection is a premier resource for genealogical and historical research. You can use the collection to search obituaries and death notices from prominent newspapers, such as the New York Times (dating back to 1851). The collection includes both famous and lesser-known individuals and can be searched by name or by keywords appearing in the body of the article.
  • Puzzilla - Find new research opportunities on descendant lines in Family Tree.
  • World Vital Records - Access to birth, marriage, and death records; Social Security Death Index; family trees; census records; immigration records; court, land, and probate records; military records directory lists; newspapers, family histories, reference materials, biographies, wills, gravestone photos, ship manifests, map collections, and yearbook collections. Proper log-in through the portal is confirmed by a "Welcome Family History Center Patron!" banner on the web page.
  • Digital Images on FamilySearch.org - some films have been digitized but the digital images can only be viewed at Family History Centers due to copyright or contractural constraints.

Hardware and Equipment[edit | edit source]

5 DELL Optiplex computers for patron use in the Family History Center.

Lexmark Printer/Scanner (black/white) that can scan and post photos and documents directly to your FamilySearch Tree.

1 Film reader to view film.

A camera that can be used to make photos of items found on film, then can be saved to a computer with memory stick.


Resources in the Local Area[edit | edit source]

Western Michigan Genealogical Society located at the Grand Rapids Public Library, 111 Library St NE, Grand Rapids MI 49503. The website is www.wmgs.org.


Links[edit | edit source]


Volunteer at the Center[edit | edit source]

We would like to invite members in the community to volunteer at the Grand Rapid Family History Center. If you are interested, please leave a message for Susan Robinaugh (616-334-0249)