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Western Michigan
Genealogical Society
c/o Grand Rapids
Public Library
111 Library Street NE
Grand Rapids, MI
Email - wmgs@wmgs.org


Meeting Calendar | Genealogy Classes | Writer's Workshops


We meet at 1:30 p.m. in the Ryerson Auditorium of the Grand Rapids Public Library on the first Saturday of the month, September through June. Should the first Saturday fall on a holiday weekend, another day will be scheduled. The June meeting is often times changed to the 2nd Saturday. Unless a special program, each meeting has a one-hour lecture on a genealogy related subject by a knowledgeable speaker. Books and charts are sold at our meetings and a "Hospitality Hour" follows. All meetings are free and open to the public. 

REMINDER: Parking is free at the library on Saturdays. Just make sure you validate your parking exit ticket in the machine in the first floor lobby.

Please review our weather cancellation policy so you'll be aware how we'll inform you when it is necessary to cancel a meeting.



Saturday, September 10th (1:30 p.m.)

Topic: The Book in Each of Us

Presenter: Buck Matthews

This presentation by Buck Matthews emphasizes the importance of preserving our life stories for those who follow us in life. Almost every family has eventually been faced with the task of trying to reconstruct the life journey of some beloved ancestor and hitting the blank wall. Objects and artifacts and keepsakes and old snapshots are relatively easy to discover - but the stories that formed the fabric of their lives are lost forever. It’s imperative for us to be our own researchers, our own chroniclers of the experiences and events that made us who we are. Each of us has lived a life worth remembering. We owe it to our descendants to leave behind the information they’ll need to understand where they came from. Within this presentation is the story of a mysterious little block of wood that belonged to Buck’s paternal grandfather. He discovered that it was an artifact from the 1790 founding of the nation’s new Federal City. It is now in the collection of the Political History Division of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, DC.

Although Buck Matthews has spent more than sixty years in radio and television, he has often thought of himself as a writer who just happened to earn a living in broadcasting. An arts and community service activist, he was awarded the Key to the City by two Grand Rapids mayors and received the Grand Rapids Arts Council’s Festival award in 1982. His "Buck Matthews Show" on WOOD-TV, Grand Rapids, aired nearly two thousand times over a nine-year period and was named the best of its kind in the nation in 1972.

His writing credits include numerous magazine, newspaper, and broadcast commentaries. "Getting Here" is his third book. His mystery novel, "Uncommon Women," is available as an e-book on Amazon Kindle. "Soil, Soul, and Simplicity," the history of Marne United Methodist Church and the village of Marne, Michigan, is available at the church.

A Maryland native and U. S. Air Force veteran, he grew up in Washington, DC, and attended Ohio Wesleyan and Columbia Universities. He and his wife, Thelma, live in Jenison, Michigan. Their son and daughter and one grandson also live in the Grand Rapids area.
And he’s still writing.


Mini-Class Saturday, September 10th (12 Noon – 1:00 p.m.)

KENT COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETIES: Saturday, September 10, 2016 Noon – 1:00 PM
Location: Adult Computer Lab, Lower Level, at the Grand Rapids Public Library
Instructor: Linda Guth

A historical society is an organization dedicated to preserving, collecting, researching, and interpreting historical information or items. Originally, these societies were created as a way to help future generations understand their heritage. Let’s learn about what Historical societies are in Kent County and what they have to offer.


Saturday, October 1st (1:30 p.m.)

Topic: Maps, Gazetteers and Directories

Presenter: Shirley Gage Hodges





Mini-Class Saturday, October 1st (12 Noon – 1:00 p.m.)

WHY JOIN A GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY? Saturday, October 1, 2016 Noon – 1:00 PM
Location: Adult Computer Lab, Lower Level, at the Grand Rapids Public Library
Instructor: Linda Guth

Every genealogical society is different - some are local, some regional, some national, some ethnic, etc. They all offer a range of features and services. Let’s find out what a “typical” Genealogical Society usually offers to it’s members.



Saturday, November 5th (1:30 p.m.)

Topic: Colonial Research in America

Presenter: Karen Krugman

Karen's talk focuses on the colonial era of our country. She'll explore online resources and what to expect when trying to locate colonial era records.


Mini-Class Saturday, November 5th (12 Noon – 1:00 p.m.)

To be announced




By Thorwald at en.wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia) [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Formed in 2015, the Western Michigan Genealogical Society's DNA Interest Group (DIG) meets on the 3rd Thursday of each month in the Grand Rapids Public Library's VanderVeen Center on the 4th floor. Meetings are held 7 p.m.

Questions, comments or program suggestions are welcome! Please contact Roger Moffat - DataMaster@wmgs.org

WMGS Classes

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Location: 4th Floor, VanderVeen Center Conference Room, Grand Rapids Public Library
Instructor: Linda Guth

Genealogical societies provide products and services needed by members, such as education and training, research aid, exchange of knowledge, etc. Let’s learn about what Genealogical / Historical societies are in Michigan and what they have to offer.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Prepare for Allen County Public Library Road Trip: 6:30 - 8:30 PM
Location: Adult Computer Lab, Lower Level, at the Grand Rapids Public Library
Instructor: Sue Irvine

The Allen County Public Library has one of the largest research collections available, incorporating records from around the world. Our presenter will show you how to prepare for research for this awesome WMGS road trip coming up November 16-17.



Allen County Public Library

Western Michigan Genealogical Society’s
Bus Trip to Fort Wayne’s
Allen County Public Library

The Fall Bus trip is scheduled for Wednesday - Thursday, November 16-17, 2016
Full information and Registration is now available. Download this form...

Start now preparing for your research visit at www.genealogycenter.org


The Dominican Center on the corner of East Fulton and Lakeside Drive is the location for WMGS Writers Group workshops. We normally meet 1:30 to 4:45 p.m. the third Tuesday of each month.

We help and support each other's desire to write about our families with a kind eye and lots of humor. Everyone is welcome.

For more details, look here...


Refreshments:   Many WMGS members are great cooks!  They share homemade cookies and other goodies with us during our social time!  Social time for gene-people is as must!  Who else wants to listen to how you found G-G-G Grandpa except another WMGS member?   If you can bring cookies, contact Joann Fast, our Hospitality Chairperson.

WMGS Book Sales:  WMGS stocks quite a large number of new  books and materials for your inspection.  We feel that most people want to browse through genealogy books before they purchase. Valuable genealogy materials are  difficult to find in the normal bookstores.  Got ideas?  Want to help?  Let us know!   Watch for our Christmas Special in December!


  *Includes Kent County and the counties immediately surrounding; namely Ottawa, Muskegon, Newaygo, Montcalm, Ionia, Barry and Allegan Counties. There is some extension beyond these counties into other areas of the Western Lower Peninsula.

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