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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, 8 November, 2014 (Second Saturday rather than the normal day; due to the Day of the Dead celebrations at the Library)

Becoming American: Research with Naturalization Records

Presenter: Kris Rzepczynski

Although one of the most important tools in family history research, naturalization records can often be very difficult to locate. This program will explore naturalization records, the many tools available to assist you in your research, and successful strategies to locate citizenship records, utilizing both online and print resources.

Currently a Senior Archivist at the Archives of Michigan, Kris previously worked for 12 years at the Library of Michigan as the Michigan/Genealogy Coordinator. He holds a Masters in Library and Information Science from Wayne State University, a Master of Arts in History from Western Michigan University, and a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Michigan. Kris has presented at national, state, and local conferences, including the National Genealogical Society, Federation of Genealogical Societies, Ohio Genealogical Society, Public Library Association, Historical Society of Michigan, Michigan Library Association, and for dozens of local genealogical societies.
In addition, Kris is a member of the Board of Directors for the Federation of Genealogical Societies and a Past President of the Mid-Michigan Genealogical Society. His memberships also include the Association of Professional Genealogists, Polish Genealogical Society of Michigan, and Historical Society of Michigan. Kris W. Rzepczynski, MLS, MA


mini class - Preserving Newspaper Clippings

For many people, newspaper clippings are a significant part of their personal heritage. However, newspapers are some of the most difficult of documents to preserve. They are printed on very low quality wood pulp paper that is extremely high in acid content, use poor quality inks, yellow quickly and are not meant to last forever. This class will show you some things that can be done to prolong the life of your newspaper clippings.

Instructor: Bonnie Woodman

Held in the Grand Rapids Public Library, Adult Computer Lab, Lower Level 12 noon - 1:15 pm

Saturday, 1 December, 2014


Presenter: TBD


mini class - TBD

WMGS Classes

Thursday, 9 October

Polish Research

6:45 PM - 8:45 PM - Thursday 9 October

Research your Polish family history by exploring genealogy and family history databases, historical records, maps, documents, cemetery burials, records from Polish churches, and more. Live Webinar by Ceil Wendt Jensen. Ceil Jensen has thirty years teaching experience and is currently the Director of the Polonica American Research Institute. Her presentation is not to be missed. Class will be held in the Adult Computer Lab, Lower Level, at the Grand Rapids Public Library.

Class held in the Adult Computer Lab, Lower Level, at the Grand Rapids Public Library.

Location: 111 Library St. NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Wednesday, 12 November

Understanding and Using US Census Records

6:30 PM - 8:30 PM - Wednesday 12 November

Understanding and Using US Census Records: Census records offer a wealth of information to the genealogical researcher. Learn how to access, use and understand US Census records to aide in your genealogical research. Instructor: Bill Grinstead.

Class held in the Adult Computer Lab, Lower Level, at the Grand Rapids Public Library

Monday, 1 December

Researching Catholic Records

6:30 PM - 8:30 PM - Monday, 1 December

Father Dennis Morrow, Pastor of SS. Peter & Paul Church and Archivist of the Diocese of Grand Rapids, knows where many bones are buried! He is happy to help introduce researchers to the best procedures and etiquette to use to gain access to records which might be of use to them in seeking family information. Parish and institutional sacramental records, cemetery records, where to look, where not to bother looking, why the very item that I'm looking for can't be found, ethnic concerns, all will be on the table for presentation, discussion, and lots of entertaining questions.

Class will be held in the Adult Computer Lab, Lower Level, at the Grand Rapids Public Library.

Location: 111 Library St. NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503



Allen County Public Library

Western Michigan Genealogical Society’s
Bus Trip to Fort Wayne’s
Allen County Public Library
The Fall 2014 Bus Trip was cancelled. We plan to organize a Spring trip. Stay tuned.


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.

Topics for the year 2014 are:

January: Inside jokes (family, etc.) “When did Harvey get his overcoat?”

February: Bad kitchen experiences

March: Neighbors through the years

April: How has research changed since you first started; what do you like or dislike about the changes?

May: Describe the house you lived in that you liked the best

June: Your greatest success

July: Your worst mistake

August: Favorite custom or tradition

September: How would you like to be remembered?

October: What have you liked the most about getting older?

November: What have you liked the least about getting older?

December: Christmas gathering

It is requested to call Sister Michael Ellen Carling at 616-514-3340 (new phone # as of May 2013) if you wish to attend. Please park in the Dominican Center parking lot which is off Lakeside Drive. Use the lower entrance on the east side of the large portico and go down the steps or the cement ramp to enter the building. The receptionist will direct you to the room.

Everyone is welcome to bring their latest writing project rather than the suggested topic for the meeting. Having a topic helps some of us jog our memories and prods us into making sure we actually write between meetings.

The group provides constructive feedback and everyone benefits.

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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