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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 12

Topic: Going the Extra Mile-How to make the most of your hometown genealogy and historical societies

Presenter: Maureen Nelson

Maureen will highlight some of the smaller groups to the north of Kent County and ways you can help your local group. Maureen is the President of the Mecosta Co. Genealogical Society in Big Rapids and enjoys "digging deeper" to find some things that you might not find so easily.

Maureen Doyle Nelson was gathering her family’s history even before she “crashed” a family reunion in Ontario, Canada in 1998. Finding the Canada link to her ancestors from Ireland really sparked her interest though. She volunteers at the Mecosta County Genealogical Society in Big Rapids, MI. Her most rewarding job is running the Pioneer Certificate program for the group, and helping to answer inquiries from around the country. When not working full time for her father’s family business, she loves to get the community interested in the genealogy group and encourage them to come in and donate their family histories.

Mini-Class Saturday, September 12th Noon – 1:00 PM

Just Starting Genealogy?: Don’t know where to start? Learn basic beginning genealogical research skills to help investigate your own family tree. Check your home for documents & photos – what to look for, plus talking to relatives – what to ask.
Instructor: Linda Guth
Location: Grand Rapids Public Library, Adult Computer Training Center, lower level.

Saturday, October 3

Topic: Defective, Dependent, and Delinquent: Researching Ancestors in Michigan Poorhouses

Presenter: Adam Oster

Long before the advent of modern social welfare, Michigan county governments utilized poorhouses to support an area’s poor, elderly and indigent population. Explore the early history and evolution of Michigan Poor Law. Discover research strategies for tracing poorhouse inmates as well as see examples of relevant documents.

Adam Oster is a librarian at the Kentwood (Richard L. Root) Branch of Kent District Library. His responsibilities include providing reference services, readers advisory, outreach as well as computer class design and instruction. Adam holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from Grand Valley State University with a minor in Political Science and Secondary Education Certification. He also has a Master of Library Science degree from Indiana University. Adam’s interests include genealogy and local history research.

Mini-Class Saturday, October 3rd Noon – 1:00 PM

Research Analysis Sheet: This class will illustrate the hands on method that I have developed over the years to resolve issues and confirm evidence. The Research Analysis Sheet is a versatile grid used to contrast and compare information, ferret out impossible issues and confirm the validity of information. This cognitive map allows the researcher to spot a possible place to bang away at a brick wall.
Instructor: Shirley DeBoer
Location: Grand Rapids Public Library, Adult Computer Training Center, lower level.


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

The newly formed Western Michigan Genealogical Society DNA Interest Group (DIG) will meet on the 3rd Thursday of the month in the Vander Veen Center for the Book (on the 4th floor of the Grand Rapids Public Library). Meetings are held 7p.m.


Any questions please contact Roger Moffat - DataMaster@wmgs.org

WMGS Classes

2 Hour Class Monday, September 21st 6:30PM – 8:30PM

Genealogical Forms: Every family historian needs certain worksheets & forms for tracking relatives and research progress. Learn how to use these basic genealogical forms.
Instructor: Wanda Schottler
Location: Grand Rapids Public Library, Adult Computer Training Center, lower level.

2 Hour Class Monday, October 19th 6:30PM – 8:30PM

Record Types: Learn what they may provide and where to find them. Record Examples: Census, Military, Immigration, Land, Death & Cemetery Records.
Instructor: Linda Guth
Location: Grand Rapids Public Library, Adult Computer Training Center, lower level.



Allen County Public Library

Western Michigan Genealogical Society’s
Bus Trip to Fort Wayne’s
Allen County Public Library
The next Bus Trip is scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, November 17 & 18.

Registration Form is available now. Download the FORM



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 2015

September 15: Who was your favorite author when you were a child? Why?

October 20: Memories of Autumn.

November 17: The best Thanksgiving ever.

It is requested to call Sister Michael Ellen Carling at 616-514-3340 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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