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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, 7 February 2015 (1:30-3:00 p.m.)

Exploring Family Search

Presenters: John and Aloma Custer

In this class we will give a short history of how FamilySearch got started which will give the audience an appreciation of what is available through the FamilySearch website. We will also cover how to find and order microfilm using FamilySearch if the information has not been digitized.
The presentation will include an overview of FamilySearch/Tree: Navigation of the website; functions of the Menu Bars; using the source box and attaching to your tree; and adding memories. We will leave time for Q&A at the end of the presentation.

Speaker Information:
Aloma was born & raised on a small farm in Firth, Idaho. Her parents were both active in Genealogical Research. Her father submitted articles to the “Genealogical Helper” & the local newspaper. Aloma grew up writing Pedigree Charts & Family Group Records by hand & oh, what excitement when we got a “Long Carriage typewriter” for the Long Forms. Now, it’s the computer age and we have a new Family Search which makes life much easier. John & Aloma visited Martha’s Vineyard & walked among gravesites of relatives her parent’s had researched. She remembers the –indescribable- feeling that she knew these people as a result of the research her parents shared with her. Aloma served as a Family History Librarian in Morris Illinois and also in St. Joseph, MI for about 10 years. She has served as the Pres. of Berrien Co. Genealogical Society for 6 years and is currently serving as Vice President for the Society.

John’s family had no significant interest in genealogy. Aloma introduced John to genealogy soon after they were married and now he spends time researching his family and visiting living relatives to update his charts with cousins and collecting stories of his relatives. He has served as a Family History Librarian for several years also.

In 2011 John & Aloma were called to serve as Area Family History Advisors for the Lansing Area Council and they have the responsibility of Promoting Family History for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints throughout most of Michigan.

Now both are retired and they spend time traveling and visiting family. They have been known to occasionally stop at small cemeteries in their travels - just because they are there. They now like to refer to cemeteries as “Genealogical Sites”.

mini class - Researching Your Ancestor’s Property

12 NOON - 1:00 p.m.

A county Register of Deeds Office records all documents pertaining to real property. Kent County’s documents can help trace the history of property ownership or the movement of ancestors around the county. Kent’s documents are imaged back to 1970, indexed back to 1837, with all documents available on microfilm back to 1850.

Instructor: Mary Hollinrake, Kent County Clerk and/or Jerry Czaja, Chief Deputy Register of Deeds

Class will be held in the Adult Computer Lab, Lower Level.
Location: 111 Library Street Northeast, Grand Rapids, MI 49503, USA


Saturday, 7 March 2015 (1:30-3:00 p.m.)

The Lines that Define: the Boundaries of our State, Counties, Townships, Villages and Cities

Presenters: Morris O. Thomas

The various geo-political units such as states, counties, townships, villages and cities all have boundaries which influence our history and quality of life. This presentation will examine some of the origins and impacts of the many lines on maps that create a cultural and historical legacy in Michigan.

Speaker Information:
Morris O. Thomas is a Visiting Professor of Geography at Michigan State University. He has taught many classes including the Geography of United States and Canada and the Geography of Michigan. He has given many presentations for various organizations. Morris has received numerous awards including the Distinguished Teaching Achievement Award from National Council for Geographic Education in 2008.


mini class - tbd

12 NOON - 1:00 p.m.

Topic to be announced.

Class will be held in the Adult Computer Lab, Lower Level.
Location: 111 Library Street Northeast, Grand Rapids, MI 49503, USA


WMGS Classes

Thursday, 22 January

Introduction to Family Tree Builder software by MyHeritage

6:30 PM - 8:30 PM - Thursday 22 January

Learn how to install Family Tree Builder software (for Windows) on your computer and start building your family tree. We’ll also take a glimpse into the many features this software provides. Instructor is Linda Guth.

Class location: Adult Computer Lab, Lower Level, at the Grand Rapids Public Library

Thursday, 25 February

Googling Your Ancestors

6:30 PM - 8:30 PM - Thursday 25 February

Have you tried to find your ancestor on the internet? If so, you might have had thousands of results, most of which did not apply to your genealogy. Since Google started in 1998, it has changed the way people search the internet. Today, many genealogists use this search engine in researching people in their family tree. However, it has evolved over the years and the tips & tricks have changed also. In this class, learn the many possibilities that Google offers for genealogy searching.

Class will be held in the Youth Computer Training Center on the 2nd level, at the Grand Rapids Public Library. 111 Library St. NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503.
Instructors: Bonnie Woodman & Katie Nedwick




Allen County Public Library

Western Michigan Genealogical Society’s
Bus Trip to Fort Wayne’s
Allen County Public Library
We are planning our 2015 Spring trip for Wednesday & Thursday, April 22 and 23. Stay tuned for Details!


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

January: Describe a typical family meal during your childhood. Who, what, when and where?

February: If you could take one last trip - where would you go, what would you do, and who would you go with?

March: Are you an optimist or a pessimist? What makes you this way?

April: What are the most important books that you have read? How did they change your life?

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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