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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.



Our next monthly membership meeting is...

Saturday, November 10  (1:30 p.m.) (Second Saturday)

Tracking a Population:
How the Swedish Lutheran Church kept tabs on everyone in Sweden (and America!)

Presenter: Jill Pearson Reider

Jill Pearson Reider

Don’t you wish you had a continuous record of your ancestors in America instead of a snapshot every ten years and hunting for anything you can find in between to fill in the gaps? Come and find out how the Swedish Lutheran Church kept track of its parishioners from the day they were born until the day they died, including baptisms, marriages, household examinations, moving into and out of the parish, and death. They are a genealogist’s dream come true! You’ll be searching your own family tree hoping to find a Swede in there!

Jill Pearson Reider has been researching her family roots since her twenties. Her mother’s roots are deep in early America with Dutch ancestors who settled in New Amsterdam (Manhattan), Germans who settled in the Germanna Colony in Virginia, as well as many other early 18th century settlers from England and Germany. Her father’s parents both emigrated from Sweden, and she has embraced her Swedish heritage by learning to speak Swedish, learning Scandinavian folk dancing, and researching her Swedish roots in the Swedish church archives and through numerous trips to Sweden to visit with cousins who still live on the family farms. Jill is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Swedish American Heritage Society of West Michigan and a member and volunteer with the Swedish American Museum in Chicago. She is a member of the Western Michigan Genealogical Society and has written numerous articles for the quarterly, Michigana. She enjoys helping others discover their own roots, Swedish or otherwise!

November Mini Class: How to use American Ancestors, online at the library

  • Search a wide range of databases including cemetery records, court and probate records, census lists, and more
  • From the New England Historical Society and primarily searches the whole of the Northeastern United States and Eastern Canada
12 Noon - 1:00 p.m.
Location: Lower Level Adult Computer Lab, Grsand Rapids Public Library
Instructor: Sue Rabick

Saturday, December 1  (1:30 p.m.)

Bringing Your Ancestors to Life with Archival Resources

Presenter: Julie Tabberer 

Julie TabbererDiscover how to use archival collections to go beyond basic facts and dates and learn more about who your ancestors were. Julie Tabberer will illustrate how to think creatively and find primary sources that may contain unexpected information. Archives hold unique and rich material that can be particularly helpful for researching women and people of color. Using the archives at the Grand Rapids Public Library as an example, Julie will give you tips and guidelines for using archival records for genealogy research in any geographic area.

Julie Tabberer is a librarian and head of the Grand Rapids History & Special Collections department at the Grand Rapids Public Library. She holds a Masters Degree in Library and Information Science from Wayne State University. Julie enjoys all things related to local history, especially digging for clues to puzzles. She is passionate about making the story of Grand Rapids available to everyone, and is working on advancing the digital accessibility of the library's archival collections.

Julie's research interests cover a wide range. She is currently attempting to track down her great-great-great grandfather, William Darby, and discover if he came to North America from England or Ireland. Julie also works to uncover the often hidden role of women in Grand Rapids' history, especially in the furniture industry and around Prohibition. In her free time, she and her spouse, Pete, chase after their preschooler while hiking, camping and taking in as much of ArtPrize as possible.

December Mini Class: Topic to be announced

12 Noon - 1:00 p.m.
Location: Lower Level Adult Computer Lab, GRPL
Instructor: Linda Guth

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


Family Tree Maker 2017 Interactive Presentation (via Skype)
Friday, Nov 16th at 3PM

  1. Brief history of Software MacKiev involvement with Family Tree Maker

  2. New features of FTM 2017

    - FamilySync™

    - Photo Darkroom™

    - FamilySearch Integration

    - Color Coding

    - Saved Filtered Lists

    - Sync Weather Report

  3. Moving to FTM 2017

    - Using FTM 2017 for the first timE

    - Upgrading to FTM 2017 from prior version

    - Moving trees over to the new version

  4. FTM 2017 Free Update

    - How to get this and install

    - Who should get this

  5. Family Book Creator Plug in Partner Product

    - Creating Books

  6. Charing Companion 7 - DNA edition

    - How it works with Family Tree Maker

    - DNA chaRRts

  7. Questions & Answers Session

Date / Time:  Friday, Nov 16th at 3PM
Location: VanderVeen Room
Instructor:  Mark Olsen

Bio:   Mark Olsen is the Family Tree Maker Ambassador to historical and genealogical societies around the world working to support their members as they use Family Tree Maker. Mark is a graduate of Brigham Young University and holds a bachelor's degree in Family History with a Spanish records emphasis. He has been working in the genealogy industry since 2007.


Allen County Public Library

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

The Fall 2018 trip is Tuesday and Wednesday, November 13-14. 

Registration information is available HERE!


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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