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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, 13 June 2015 (1:30-3:00 p.m.)

Civil War Memories in Bronze, White Bronze, and Stone

Presenter: Bruce B. Butgereit

The belief that the deeds and sacrifice of the soldiers serving in the Civil War deserved to be preserved for future generations began in Grand Rapids in 1864, before the war was over. This program will take you on a tour of the many Civil War and Grand Army of the Republic memorials created in the Grand Rapids area from 1885 to 2014.

Nearly every resident knows of the Kent County Civil War Monument at the corner of Fulton and Division. When asked how many other such memorials exist in the Grand Rapids area, some have guess three or four. Do you know? You will after this program!

Bruce B. Butgereit serves as the Civil War Memorials Officer for both the local Gen. John A. Logan Camp No. 1 and the Department of Michigan, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. During his two terms as National Civil War Memorials Officer for the Sons of Union Veterans, Bruce created a handbook of instruction to provide guidance for all memorial officers in fulfilling their obligations. He is recognized in Michigan and elsewhere for his knowledge regarding the Civil War and his efforts to preserve and restore these public memories of the men and women of 1861-1865 and the Grand Army of the Republic.


mini class - Coming to America – Immigration Records

12 NOON - 1:00 p.m. SATURDAY, 13 June

With so many immigrants entering the United States in the 1800's, Congress passed the first federal law regulating immigration in 1882. Nine years later, in 1891, the Superintendent of Immigration was established. Then in 1906, this became the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization. Immigration records can fill in crucial details of your family’s history. Look at passenger lists and records to understand your ancestors’ trip, from the other side of the pond, to America. Also learn about the challenges in finding passenger ship records.

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



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). The first meeting will be 18 June 2015 at 7p.m.

In June Lisa Christensen will give a presentation showing the interaction of pedigree and descendant charts with Y-DNA (male) and mtDNA (mitochondrial - female), and an introduction to autosomal DNA (atDNA).

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

WMGS Classes

Tuesday, 23 June

Find your way around the Cemetery (Note Location below*)

6:30 PM – 8:30 PM - Tuesday, 23 June

This class is about enjoying cemeteries, finding particular graves, the pitfalls of headstone photography, dealing with difficult to read headstones, indexing a cemetery and the general tools a cemetery wanderer may need when visiting grave sites. Please bring a clipboard-like device to hold papers and take notes.

*Location: Greenwood Cemetery, off of Leonard street NW, take first road to right to top of hill.
Instructors: Kathy Cook and Bill Grinstead; any questions please call 616-240-1579



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.

Make sure to put that on your calendar!



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

June 16: Which smell if you smell it today takes you straight back to your childhood? Why??

July 21: Describe how an historic event impacted you, your ancestors or both.

August 18 : When you walked into school, what and who did you see, what did you hear, and what did you smell? (What memories are triggered by your senses?)

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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