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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. Looking at a genealogical book on the internet?  See if it’s for sale at the WMGS sales table.  Our books are sold for same price as the Internet….but at our sales table and as a member of WMGS that same book has a 10% discount and you don’t pay for shipping.  Talk to Lisa and Wanda about items you don’t see. 

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, December 7 (1:30 p.m.)

1000 Photographs; A Visual Journey of Family Roots

Presenter: George A. Bayard III

George A Bayard IIIIn the mid-1980s my grandmother became ill and I moved into her house. She never threw away anything, so I discovered all kinds of artifacts, clothes, furniture squirreled away in her home. Most of all, boxes and boxes of family photographs, a rarity for a poor, African American family. As an art collector myself, I was amazed at this find and eager to start connecting images to the names in my tree. Unfortunately, she passed away before I could have her identify the many pictures and my dad and uncle were no help at all. Out of the 1000s of photographs, only about 100 are identified so my journey began to give this diverse group of images some context to my own genealogy and family folklore. 

I examine the breakthroughs and roadblocks to tag some wonderful images. A few are famous, others are unknown everyday folks. I will share the pictures and tell what I’ve found out about them and how my search is a continuing journey.

George A. Bayard III started Bayard Art Consulting in 1989. That business evolved into Bayard Gallery of Fine African American Art & Books which also fed our desire to collect Black history.  

George has owned West Michigan’s oldest gallery devoted to artists of color for 30 years. An Art Education major from the University of Delaware, George became regional manager of Philadelphia’s largest picture frame chain before moving to Michigan.

Currently, George is the founder and Executive Director of GRAAMA, the Grand Rapids African American Museum and Archives. This 5-year journey has culminated with Grand Rapids only museum devoted to Black history, culture, education, and community. 

George is a 2019 Baxter and ArtPrize award winner, professional picture framer, conservator, appraiser, artist, lecturer, collector, historian, film maker, and writer.

Mini-Class: Ancestry DNA Results for Beginners

Autosomal DNA, centimorgans, Shared Matches, ThruLines, green leaves, ..oh my! DNA vocabulary, tools, symbols and test results can be overwhelming and confusing to new testers. This class will use examples from Ancestry DNA test results to teach beginners how to get useful genealogical information from their results.

12 Noon - 1:00 p.m.

Location: Lower Level Adult Computer Lab, GRPL
Instructor: Linda Guth

Saturday, January 4 (1:30 p.m.)

Michigan Online: Family History Tools for the Great Lakes State

Presenter: Kris Rzepczynski

Kris RThis session will explore key Michigan online genealogy resources, including both popular and lesser-known sites, as well as effective search strategies for Michigan research.

A Senior Archivist at the Archives of Michigan, where he specializes in family history and Michigan research, Kris has worked in the genealogical community for nearly 20 years. He holds a Master of Library and Information Science from Wayne State University and a Master of Arts in History from Western Michigan University. Kris has presented at national, state, and local conferences, including the Federation of Genealogical Societies, National Genealogical Society, Ohio Genealogical Society, Historical Society of Michigan, Indiana Historical Society, and for dozens of local genealogical societies and public libraries.

A former Vice-President of Membership for the Federation of Genealogical Societies and a former President of the Mid-Michigan Genealogical Society, his current memberships include the Association of Professional Genealogists, Polish Genealogical Society of Michigan, Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society, and Historical Society of Michigan.

Kris W. Rzepczynski, MLIS, MA

Mini-Class: 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


Two-Hour classes

Tuesday, December 10

Genealogy Christmas Gift Ideas

Feel free to bring samples of your own gift ideas.

VanderVeen Room, 4th Floor
6:30PM - 8:30 PM.

Instructor: Linda Guth


Allen County Public Library

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

Fall trip Is History.  Will History Repeat? Watch  for a Spring trip announcement.


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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