Seeking Michigan Becomes Michiganology!

Seeking Michigan Becomes Michiganology!

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If you have Michigan research to do, you may have heard about the new database website of the Archives of Michigan, Michiganology. It is found at michiganology.org. The .org is important. The .com website is an online store and you will find puzzles here, but no genealogically related records.

Michiganology’s mission, as stated on its website, is to foster curiosity, enjoyment, and inspiration rooted in Michigan stories.  Michiganology replaces Seeking Michigan as the place to go for your Michigan research needs. Seeking Michigan had about 1 million records available and Michiganology has more than 10 million and it has room to grow.

Before digging into what Michiganology has to offer, here’s a little of its back story. The overhaul of Seeking Michigan began a few years ago. The staff of the Archives of Michigan worked hard to develop a website that would grow with their digitization efforts. The staff wanted one place to house all the current and future information, developing a brand so to speak. Seeking Michigan parameters would not allow them to do this, so a new website was planned. Michigan government doesn’t have a designated department to help state entities develop such a website. The Archives of Michigan contracted with a company to help them through this process. Archivist Kris Rzepczynski and Digital Engagement Archivist Jill Arnold kept the MGC societies up to date on the progress of the new website. MGC members were encouraged to volunteer for the beta testing and many did. Jill Arnold worked tirelessly, and continues to work, to make Michiganology the best it can be.

Future projects in the works include the Michigan Naturalization Project. It is an indexing project of Family Search. If you would like to see these records at Michiganology, go grab a batch and index! Seven million records will be added to the Michiganology database upon completion of the naturalization indexing.

Family Search is onsite at the Archives of Michigan digitizing the Probate Records held by the Archives. This is another huge project, but when it is digitized, indexed and uploaded to Michiganology you will be thankful Michigan built a website big enough to house these important genealogical treasures.

Now, the fun part. What is Michiganology?

Michiganology is the online database portal of the Archives of Michigan. The records previously housed at Seeking Michigan are being transferred to Michiganology. This includes:

  • Death certificate images. If a death record is older than 75 years, the image of the certificate can be found.
  • Records of Service of Michigan Volunteers in the Civil War, 1861-1865. The 46-volume series is digitized and available for viewing.
  • Civil War Photographs- over 1500 photographs pertaining to Michigan civil war are searchable. Try searching for your Michigan Civil War soldier or unit to see what you can find.
  • Civil War Battle Flags-the flags of the various Michigan civil war units are searchable as well. A search for “Mechanics and Engineers” returns four copyrighted images. 
  • Main Street-collection of photographs and postcards from across Michigan.
  • and more being added.

Tip 1: Use the advanced search item for Death Records, Main Street Collection, and Map Collection. It can be found on the top right of the web page or after clicking the “Search” tab in the top toolbar. The red box below shows the advanced search feature. Other options include basic and custom. Trust me-advanced search is the way to go.

Screenshot - MichiganologyThe screenshot above is from Michiganology.org using the Advanced search function. The left side of the search area has a drop-down menu that allows one to narrow their search to death records, Main Streets or Map Collection. I performed a basic surname search of “Glover” and got over 400 items. You can refine your selection with the box on the left side of the page.

Table screenshot

Tip 2: Use the “Table” option under the Display menu. The red box above shows where it is located. The table view gives you more information. Table view shows “title/family name” and “description/given name” and “place”.  Other options “list” and “grid” will give you just the surname. Again, trust me and use the table display option.

Date screenshot

Tip 3: Entering the date can be tricky. For best results, use a date range. If you are looking for a death record that occurred on January 2, 1942. Enter a range starting with 01/01/1942 and ending with 01/03/1942.  I have had success using this method. The 1942 death records are some of the newest on the website and I even searched using 01/01/1942 to 12/31/1942 and used the county only search box. In my case, I used “Manistee” as the county. 

As with any new endeavor, especially a website of this magnitude, there will be glitches. The staff of the archives very receptive to our questions. They are not going to change the name of the website so let that one go!  For those interested, there is a “Feedback” option in the top left corner of the homepage. The screenshots above were taken on 7 January 2020 and as more records are added may change. 

Michiganology is a great resource for Michigan researchers and is only going to grow and get better. We’re looking forward to all that Michiganology has to offer. 

Written by Brenda Leyndyke, MGC President

What Is A Lock-In? Fall Family History Event Details

What is a Lock-In?

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Frequently Asked Questions about the Archives of Michigan and Library of Michigan Lock-In

What time do I have to research?

The timing is up to you. You can stay for as long as you want during the allotted time.

What is the age range of participants?

Anyone interested in using the Archives of Michigan or Library of Michigan resources can attend. Typically, it is for teens to adults.

What does it cost?

The lock-in is free. You will need to pay for any copies you make.

Is the night structured or can I do my own research?

The time is yours. You can do your own research. No programs are scheduled during this time.

Do I have to choose where I am going to research?

You can travel freely between the Archives and the Library.

How do I sign up?

An option to register is available during the registration process.

Can I bring a guest?

Yes, but all guests must be registered. Unless it is announced ahead of time, there are no walk-ins allowed for the lock-in.

Can I bring food or drink to the lock-in?

Sorry, leave your goodies in the car. No food or drink are allowed in the Library or Archives areas. The snack bar seating area, located at the front entrance, is available from 5-6p.

What do I need to bring to the lock-in?

It is a good idea to bring a list of resources you would like to look up.  http://answercat.org  is the go-to place for inventory of the Library and the Archives.

You will need a research card for the Archives.  If you don’t already have one, you can get it the night of the lock-in. A photo ID is required. There is no cost for this card.

You don’t need anything for the library, but you are welcome to get a library card if you wish.

What if I need help?

The staff of the library and archives are available to answer your questions and help with locating materials. Remember, there are more attendees than staff so be patient.ArchivesReadingRm

DNA Personal Sessions Offered at Fall Family History Event

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Diahan Southard is MGC’s featured speaker on Saturday, November 9 at the MGC Fall Family History Event held at Michigan Library and Historical Center.  She is offering personalized DNA mentoring on Friday, November 8, from 12-5 pm, for an additional cost.  Each personal session will be 20 minutes long and will cost $25.  If you would like to sign up for this personal DNA assistance you can do so at https://www.yourdnaguide.com/mgc 

The 20-minute session can be used in any way you want it to.  Diahan provided some examples of how the time could be spent: login to your testing company, and she will point out the key features of the website and guide you toward your best matches; or answer a specific question you might have; or help you in other ways.  However you choose to use your 20-minutes, you will leave the session with a clear picture of what to do next.

When you come for your session with Diahan, please bring your DNA testing company login information and the question you would like answered.

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Probate Records in Michigan: An Update – Mark Harvey and Kris Rzepczynski, Archives of Michigan

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In November 2017, the Archives of Michigan, together with the State Court Administrator’s Office (SCAO) and representatives from various county probate course, published an updated records retention schedule.  In general terms, and of particular interest to genealogists, historic probate files from all counties in Michigan will now be transferred to the Archives of Michigan after a period of fifty years.

This change in the probate records retention schedule will eventually make for a smooth and consistent transfer of public records with genealogically significant information from across the state to the Archives of Michigan.  The new schedule centralizes the process and puts in one depository – the Archives of Michigan – those historic records that previously had been stored across the state’s eighty-three counties.

Recently, a misunderstanding of the project caused misinformation to spread about the destruction of those same Michigan probate records.  In response, State Archivist Mark Harvey issued a statement.  Please see it here:  Statement from State Archivist

Looking ahead, the SCAO will work more closely with counties to transfer their probate records to the Archives of Michigan, prioritizing those counties that are spending funds on offsite archival storage.

Transferring historic probate records from across the state to the Archives of Michigan, an institution with a history of preservation, public access (online and onsite), and customer services, is a huge victory for the genealogical community, and specifically for records preservation and public access.

Please contact the Archives of Michigan at archives@michigan.gov or (517) 373-1414 with any questions, comments, or concerns.

Thanksgiving and Family Health History

One of the responsibilities of being a genealogist is knowing the health history of your family. Each year since 2004, the Surgeon General of the United States has declared Thanksgiving, “Family Health History Day.”

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Now, when families get together to celebrate Thanksgiving, is the perfect time to talk with our relatives. It is a time to share known health issues that are hereditary. While many diseases and conditions that are inherited may not have a cure, just knowing about them can lead to early treatment and longer and healthier life.

If you have not done so already, please take a few minutes and visit the Surgeon General’s Family Health History Initiative. http://www.hhs.gov/programs/prevention-and-wellness/family-health-history/index.html  Here you will find sample questions to ask your family members and tools to help you evaluate the results to share with your loved ones.

All of us at the Michigan Genealogical Council and our member societies wish you and your family a Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving!