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October 1, 2017 By: Deidre Denton
31 Days of Detroit Family History Tips
Day 1:
Did you know the Wayne County Record Room (in the basement of the Coleman Building) has an email address ( ) so that you can inquire if your ancestors has any court records, divorce records, etc. You can even order the records through the court (not Vitalchek) and have them electronically delivered within a few days. Even their website seems to be more "research" friendly than a year ago. Happy Hunting! Deidre Erin

Day 2:

As adults, our ancestors traveled wherever they pleased. Not so much as children and teens. Detroit Board of Education & Detroit Public Schools Collection 1860-1980: Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University. (


Day 3:

Most of us have at least one ancestor (or a few) that broke a law or two in our family tree. If this was in Detroit, most likely they had their “day in court” at the Detroit Recorder’s Court. Detroit Recorder’s Court criminal records are held at the Archives of Michigan in Lansing.


Criminal Calendars 1858-1949: Calendars are a record of everything that happened in a given case.


Criminal Journals 1909-1965: Journals are a record of everything that happened in a court on a given day.


Criminal Indexes 1918-1944: Misdemeanor Court Records (1924, 1939-1940)


Day 4:

Always check local libraries for genealogy programs and website links. The Livonia Public Library has quite a genealogy library which includes newspapers, microfilm, and online indexes. Detroit News Obits Index (1980-2001) / Index of Naturalizations through Recorder’s Court (DSGR magazine) / Livonia Observer Obits Index (1955-2014)


Day 5:

Detroit Legal News is an excellent resource for birth information. Hospitals would submit the information when filing a birth certificate with the county. If one or two were missed by the hospital, the county would send them to the newspaper. This paper is also great for locating deaths, probate cases, and property transfers. The Detroit Legal News can be found on microfilm at the Detroit Public Library’s  Burton Historical Collection.


Day 6:

Did you know you can receive free Wayne County death certificates (excluding Detroit deaths) from 1934-1953 if you visit the Burton Historical Collection. You can also order them for $15 and receive a copy in the mail. An index is available on their website at .

Day 7:

Employment records can be a wonderful addition to your family tree. I knew my Great Grandmother worked at Hudson’s for decades and hoped I could find a photo in the Hudson collection at the Burton. While staff records were in another state, the archivist mentioned that they had copies of the employee magazine, The Hudsonian. Luckily they had the issue that mentioned the retirement of my Great Grandma with a small biography and a lovely photograph.


Day 8:

Researching your Polish Detroiters

The Polish Mission has an excellent collection of databases on their ichigan Polish Heritage website that may help you know down some of your toughest brick walls.


Day 9:

The Dibean Michigan Marriage Index

Jack and Marianne Dibean collected Michigan marriage information from various places over the years. Researchers have also sent them their ancestors’ marriage information to be organized into a free index that is available on MIGenWEB.


Day 10:

Northville Historic Records are a wonderful resource that includes newspapers, local records, and cemetery indexes, including news from Detroit and Wayne County going back to 1869.


Day 11:

Did your kin work at Ford Motor Company? Ford Motor Company employee records are housed in the Ford archives. The best way to contact the archives is by email at .


Day 12:

Mt. Elliott Cemetery Association created a free database of burials for the following cemeteries:

*Mt. Olivet Cemetery (Detroit)

*Mt. Elliott Cemetery (largest cemetery in Detroit)

*The Preserve at All Saints (Waterford, Oakland County)

*Guardian Angel Cemetery (Rochester, Oakland County)

*All Saints Cemetery (Waterford, Oakland County)

*Resurrection Cemetery (Clinton Twp, Macomb County)


Day 13:


Day 14:

Think Outside the Box

DetroitYes is a website where all things Detroit have been chatted about in their forum rooms for the last 17 years. Try searching for surnames, places, streets, and events that you are researching. You never know what might pop up.


Day 15:

Have you used eBay for your Detroit genealogy? eBay, one of the world’s largest online marketplaces, is a constantly updating resource for genealogists. Researchers can find Detroit items that were found in personal homes, at garage sales, in basements and attics, storage lockers, etc.


Day 16:

Dead Fred’s Genealogy Photo Archive is a free photo database for genealogy researchers. You can search for photos by surname, location, date, and even by photographer or media type. Researchers can also upload photos to Dead Fred. Currently there are over 200 images for Detroit, with new photos added everyday.


Day 17:

Ontario, Canada was (and still is) a popular place to live, work, vacation, or retire. Windsor obituaries may help you locate soe Detroit ancestors that mysteriously vanished. Windsor Public Library Obituaries



April 1, 2017 By: Karen MacArthur Grizzard
Why You Should Join A Genealogy Society


With more and more resources becoming available online through major genealogy sites, it may seem a bit old-fashioned to join a local genealogy society. But there is great value in seeking out and joining societies that are relevant to your family research. Membership provides funding to organizations that are working to provide their own collections to the masses, whether it be physical copies or digitized for online consumption, there are valuable resources hidden away at local levels that need to see the light of day.

Genealogy societies provide valuable services, often at great expense of time and money, to help the novice and professional researcher alike. Programs, classes, research aids, volunteer look-ups, magazines, and special events are all key components to a local society. Sadly, many societies are suffering from a lack of volunteers, a lack of funding, and a lack of interest in keeping a physical presence in a community. With the ever-growing interest in genealogy research, genealogy societies should be increasing in popularity and support - not decreasing.

Ways You Can Help:

  • Join a society in your area.
  • Join societies that are relevant to your family history research.
  • Volunteer to transcribe records.
  • Volunteer to do local query look-ups.
  • Donate historical resources to societies.
  • Attend programs and special events.
  • Volunteer to be a geni-buddy and help someone else with their research.
  • Donate to a society when they provide free resources to you.
  • Become active and make history come alive for a new generation.