WMGS-Blog

Western Michigan Genealogical Society

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From NGS Family History Conference blog:

The National Genealogical Society (NGS) expects as many as 2,000 family historians and professional genealogists will attend its 2018 Family History Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Michigan and other genealogical and historical societies are invited to showcase their organizations at Society Night, an innovative exposition, on Wednesday, 2 May, 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., in the Center Concourse of the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel.

If your Organization is interested, you can make a reservation online. The cost is $50 for a table; sharing with another group is possible. Read more about this!
http://conference.ngsgenealogy.org/society-night/

I Love WritingThe next National Genealogical Society Family History Conference will be right here in Grand Rapids. As the local host society, the Western Michigan Genealogical Society has been preparing in various ways – planning for promotion, assisting NGS staff with local arrangements, and recruiting volunteers. One of our values is partnering with people and organizations from all over Michigan and the Great Lakes region to be part of the effort to welcome genealogists and family history fanatics to our area.

We’ll be posting updates more and more as May 2018 draws closer. This article invites those who enjoy writing to participate by telling others about the 2018 conference, the various resources we have in Michigan, and sharing details about what visitors will find here. The early articles are identified to cover area repositories, special collections, and local attractions for visitors. Each article should be 400 words or less and focused on a specific subject and include at least one photo or image. Include all basic information such as locations, hours of operations, costs, and phone numbers as applicable.

Looking ahead, there will be more specific topics as we get closer to the conference in May.

Would you like to help write? Have questions? We’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or send an email to webmaster@wmgs.org and we’ll get back to you.

Kris Rzepczynski, Senior Archivist at the Archives of Michigan

Saturday, 09 Sep 2017 

Kris Rzepczynski

Naturalization Records Online!: The Archives of Michigan & FamilySearch

 The Archives of Michigan and FamilySearch are partnering to digitize hundreds of thousands of Michigan naturalization records. With the assistance of the Michigan Genealogical Council and researchers like you, the index will ultimately be made available at both FamilySearch and Seeking Michigan, while the images themselves will be available exclusively at www.seekingmichigan.org. This program will cover the ins and outs of the indexing process and detail the current status of the project.

 A Senior Archivist at the Archives of Michigan, where he specializes in family history and Michigan research, Kris previously worked for a number of years at the Library of Michigan as the Michigan/Genealogy Coordinator. He holds a MLIS from Wayne State University and a MA 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, and for dozens of local genealogical societies and public libraries. He is also a former Vice-President of Membership for the Federation of Genealogical Societies and a Past President of the Mid-Michigan Genealogical Society.

1:30 pm at the Ryerson Auditorium, Grand Rapids Public Library, 111 Library St. NE

Hosted by the Western Michigan Genealogical Society. Public welcome. Free parking available Saturdays at the library lot.

Traditions often enrich and strengthen family bonds and create fond memories. Whether they are stories, activities, or beliefs handed down from generation to generation, it’s important to preserve your family traditions for future generations. WMGS encourages you to write about one of your family’s traditions. They may occur daily, weekly, monthly or yearly, and revolve around military, holidays, or her special occasions. Some may be humorous or unusual.

Traditions may or may not be genealogical facts, but often provide important research clues. You may choose to describe how a Family Tradition assisted in your research, how you determined when and how the tradition began, or whether the tradition is based on true information or was created to teach or convince.

We would love to hear your story. Write it up and enter the 2018 writing contest!

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The biggest breakthrough of my genealogy life happened at a national conference in Fort Wayne many, many years ago.  I had enjoyed the conference  thoroughly, but found that  it was necessary for me to leave a little early on the last day.  Reluctantly I wandered through the vendors hall one last time and came upon a man telling someone he had a book that gave the origin in Germany for particular family names.  I waited in line and then asked him if my maiden name Weidenfeller might be in the book and there it was!! In a moment after years and years of fruitless searching I was handed the name of the tiny village in Germany where my grandfather was born. I recall driving home in a cloud of joy. So while the speakers at a conference are important, sometimes it is just a serendipitous moment that makes it so worthwhile, but we won’t know if we don’t put yourselves in the place to have it happen. – Marlene F.

Christmas 1954

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Recipe Box of LettersFor Christmas this year (2016), my sister sent me an old recipe box stuffed with letters to my father in the 1940’s and 1950’s. One of the first ones I pulled out, on December 25, described my grandmother’s Christmas in 1954. She lived in Niagara Falls Ontario, the community where she, and later my father, grew up. Most of the people she mentions are her siblings and their offspring. The depiction of her holiday celebration is fascinating and intimate.

There are several people mentioned by first name. I’ve included an addendum that explains who they all are at the end of this article.  – Sue R. continue reading…

Early Memories…

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There are times that I just happen across things in my house that have been there for years… originating from a grandparent, distant cousin, or was acquired, stored and forgotten. Sound familiar? This is one of those stories.

My grandfather Kenneth Bennett passed away twenty years ago. Since I was the “family historian” items often just ended up at my house. I have a six-foot “highboy” dresser with drawers full of ephemera and photo albums. I don’t remember opening this particular manila envelope before. In it are several old newspapers, pages folded. They’re faded and brittle. The earliest is from 1918 with a headline proclaiming FIGHTING STOPS; PEACE REIGNS; FOE SIGNS DRASTIC TRUCE TERMS marking the end of the fighting in the Great War.  There were another dozen or so newspapers up through the 1960s. My grandfather, born in 1904, was apparently saving news clips of important events during his life from the time he was about 14 years old.

I recognized that some were articles mentioning him… mostly having to do with his term as president of the Michigan Rural Letter Carriers association in the 1950s. Some included photos of him at association gatherings. That made sense.  In the 1960s… there was the John F. Kennedy’s assassination headline; and the space program and moon landings were well represented.

One headline in the Grand Rapids Press from 4 April 1956 caught my attention because it was very personal to me in my childhood! TORNADO KILLS 18, HURTS 200 IN SMASH AT KENT, OTTAWA. continue reading…

NGS 2018 Family History Conference
Paths to Your Past
Grand Rapids, Michigan

Happy New Year

Even though it is a brand new 2017, we here at the Western Michigan Genealogical Society look ahead with anticipation to the NGS 2018 Family History conference coming to Grand Rapids! NGS has opened the the call for proposals.

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS–11:59 p.m. EDT on 1 April 2017

From the NGS website

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Coming full circle

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Sue and daughtersI was cleaning out stuff in the attic. I had a thousand black and white negatives with contact prints from fifty years ago. I kept the ones I wanted, about twenty, and the rest I threw away into a box. Since it was the season, I wrapped the box up in Christmas paper and gave it to my three daughters. As they opened it and understood what it was, I said “Look what I saved you from doing. Now when I’m dead and gone you won’t have to sort through old pictures, just throw these away.”

Much to my surprise, they were delighted to go through and pour over the contents. The stories about my daughters’ early years in Africa with my husband and I came to life and they shared them with their children. The grandchildren then selected the pictures they felt were most meaningful. Later my grandchildren salvaged a window frame from our hundred year old farmhouse. They went through the pictures, chose the ones they liked, and put them in the frame.

Coming full circle, they showed me their appreciation of our family story. I was moved and delighted that the pictures meant something to them.
– Sue Swanlund