WMGS-Blog

Western Michigan Genealogical Society

Browsing Posts in Local History

Through day-to-day accounts in Loren M. Page’s journal, kept from 1847 to 1852, get a peek at life at the “north-end” of early Grand Rapids, now the Creston neighborhood. Accounts in the diary provide a detailed and personal look at upper and lower class life in the young city, and will be supplemented by photographs and […]

Peer into the incredible closet of a prominent Grand Rapids entrepreneurial family, the Voigts. The collection of over 600 items of personal dress dates from the 1890s through the 1970s and includes pieces rarely appearing in museum collections, particularly the active wear and clothing worn privately in the home. The garments will be used to explore the fashion, culture and society of Grand […]

From 1850 to 1920 African Americans in Grand Rapids were a steady one percent of the city’s rapidly growing population. Ruth Van Stee will present on the vibrant community’s broader population before providing snapshots of business, cultural, and political leaders. She will also discuss how she explored some of her examples: a wealthy business man; […]

Located around Michigan are over 1,700 historical markers that tell the story of the state and its people. Each and every one of them provides a wonderful reminder of our history and offers insights about where we are headed. Fifty of the historical site markers are located in Kent County, both in and around Grand Rapids. […]

The historical charting of Grand Rapids women’s runs for public office beginning in 1887 is upending conventional wisdom and offering surprises about dates, the number of races, and the identities of losers. This unique historical accounting hopes to inspire cities across the nation to create their own comprehensive elective histories. Julia Bouwkamp and Jo Ellyn Clarey will […]

While researching his church’s first hundred years for This Far by Faith: The Unfinished Story of Madison Square Church (2017), Don Bryant discovered surprising connections among people, organizations, and events that characterized the Grand Rapids neighborhood in which the church was planted in 1914. As the first business district outside downtown, the Square’s long history provides […]

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, […]

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 […]

1:00 – 1:45 PM Where Have All the Flowers Gone? Rediscovering Emma Cole’s 19th-Century Grand Rapids Flora Julie Stivers, Garrett E. Crow, and David P. Warners Sponsored by the Grand Rapids Public Museum In 1901, Emma Cole published Grand Rapids Flora, a catalog of plants growing without cultivation in the vicinity of Kent County. Enormous […]

11:30 AM-12:15 PM Making Waves: Michigan’s Boat Building Industry, 1865-2000 Scott M. Peters Sponsored by the Grand Rapids Historical Commission Michigan’s late-nineteenth century emergence as the boat-building industry’s hub drew together talented designers, builders, and engine makers to produce some of the fastest, most innovative boats ever created. Entrepreneurs like Christopher Columbus Smith, John L. […]