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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, September 7 (1:30 p.m.)

Victorian Lady

Presenter: Wendy Batchelder 

Wendy BatchelderIn this "Lost Arts" presentation, you will explore ways to date a vintage photograph by using clues embedded in the photo itself. We will study Victorian fashion changes, hair styles, jewelry, hats, studio props and more - and use this information to date a photo as close as possible to the year it was taken. Also covered will be the bizarre Victorian photography customs from "photoshop" to post mortem photography customs. Guests are encouraged to bring in their own photos for group discussion. 

As a life long history lover, I have always loved learning about the past - from fashion, customs, food, medical history, etiquette, and more! I have worked as a costumer and educator for almost 13 years at the Grand Rapids Public Museum, and have loved teaching history from many different eras. Though I am no longer there, I still have many opportunities to share my love of history with young people - from Scouts, youth groups, home school groups, Teas, and at schools and libraries. I have 4 Grandchildren who delight in all my "dress up clothes" and antique things. Their curiosity is wonderful! It gives me the greatest joy to spend time with them.

 I am also a flute player and teacher, and spend many hours a week teaching students of all ages.

I developed my business "Lost Arts" as a way to promote and share all the interesting things I get to do - from creating new costumes, to classes & camps, and the Victorian programs I have developed and share all over the area. I have found that I adore public speaking! Getting to meet others who share my interests is such a treat. Every time I give a presentation, I have the privilege of meeting and talking to others who are as fascinated by the Victorian era as I am.

Mini-Class: Genealogy of a House: “If These Walls Could Speak”

Are you curious about the history of the house you live in, or would you like to trace the history of a family property?  Let’s learn how.

12 Noon - 1:00 p.m.

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

Saturday, Oct 5 (1:30 p.m.)

Resources For Genealogical Research In Foreign Countries

Presenter: Katherine R. Willson 

Katherine R. WillsonOnce you’ve discovered your immigrant ancestor’s home country, how will you go about finding documents generated while s/he was still there, and how will you research his/her parents?  We’ll discuss available resources for beginning your research in foreign countries, including how to locate foreign language genealogy terms and online maps providing contextual information on shifting country borders.

Katherine R. Willson of Ann Arbor, MI is a highly acclaimed and professionally trained national public speaker.   Her passion for genealogy combined with practical and creative strategies keeps her audience fully engaged and actively participating in these energetic, entertaining presentations.

Mini-Class: Using Social Media for Genealogy

Social media is a tool that can help the researcher further enhance or find living relatives. This may help you break down your brick walls.

12 Noon - 1:00 p.m.

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

Saturday, November 9 (1:30 p.m.)

Understanding the Ethnic Ancestry in Your DNA Test

Presenter: Richard Hill

Richard HillMany DNA tests now include a breakdown of your overall ethnic ancestry. Yet many people don’t get the results they expect. And different companies may show different results for the same person. People also wonder why siblings see different results on the same test. Or why Native American ancestry does not always show up when expected. This session will address these issues and more. Like which tests to consider and which ones to avoid.

We will review and compare actual ethnicity reports from AncestryDNA, 23andMe, FTDNA’s Family Finder, MyHeritage, Living DNA, GEDmatch, National Geographic’s Geno 2.0, and Insitome. Many examples will be for people of mostly European ancestry, including some siblings. Reports for an African-African and a person of Mexican ancestry will explore more diverse ancestry. 

Richard Hill was the first known case of an adoptee using genetic genealogy DNA tests to identify his birth family. He is the author of two books. Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA is an award-winning personal memoir that follows his decades long search for his birth parents.

Hill's Kindle Short Book, Guide to DNA Testing, gives readers just enough information to choose the right DNA tests for their purposes.
He also authors the web site, DNA-Testing-Adviser.com and gives presentations on genetic genealogy.

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 | Coming up this fall

September class:  (date to be determined)

Researching Vital Records

This class will explore research strategies of vital records such as birth, marriage, and death and how to find them.

Instructor:  Linda Guth

October  class:  (date to be determined)

Navigating the Family Search website

Explore the world's largest collection of free family trees, genealogy records and resources. This website is run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This site is completely free for all to use, whether they are members of the LDS Church or not.

Instructor:  To be determined 


Allen County Public Library

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

Fall 2019 trip is Tuesday and Wednesday, November  12 - 13. 


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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