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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, April 6  (1:30 p.m.)

"The Abandoned Bride" - A Documentary

Presenters: Deb Havens and Lynne Doele  

Lynne Doele and Dr. Deb HavensTwenty years after their Grandfather Del Havens died, sisters Lynne Doele and Dr. Deb Havens discovered a secret that stunned their entire family: a box of pictures and post cards from their grandfather’s post-World War I service in Europe. Among them were sad messages from a mysterious woman named Dora Gallner, claiming to be his abandoned bride. All the postcards she had written to the sisters’ Great Grandmother Grace, Del's mother, seemed to support Dora's claim. But if that were true, if he had left her behind, truly abandoned Dora, it was unforgivable-- the act of a man the family didn't recognize. The two sisters traveled to Germany, Austria and Switzerland to search for Dora Gallner... and uncovered her tragic story.
"The Abandoned Bride" documents the dramatic tale as the sisters traced the clues they found in Del’s personal papers and photographs to conduct historically-based genealogical research.

April Mini-Class: Creating your Family History TimeLine  

Does your family tree timeline not contain much information?  Want to make it more interesting?  Learn how to merge historical events into your tree.

12 Noon - 1:00 p.m.

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

Saturday, May 4  (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.

May Mini-Class: Different Types of Censuses 

Did you know there’s more than just the US Federal Census? Let’s learn about US Federal census, other countries censuses, State censuses, Agricultural census, etc.

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


6-Week Beginner's Class Series

Sue Rabick is conducting a 6-week beginner's class series on Thursdays from February 28-April 4.

  • Feb 28th:  Introduction to Genealogy, Pedigrees, & a 4 Generation Chart

    • Explanation of what genealogy is, pedigree and historian. Learn how to get started by filling in a 4 Generation Chart. Discuss briefly the need of organization, understand the importance of analyzing, and consider examples of the value of fraternizing.

  • March 7th:  Family Group Sheets, Time Lines & Resources of the WMGS Database

    • Learn about the value of Family Group Sheets and how to fill them out. View a sample time line and discuss how it can identify what you are missing in your information, where to look, and suggest problem solving. Learn about the resources on the WMGS DataBase.

  • March 14th:  Federal Census

    • Learn the history of the federal census, its’ value and weaknesses. Learn about other census. Learn how use Ancestry.com to find your family in the census. Apply critical thinking to what you find. If time allows, explore other resources on Ancestry.

  • March 21st  FamilySearch.org

    • Learn to use FamilySearch.org. If desired, demonstrate a personal tree program, FamilyTreeMaker. Or, spend remaining class time exploring Ancestry and FamilySearch.

  • March 28th:  GRPL library resources & tour of library

    • Discover GRPL library resources. Learn to use the library catalogue (and possibly other libraries). Take a tour of the library.

  • April 4th:  Genealogy websites, GENWEB, etc.

    • Briefly discuss other areas for the beginner; web sites; GENWEB program, opportunities for CE; organization, preservation & storage, misc. 


Allen County Public Library

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

Spring 2019 trip is announced: Wednesday and Thursday, April 24 - 25. Registration details to be announced.


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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