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The history in Michigan doesn't quite go as far back as some other states, and the official collection of most documentation began in 1915. But there are also some Michigan genealogy records in various counties that can be found back to 1867, if you are lucky.
Michigan Vital Records
Like most states, there are some restrictions on who can access the state's collection of birth, death and marriage records. If the record is for yourself or your children, there are no problems. Otherwise, the records are held confidential for 100 years unless the person is now deceased. For someone who is deceased, you can make a request if you are their descendant (to any degree).
When looking to get copies of these records, you can go to the main Vital Records Office in Lansing if you want birth or death records. Marriage records are not held by the state so you will have to contact the county clerk's office where the marriage is registered to request a copy. To make a request at the Vital Records Office, you can either mail in your forms or drop them off in person. When at their service counter, they typically can get your papers back same-day but not necessarily within a few minutes while you wait. Mailed in forms will take up to 5 weeks to get back to you.
There are search fees associated with these requests as well. The cost for birth and death records is $26 (costs for marriage records will vary by clerk's office). You can pay in cash or by credit card if you are at the counter but will have to send a check or money order for all mailed-in applications. Your payment should be made out to the State of Michigan.
If you are going to mail in your application, you can print out the forms from the Michigan Department of Community Health website.
Michigan State Archives
Vital records are great for most names and dates but there is more to Michigan genealogy than just that. They're located in Lansing (part of the Michigan Library and Historical Center) and have a number of other public records available for research. You can find tax rolls, census records, agricultural records, naturalization documents, land records, old photographs, probate and legal records, and military material. They also have collections of church and cemetery documents.
They are only open for afternoon hours, Monday through Friday. If you are not in Lansing, they can do some limited research or look-ups for you. Just contact the library and let them know what you are looking for.
Other Michigan Genealogy Resources
Joining a genealogy group can lead you to further resources, particularly from other members who may have researched the same family branches are you are currently after. Larger groups may even maintain their own libraries or document collections that are not open to the public.
The main group for the state is the Michigan Genealogy Council, but there are other state-wide groups for specific ethnic groups (such as the Jewish Genealogy Society in Michigan, and the Irish Genealogy Society of Michigan). Each county has its own group as well, if you prefer to target your interests more locally.
Michigan Genealogy Databases
Records on Other Sites
- Marriage Records
Marriage records with Michigan connections posted by visitors.
- Photo Album
See if they are your MI ancestors.
- Genealogy Archives
Obituaries, newspaper articles, and other documents with Michigan connections submitted by visitors
Find Michigan Societies & Biographies
Michigan Genealogy Links