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Census taker with a family in 1950.  RSC-125-H-0-002878



American Ancestors Genealogical information from the New England Historic Genealogical Society, the country's oldest genealogical organization. Enter an ancestor's name to search the New England Historical and Genealogical Register, cemetery records, court and probate records, census lists, and much more.

Ancestry Library Edition Comprehensive genealogical database of over 2 billion names. Includes access to passenger lists from all major U.S. ports including New York, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and New Orleans; naturalization records ranging from 1700 to 1900; U.S. birth, marriage and death records including the Social Security Death Index; and U.S. Census 1790-1930 images and indexes.

Biography and Genealogy Master Index* (Infotrac)

Fold3 (Main Library only) Providing convenient access to US military records, including the stories, photos, and personal documents of the men and women who served.

HeritageQuest Online* An online resource for census data, family records and local histories. The collection assembles every extant US federal census, banking and military records, genealogies, local histories, primary source materials, and genealogical and local history serials.

Indexes Indexes for resources at the Grand Rapids Public Library, including newspapers, magazines, maps and topical and biographical files.

WMGS databases Search thousands of local records from the West Michigan Genealogical Society's databases for obituaries, marriages, funeral records, and much more.

The subscription databases are openly accessible to all patrons from any of our library locations. Home access to the subscription databases is limited to Grand Rapids Public Library cardholders only.

*remote access available with a valid Grand Rapids Public Library card

Magazines and Periodicals

Here is a list of genealogy periodicals held in the Grand Rapids History and Special Collections Department.

Printable Genealogy Guides

African American Genealogy Guide

Dutch Genealogy Guide

German Genealogy Guide

Hispanic Genealogy Guide

Irish Genealogy Guide

Native American Genealogy Guide

Polish Genealogy Guide

Yankee Genealogy Guide

Illinois Genealogy Guide

Indiana Genealogy Guide

New York Genealogy Guide

Ohio Genealogy Guide

Wisconsin Genealogy Guide

Web Resources



Newspaper Searches/Archives

Vital Records


Cemetery Searches

Public Records Searches

(some free, some fee based)


African American


DNA Genealogy

Photo Databases

Genealogy Blogs

Research Assistance

The Local History Department may be reached by phone at 616-988-5400 (see hours and directions). Research Requests for both the Western Michigan Genealogy Society and the Local History Department may be directed to 616-988-5400 x5496 or sent here: Grand Rapids History and Special Collections Department

Due to the time and staff resources involved in researching answers to local history, genealogy, and furniture questions, some fees apply to certain types of requests. We encourage researchers to come to our library to be assisted for free.

-Family history queries are answered by the Western Michigan Genealogical Society research committee for a fee of $15.00 per hour of research.

-Michigan and Grand Rapids history research questions are answered by the Local History Department staff at a rate of $30.00 per hour. Copying charges are extra. Indexed obituaries are charged as follows: no charge for the first requested obituary, with any request beyond one obituary to be charged based on the library's research rate of $30.00 per hour. Non-indexed obituaries are charged at the hourly research rate.


Other Resources

Search our Archival Collections

Archives & Photos

Furniture Design

Grand Rapids and Michigan History

Military History

Oral Histories

Property History

Contact Information

The Local History Department may be reached by phone at 616-988-5400. Also, see hours and directions. Requests for both the Western Michigan Genealogy Society and the Local History Department may be sent here: Contact the Grand Rapids History and Special Collections Department

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