Tuesday, January 10, 2012

One-Stop Shopping for Kalamazoo Records

Happy did not begin to describe my feelings when I discovered the page set up by Joe Ferrara at Kalamazoo Genealogy. Joe has spent countless hours working on this page which contains copies from the Kalamazoo County vital records books, among other things. Civil registration began in Michigan in 1867 for births, marriages and deaths, though for the first decade or so after that, I have found birth and death records to be a bit spotty. Some marriage records were recorded as early as 1831. The records available on this site are as follows:
Birth Index: 1867-1909 (birth records are closed to the public for 100 years to protect privacy)
Birth Records: 1867-1903
Marriage Index: 1831-1975
Marriage Records: 1831-1941
Death Index: 1867-1975
Death Records: 1867-1933

Before you jump right into the actual records you will first need to look up the person in the index so that you can make note of the book and page number. Armed with this information you can then go to the appropriate book and page to view the record. Right-click to save to your computer. In cases in which you need to scroll down to view the second page of the record you will need to right-click again in order to save the second page.

Another place you should be sure to check out is at the bottom of the Kalamazoo county vital records page. Where it says “Other Records” you can click on a link to the Kalamazoo Public Library Vital Records. Joe describes it as follows: (1800s-1940s) burial, biographic, & obit citations. Church records: baptisms, marriages, adoptions, & membership. Here, Joe has copied the card file from the library. The church records are only from a few of the older congregations in town, but if your family attended you may find a wealth of information. Search by surname and click on the highlighted section to bring up a photo of the card. For a key to the abbreviations on the card click on the drop down menus at the top of the page. Be sure to check alternate spellings of the name.

But wait, there's more. Joe has also added cemetery records (various throughout Kalamazoo county), some family trees, select city and county directories (1860-1935, usually every 5 years), basic maps (1861, 1873, 1890, 1913), school yearbook records, WWI veteran information (from books at the library), transcribed obituaries from the Schoolcraft Express (1917-1972) and some probate records (1831-1857). These may all be searched individually or you can use the search function to look across all non-vital records by surname.

Be sure to scroll down to see Joe's links to other helpful Kalamazoo sites as well as some from southwest Michigan and state-wide. As of the writing of this blog there are 240,000 files on the site. Joe deserves a great, big thank you from all of us who have benefited from his hours of work on the site. As I live out-of-state, I can easily say that I would not have made nearly so much progress on my own family history if not for the information I have found here.

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