Friday, October 25, 2013

New WMU Archives Now Open

The new Zhang Legacy Collections Center (ZLCC) is now open for business. Through the end of 2013 the Archives will be open Tues. through Fri. 9 am to 4 pm. 

The new location is just a hop, skip and a jump from the former home in East Hall. The ZLCC is at the end of Calhoun St. on the top of Oakland hill just a few hundred yards from the iconic asylum water tower.

The official dedication ceremony occurred a week ago and though I was unable to attend my mother was. She took some photos during the guided tour of the storage room. Unlike the rabbit warren that previously housed the archives documents (view the short video here if you don't believe me) the new facility is state-of-the-art and is large enough to hold all of the materials under one climate controlled roof. There is even room for 8.5 years of growth.

These impressive shelving units are 30 feet tall. Each individual shelf has an 800 pound capacity.

The lift allows easy access to items housed above eye level.

There are two options for parking at the ZLCC. Lot 108 at the ZLCC has two free visitor parking spots, thanks to donors. If you're not fortunate enough to find one open you can purchase a day pass at the Archives desk for $5. Those with a WMU permit can also park in the lot.

Finally, I would like to personally thank Charles and Lynn Zhang for their substantial contribution to providing a home for the Archives materials. Though they have no ancestral roots in Kalamazoo or even in the United States they recognize the importance of these records to the community. Through their, and other donors', generosity our past has a safe future.

For those unfamiliar with Kalamazoo and the Western Michigan University campus, the ZLCC is located at J9 on this map

You can view photos throughout construction here.  

Thursday, October 17, 2013

What's Coming To Seeking Michigan?

Drum roll, please . . . more death certificates as well as naturalization records. As everyone reading this likely knows, Seeking Michigan currently hosts Michigan death certificates from 1897 (when they were first required) through 1920. You may also be aware that in the spring of 2013 Family Search posted an index to Michigan death certificates for 1921-1952. Rumors circulated that Family Search or Seeking Michigan would eventually post the images for these records. Kris Rzepczynski, writing in the Michigan Genealogical Council Newsletter, has settled the debate by announcing that Seeking Michigan will add death certificate images, but with a catch. [1] Because Michigan imposes a 75-year restriction on access to death records only images up through 1937 will become available initially. [1] Then as we celebrate each New Year, images will be uploaded for the next allowable year. [1]

The other big news item is that Michigan naturalization records will eventually be available through a partnership between the Archives of Michigan and Family Search. [1] However, don't expect to jump into these records anytime soon. First, many of these records have yet to be scanned and indexed. [1] Second, this is a large collection. Archives staff “estimates that this database will dwarf any existing collection” now online at Seeking Michigan. [1] Some indexes are already available, including Kalamazoo county, but for the rest we'll have to wait. A list of the county naturalization records held by the Archives of Michigan can be found here (click on the County Circuit Courts box). To search the available indexes click here.  For more information on these records you can read the Archives of Michigan circular.  It's important to note that if your ancestor petitioned a federal court to become naturalized you won't find their records in this collection.

The naturalization record index will be available at Family Search while the actual images will be on the Seeking Michigan website. If you are a Family Search indexer keep an eye out for this project. If you have never done any indexing, it's not difficult to do. Indexing is done by the batch with each batch requiring on average 30-60 minutes to complete, depending on the number of fields to complete and the ease of reading the handwriting. If everyone does even a few batches it will speed the process along. To learn more about becoming an indexer click here

Kris Rzepczynski. Archives of Michigan & Abrams Foundation Historical Collection. Michigan Genealogical Council Newsletter. Fall 2013. Vol 37 (issue 4). p. 13.