Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Seeking Michigan Death + online

The following message is sent to you as an officer, Webmaster or newsletter
editor of your genealogy society.

The Library of Michigan and the Archives of Michigan today launched Seeking
Michigan,, the brand-new, one-stop shop for Michigan
historical records never before available electronically. Michigan death
records, 1897 to 1920, and Civil War service records are two highlights of the
digital collections available on this free Web site.

Below is the press release issued today by the Michigan Department of History,
Arts and Libraries.

For more information, please contact Randy Riley, special collections manager at
the Library of Michigan, (517) 373-5860.

Thank you,
Gloriane Peck
Special Collections Librarian
Library of Michigan

'Seeking Michigan' Web site employs today's technology to deliver Michigan's
history to information seekers

The Department of History, Arts and Libraries today announced the launch of the
Seeking Michigan Web site (, a growing collection of
unique historical information that - through digitized source documents, maps,
films, images, oral histories and artifacts - creatively tells the stories of
Michigan's families, homes, businesses, communities and landscapes.

Seeking Michigan's first major project is the digitization of roughly 1 million
death records covering the years 1897 through 1920. These records - never
before available electronically - are indexed for easy searching by name, death
date, location and age, and hold tremendous research opportunities for
genealogists, historians and students.

Whether they are interested in Civil War records, photographs, architecture,
music, photography or family history, Michigan enthusiasts are sure to discover
a brand new side to Michigan through this unique online resource, a
collaboration that has long been in the making between the Archives of Michigan
and the Library of Michigan. Site design and digitization of resources were
funded through various grants.

"Seeking Michigan takes great information from both of our agencies and makes it
available to everyone in a convenient and easy-to-navigate Web site," said State
Librarian Nancy R. Robertson. "We were inspired by the state motto in designing
the site. If you look, you will discover stories, photos and much more to
connect you to our state's pleasant peninsulas and one-of-a-kind past."

With plans in place to add much more material, Seeking Michigan currently

-More than 100,000 pages of Civil War documents;
-Approximately 10,000 photographs;
-A variety of Michigan sheet music;
-Roughly 1 million death records;
-A rich section about Michigan's 44 past governors;
-Works Progress Administration data (circa 1936-1942) about land and buildings
throughout rural Michigan; and
-Oral histories with notable Michigan residents.

According to Sandra Clark, director of the Michigan Historical Center, Seeking
Michigan boldly moves the archives and library experience outside of the bricks
and mortar of the building in which the collections are housed. By employing
the latest Web technologies and social media, the site aims for an enhanced user
experience. "We want to give visitors historical content and, whenever possible,
the context for that content," she explained. "For K-12 educators, there's also
a 'teach' page that links up with related resources and grade-level content

Clark noted that Seeking Michigan will open up Michigan's history to a whole new
market of information hunters. "Seeking Michigan is definitely a big boost for
those who already have an interest in our state's history, including scholars,
authors, genealogists and publishers," she said. "What we're very excited about
is the prospect of introducing new generations of Michigan residents to the
Michigan they thought they knew and helping them forge connections with our
state's remarkable past."

Seeking Michigan was made possible with generous funding from the Talbert and
Leota Abrams Foundation, a Lansing-based nonprofit that primarily focuses on
funding library and educational science programs. Since the mid-1980s, the
Abrams Foundation has provided more than $2.5 million toward the development of
the Library of Michigan's and Archives of Michigan' genealogy collection,
including the digitization of the death records so crucial to family historians'
research efforts. The National Historic Publications and Records Commission
provided additional funding.

The Library of Michigan Foundation ( and the
Michigan History Foundation ( helped facilitate
the funding process for Seeking Michigan and provide donors the opportunity to
contribute to Seeking Michigan and many other initiatives.

The Archives of Michigan is part of the Michigan Historical Center. The
Michigan Historical Center and the Library of Michigan are agencies within the
Department of History, Arts and Libraries (HAL). Dedicated to enriching quality
of life and strengthening the economy by providing access to information,
preserving and promoting Michigan's heritage and fostering cultural creativity,
HAL also includes the Mackinac Island State Park Commission and the Michigan
Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs. To learn more, visit