Searching for Names of Family Members
- Census Materials
- City Directories
- Michigan Biography Index, compiled by Frances Loomis
- Michigan Historical Collections (commonly known as Michigan Pioneer Collections)
- Published County Histories
- Vertical File
1894 Washtenaw County Census
The census provides a good way of finding out household information about families including names, ages, land ownership, occupations, and length of residence of the family. The extent of the information varies by year and location. You will need to know the name of the county, city, or township of residence. Censuses were conducted by federal and state governments. Click to find out what information is found in the Federal census and the State Census of Michigan.
It is helpful to consult census indexes before searching through lengthy census records, especially if you are unsure of the family's exact geographical location. Not all censuses have indexes. Please look through the library's census index holdings to see if your census of interest is listed.
The Bentley Historical Library's state census records focus on Washtenaw County although additional Michigan counties are also represented. Please see the library's census holdings for a complete list of records. If you are interested in cities or townships within Washtenaw County, the 1884 and 1894 State Census Returns are particularly descriptive.
1911 Ann Arbor City Directory
As a precursor to today's phone books, city and county directories provide useful information about residents. Information varies within the directories but they generally list the head of household along with spouse, address, occupation, and whether they owned or rented their home. City directories also list churches, funeral homes, schools, public organizations and more. Please see the library's city directory holdings for a detailed list of directories at the Bentley.
Assorted individual directories are available online. For example, DistantCousin.com has the entire 1837 Detroit, Michigan City Directory online.
The 1872 Ann Arbor city directory by Cole and Keating is also online.
A page from the Michigan Biograpy Index
This ten volume index, compiled by Frances Loomis, lists every individual appearing in select historical biographies that has a five line or greater description. It is a nice starting point for finding relatives listed in county directories or other Michigan reference publications. It is only available at the Bentley Historical Library.
Calhoun County Report, 1897 Michigan
This serial publication, authored by Michigan Historical Commission/Pioneer and Historical Society of the State of Michigan, records early state news, events, and historical reports. The Pioneer Collection consists of articles and reports submitted by individual counties. The information within each volume varies greatly but consistently contains a wealth of early Michigan information. This publication, which ran from 1874 to 1929, is indexed.
A Twentieth Century History of Allegan County, Michigan
compiled by Henry F. Thomas,
Lewis Publishing Co., 1907
The Bentley Historical Library has many published histories about specific Michigan Counties. The majority were published in the late 1800s or very early 1900s. They contain information about county origins, government, schools, businesses, individual city or town information, and biographies about pioneers and other important individuals.
Due to their frailty, the library does not photocopy county histories. The only exception is Washtenaw County histories for which the library has duplicates for such purposes.
There are now 362 digitized titles (many composed of multiple volumes) published before 1923, that are available on-line. The collection provides all members of the community with keyword searching and page-by-page access to digitized reproductions of Michigan county histories and Michigan county histories as a resource for historical and genealogical research.
The Bentley Historical Library's vertical file contains clippings, pamphlets, reprints, and other miscellaneous materials relating to persons, places, organizations, and topical subjects relating to Michigan. An online index is available for searching or browsing by topic.