6650 E. Broadway • Mt. Pleasant, MI 48858
Phone: 989-775-4750 • Fax: 989-775-4770
Open Mon. thru Sat. 10am - 6pm • Closed Sundays

Tips for successful family heritage research

Seeking Genealogy Information

The Nindakenjigewinoong Research Center is not a genealogical repository, but we can be useful in searching family histories. Some examples of materials commonly used are:

  • Allotment Rolls
  • Census Rolls
  • Annuity Rolls
  • Gruett Journal
  • Durant Roll and Field notes
  • Land Records
  • Dorothy L. Dinsmore manuscript titled Totems and Trees
  • Library Edition of Heritage Quest and many other on line resources

Helpful Hints

Step One: Before you come, you will want to gather as much family history as is available to you. Talk to your family and search the closets and attics of all family members who will take an interest.

  • When gathering your family information consider
    • Bibles and church records
    • Photo albums
    • School records
    • Journals and diaries
    • Obituary writings
    • Adoptions, step family connections
    • Maiden names
    • Census
    • Newspapers
    • Platte maps
    • Take care to record dates and locations of significant events.
    • You will find the following documents concerning your family members hold critical information.
      • Birth
      • Baptism
      • Marriage
      • Military records
      • Probate records
      • Death certificates
      • Burial and cemetery records
      • property ownership records
      • Immigration records and Ships passenger lists

Step Two: Organize your findings.

    • Create a family tree for visual organization
    • Create a file for every family and generation
    • Use a binder and page protectors or files and folders
    • Keep a record of where you have been, what you found there, and who you researched
    • Keep a list of where you want to go or who you would like to make contact with
    • On the top of each photocopy write the repository name, file name, and who you worked with to find that document
    • Keep certified copies in a safe location and make a photo copy to use while researching

Step Three: It's important to remember that all the things you expect should be constant may not be.

    • Spelling of Names, the rules do not apply to historic records
      • Make a list of all versions of the name
      • Dictionaries were not used until the 18th century
      • Names are always exceptions for sake of expression or family tradition
      • If the person can not read or write, someone else had guessed how to spell the name
      • Accents can influence how the recorder heard the name and how the individual pronounced the name
      • The name may be translated into another language
      • Formal given names, shortened versions, nicknames can vary from document to document or ear to ear
      • Dates are not reliable
      • Historically only the upper class were educated, people may not have known their actual birth date
      • There was a formal calendar change in the mid 18th century which caused an eleven day irregularity
      • A census recorder may have asked the neighbor for family statistics if the property owner was not home
      • Copy of historic records were done by hand, there is a percentage of human error or the inability to read the original text
    • Relationships
      • Persons raised in a home can be falsely assumed and recorded to be their child or another familial relationship
      • Adoptions were not always recorded, especially between family members
      • Mother, father, brother, sister, cousin may not always refer to blood relatives
    • Locations
      • Beware that towns and villages names could be very different in different time periods depending on who the ruling authority is
      • For Example: This area was known as New France, Canada, Northwest Territory, Indian Territory, Michigan Territory and Michigan as a state
      • Michigan began with only three counties covering the entire state, counties were merged, divided and renamed

Don't feel discouraged if you don't have everything you hope for when you arrive remember it is a long term goal and you make steps toward your ultimate goal. Getting there is half the fun! Bring with you any information you have, it will make your trip more productive. You can explore the Ziibiwing Center Archives with the clues you have collected.