Local History Indexes

Local History Indexes

What's in an Index?

Indexes are tools that tell you where to look for information on a specific subject, person, or topic. Our indexes cover resources like newspapers, magazines, and photographs. The indexes will help you find information that isn't available online. Our indexes usually lead to content found in physical resources at the Grand Rapids History Center.

Information Files

Biography and Portrait Files
List of names for which we have a newspaper clipping file on.

Subject Files
List of Grand Rapids and Michigan topics that we have newspaper clippings files for.

Grand Rapids Homes and Architects
Database that lists off addresses that we have newspaper clipping files on.

Indexes to Grand Rapids Newspapers and Magazines

African American Bajema clippings (1830-1935)
Newspaper clippings relating to African Americans in West Michigan

Women’s history Bajema clippings (1840s-1930s)
Newspaper clippings relating to women in West Michigan

Grand Rapids Enquirer index (1841-1844)
Weekly newspaper beginning May 1841; became The Daily Enquirer in 1855

Civil War Index (1858-1943)
Index to Civil War-related articles in local newspapers

Furniture and Business Periodical index (1883-1949)
Indexes the Michigan Tradesman, Furniture Manufacturer/Artisan, Grand Rapids Furniture Record and Michigan Artisan

Lyden’s File Index (1880s-1956)
Selected articles from local newspapers, mostly the Grand Rapids Press.

Arab American/Syrian clipping index (1905-1951)
Articles relating to the Arab American/Syrian community in Grand Rapids

Grandville Avenue Record (1911-1918)
Neighborhood newspaper

Peninsular Club Magazine index (1934-1971)
Monthly magazine for members of the Peninsular Club

Urban Renewal index (1946-1975)
Articles relating to development in downtown Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids Magazine index (1964-1996)
Articles center on newsworthy events in the Greater Grand Rapids area

Grand Rapids Press index (1982-2005)
Select indexing of keywords, topics, and names

Photograph Indexes

Photograph Index - people, opens a new window
A partial index helpful for finding people by name.

Photograph Index - by subject, opens a new window
A partial index helpful for finding photographs by subject or topic.

Robinson Studio Photograph Index, opens a new window
Index to photos taken by the Robinson Studio for the Grand Rapids Herald newspaper.

Robinson Studio Address Index, opens a new window
Index arranged by street address that is useful for finding photos of businesses and homes.

Map Indexes

City Plat Map Index
An index to the plat maps & subdivision maps in the Grand Rapids History Center's map collection.

Master Map Index
An index to maps held in the archives. 


  • The Grand Rapids History Center collects, preserves, and shares the history of our community, through photographs, diaries, posters, maps and other records. You can research your house, your family, a business, or your neighborhood.

    Staff are ready to assist you with your research needs, whether it be finding material on our shelves, tips on where to start, or with navigating our archival collections. We’re here to help you explore at your own pace. You may drop in at any time, or you can contact us ahead of time with questions. If you’re traveling from out of town, we recommend that you check in with us before your visit (but it isn’t required).

    The Grand Rapids History Center is located on level four of the Main Library, and is open the same hours. 

    Please note that while covered beverages are allowed on other floors of the library, no food or beverages (including water) are permitted on level four.

  • Contact us with details of your research request. We’re happy to answer quick questions and provide suggestions for further research. Due to the time and staff resources involved in researching answers to local history, genealogy, and furniture questions, some fees apply to certain types of requests. We encourage researchers to come to our library to be assisted for free.

    Family history queries can also be submitted to the Western Michigan Genealogical Society research committee.

  • We love when people use and share images from our archives. Our digital collections were designed with sharing in mind and if you find content that you would like to download and share, you are welcome to do so. If you do, we ask that you please let people know that it came from the Grand Rapids Public Library, so others may find it as well.

    There are some fees that apply to scanning and using images. If the content is not available through our digital collections, there is a $5 processing fee per image. If you would like to include an image in a published book or use it for commercial purposes (such as selling a t-shirt or creating artwork for a restaurant or office), there is a use fee of $15 per image. For additional information and to order images, please visit our order form.

    There are also exceptions for content where the copyright is held by someone else. In those instances, you need to seek permission from the copyright holder. In our digital collections we use RightsStatements.org categories to share, to the best of our knowledge, if content is in the public domain or under copyright. 

  • You can search our finding aids here. When you arrive, you will fill out a request card for each folder or box. The request card asks for your name and contact information, and the location of the material you would like to view (usually a collection number, box number and folder number). You may have one box or five folders at your table at a time.  All materials are stored on-site. If you would like any guidance in searching or in preparing your requests, please contact us.  

  • We are always looking for items to tell the story of our community, from the recent past to the 1800s. If you have unique books, papers, letters, scrapbooks or photographs you think would contribute to this cause, please contact us.

    If you are interested in making a monetary donation, please contact the Grand Rapids Public Library Foundation.

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