Family History

Discover your family history, local or across the world.


American Ancestors (Library Use Only)
From the New England Historic Genealogical Society, the country’s oldest genealogical organization.

Ancestry Library Edition 
Billions of international genealogy records, including census, death, marriage and military records. Thanks to our friends at the Western Michigan Genealogical Society for their support of this resource.

Biography Reference Center
Thousands of full-text biographies, including the complete full text of Biography Today and Biography.

FamilySearch Affiliate Library (Main Library Use Only)
World’s largest collection of free family trees, genealogy records and resources. Affiliate Library records are available on Library computers only.

FIMo (Fire Insurance Maps Online)
High-definition, color fire insurance and historical maps for Michigan

Fold3 (Main Library only)
US military records, including stories, photos, and personal documents.

Billions of historical documents and millions of historical photos spanning the past five centuries.

ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Black Newspaper Collection
ProQuest Historical Black Newspapers offer essential primary source content and editorial perspectives of the most distinguished African American newspapers in the U.S. Includes Chicago Defender (1909-1975) and Michigan Chronicle (1939-2010).


The subscription databases are openly accessible to all patrons from any of our library locations. Home access to the subscription databases is limited to Grand Rapids Public Library cardholders only.

Books & Magazines

We have an extensive collection of genealogy books and magazines, covering not only Grand Rapids but also the entire United States. Search the collection here:

Web Resources

Grand Rapids and Kent County

  • Obituary Index
    Index of obituaries from Grand Rapids newspapers, 1910-present
  • WMGS databases
    Indexes to thousands of local records from the Western Michigan Genealogical Society: obituaries, marriages, funeral records, and more.


  • Michiganology
    From the Library/Archives of Michigan, includes death certificates, state census records, Civil War service records, and more.

Genealogy Guides