Genealogy FAQ

1. What is genealogy?

Strictly speaking, genealogy is the study of individuals and their family relationships. In a larger sense, however, genealogy studies the lives of these individuals and their families, and their relationship to the broader history of the times and places in which they lived.

2. Where is the local history room located?

The local history room is located on the second floor of Kalamazoo Public Library’s Central Library at 315 S. Rose Street.

3. Where can I park when I visit the Local History Room?

There are several city parking lots that charge a small fee on weekdays within a short walk of the library. There are also a number of free ninety minute parking spots on surrounding streets. See the parking map for detailed information.

4. How do I contact the Local History Room?

The phone number for the local history room desk is 269-553-7808.  You may also send us a request by mail at Kalamazoo Public Library, Local History Room, 315 S. Rose Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49007.

5. How do I request a copy of an obituary?

You can make a request though our online contact form, call us at 269-553-7808, or mail a request to Kalamazoo Public Library, Local History Room, 315 S. Rose Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49007. For detailed information on requesting an obituary see our Obituary Requests page.

6. How much do you charge for this service?

We charge $2.00 for each obituary. We normally send a scan of the obituary attached to email, however you may request a copy be mailed to you if you do not have email. Prepayment is required.

7. How far back do your Kalamazoo Gazette holdings go?

We have copies of the Kalamazoo Gazette going as far back as 1834 with a gap in the collection during the Civil War years from 1862-1870.

8. How do I find articles from the Kalamazoo Gazette if I don’t know the date on which they appeared in the paper?

The Kalamazoo Public Library’s Local History Room maintains an index of Kalamazoo Gazette articles.  The focus of the index is on vital statistics (births, deaths and marriages) but there are also common interest articles starting in 1969 and moving toward the present such as sporting events, local politics and more.  Click here for specific searching instructions

9. What kinds of genealogy programs do you offer?

The Local History Room sponsors many different programs both at the library’s central location as well as at branches.  These events include book signings, genealogy workshops, genealogy lock-ins, guest speakers discussing local history topics and more. 

10. Where can I find out what programs you will be offering?

Upcoming local history programs are listed in the library’s LINK newsletter and in the local history calendar on the library’s website.   This calendar lists a variety of events of historical interest held in Michigan but concentrating on southwest Michigan.  The Local History events at Kalamazoo Public Library are listed here as well.

11. How do I go about finding information on Kalamazoo State Hospital patients?

The records of Kalamazoo State Hospital patients are closed. These patients can be tracked on the U.S. Federal census and records of their deaths can be found in the Kalamazoo County Death Index.  However, even with a death date, it is rare to find an obituary in the Kalamazoo Gazette for people who died in the State Hospital.  State Hospital patients came from all over Michigan and if they had obituaries published it was often in the county where they were living before they were admitted. You can also find information on their admission to the hospital in the probate court in the county where they were living when they were admitted provided that they were admitted involuntarily, which most patients were.  This will generally tell who had the person admitted, the symptoms they were exhibiting at the time and any medication they were taking.

12. Where do I find divorce records?

Divorce records are held in three different places, depending on the year. Those through 1935 are located at the Archives and Regional History Collections in East Hall, Western Michigan University.  They have an index to them, and the records themselves can be viewed there on microfilm. From 1936 through 1998, the records are at the main Circuit Court office in the County Courthouse, 227 W. Michigan Avenue.  Starting in 1999, records are now held by the Family Court Division at 1400 Gull Road.