Michigan Records Details and Resources

Michigan Records Details and Resources

Where to find Michigan census records, immigration records, land records, maps, vital records and more.


Except for a few surviving fragments of the 1810 census, the first available federal population census for Michigan is 1820. The 1890 census was destroyed in a fire, but the 1890 Veterans’ schedule for Michigan survived. More than 20 territorial censuses were taken in various parts of Michigan Territory, but for many, records for only a few counties survive. Territorial and state censuses were taken in 1827, 1834, 1837, 1845, 1854, 1864, 1874, 1884, 1894 and 1904. Indexes to the 1827, 1837 and 1845 have been published. The most complete collections are the 1884 and 1894 censuses, which list every member of the household and are a good substitute for the lost 1890 federal census. These schedules are available at the Archives of Michigan, and for many counties, on FamilySearch.org.

County registration of births and deaths began in 1867, and state recordkeeping requirements were generally complied with by 1915. Laws required registration of marriages in 1805; most counties kept marriage records from formation. You can order birth, death and marriage records from the county clerk or from the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH), which has copies of county records from 1867. The MDCH Website allows online ordering of records and provides additional information on restrictions. The FHL has microfilm of birth, death and marriage records for most counties into the 20th century. The Library of Michigan has statewide indexes to births from 1867 to 1915 and deaths from 1867 to 1914.

Early divorces were handled by the Michigan Supreme Court. Later divorce records are usually in circuit courts’ civil case files. MCDH has copies of divorce records from about 1897; those can also be ordered on the MDCH website.

Michigan’s county-level courts are district courts, but have jurisdiction over only minor matters. Circuit courts, which serve one to four counties, handle most matters. See a list of circuit court records that have been turned over to the Archives of Michigan.

The county clerk in each county holds naturalization records. Indexes to records for some Michigan counties are online, and you can discover them here. The FHL also has 188 rolls of National Archives microfilm of federal district court naturalizations for Michigan.

Probate records are handled by the probate court in each county and date either from the formation of the county or from 1817. Wayne County’s records start in 1797. See a finding aid for the Michigan archives’ records. Probates from most Michigan counties through roughly 1900 are on microfilm at the FHL.

The Library of Michigan’s record collection includes many church and cemetery abstracts, transcriptions and indexes, as well as original records or microfilm copies. The FHL has microfilmed records from some Michigan churches. Most churches and cemeteries still have their original records.


  • Along the Tracks: A Directory of Named Places on Michigan Railroads by Graydon M. Meints (Central Michigan University, Clarke Historical Library, 1987)
  • Bowen’s Michigan State Atlas by F. F. Bowen (B.F. Bowen, 1916)
  • Gazetteer of the State of Michigan by John T. Blois (S.L. Rood, 1939)
  • Historical Atlas and Chronology of County Boundaries, 1788-1980, 5 vols., edited by John H., Long (G.K. Hall, 1984)
  • Indian Names in Michigan by Virgil J. Vogel (University of Michigan Press, 1986)
  • Michigan; Atlas of Historical County Boundaries by Peggy Tuck Sinko (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1997)
  • Michigan Atlases and Plat Books: A Checklist, 1872-1973 by William Miles (State Library Service, 1975)
  • Michigan County Map Guide by C. J. Puetz (Thomas Publications, 1990)
  • Michigan Gazetteer (American Historical Publications, 1991)
  • Michigan Place Names by Walter Romig (Romig, ca. 1970)
  • Michigan Postal History: The Post Offices, 1805-1986 by David M. Ellis (The Depot, 1993)
  • Upper Michigan Postal History and Postmarks by William J. Taylor (The Depot, 1988)


  • Index to 1840 Federal Population Census of Michigan edited by Estelle A. McGlynn (Detroit Society for Genealogical Research, 1977)
  • Internal Revenue Assessment Lists of Michigan, 1862-1866 from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (National Archives, 1973)
  • Michigan Censuses 1710-1830 Under the French, British and Americans by Donna Valley Russell (Detroit Society for Genealogical Research, 1982)
  • Michigan Veterans Serving with Allied Forces, 1917-1919: Census of World War I Veterans from the Michigan State Archives (filmed by the Family History Library, 1996)


  • Bench and Bar of Michigan: A Volume of History and Biography by George Irving Reed (Century Publishing and Engraving, ca. 1897)
  • Court Records, 1819-1857: Index to Cases, 1805-1857 from the Michigan Supreme Court (filmed by the Family History Library, 1974)
  • Records of the Territorial Court, Michigan, 1816-1836 from the Michigan Territorial Court (National Archives, 1988)


  • Early Michigan Settlements, 3 vols., by Warren Washburn Florer (W. W. Florer, ca. 1941-1953)
  • Declarations of Intentions, 1911-1930 from the US District Court (filmed by the Family History Library, 1986)


  • Land Records: AL, AR, FL, LA, MI, MN, OH, WI (Broderbund, 1996. CD ROM)
  • Michigan Cash and Homestead Entries from the US Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM Eastern States, 1994)
  • Private Land Claims, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin by Fern Ainsworth (Fern Ainsworth, 1985)


  • Annual Report of the Adjutant General 1865-1866, 3 vols., from the Michigan Adjutant General’s Office (John A. Kerr & Co., 1866)
  • Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Soldiers Who Served from the State of Michigan for the Patriot War, 1838-1839 from the US Adjutant General’s Office (National Archives, 1965)
  • Michigan Military Records by Sue Silliman (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1969)
  • Michigan in the War by John Robertson (W.S. George, 1882)
  • Michigan in the World War: Military and Naval Honors of Michigan Men and Women by Charles H. Landrum (Michigan Historical Commission, 1924)
  • Record of Service of Michigan Volunteers in the Civil War from the Michigan Adjutant General’s Office (Michigan Secretary of State, 1915)
  • Soldiers of the War of 1812, Who Died in Michigan by Alice Turner Miller (Alice Turner Miller, 1962)
  • United States Civil War Soldiers Living in Michigan in 1894 (Genealogists of Clinton County Historical Society, 1988)
  • United States Spanish War Veterans Master Index, ca. 1890-1984 from the Michigan State Archives (filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1991)
  • World War II Honor List of Dead and Missing, State of Michigan (War Dept. Bureau of Public Relations, 1946)


  • Cemetery Inscriptions, Michigan, 3 vols., by Edward H. Mohnecke (Edward H. Mohnecke, 1939-44)
  • Michigan Cemetery Compendium from Har-AlInc. (Har-Al, 1979)
  • Michigan Cemetery Source Book from the State Library of Michigan (State Library of Michigan, 1994)
  • Michigan Death Index, 1867-1874, 3 vols., (Michigan Department of Community Health, ca. 1997)
  • Michigan Quakers, Abstracts of Fifteen Meetings of the Society of Friends 1831-1860 by Ann and Conrad Burton (Glyndwr Resources, 1989)
  • Obituaries Index, 1933-1948 by Muriel Link (Genealogical Society of Utah, 1976)
  • Vital Statistics Holdings by Government Agencies in Michigan; Birth Records from the Historical Records Survey (The Project, 1941)
  • Vital Statistics Holdings by Government Agencies in Michigan; Death Records from the Historical Records Survey (The Project, 1942)
  • Vital Statistics Holdings by Government Agencies in Michigan; Marriage Records from the Historical Records Survey (The Project, 1941)

Return to the main Michigan page

From the Family Tree Sourcebook
Also available: the State Research Guide Book, State Research Guides CD and The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy.