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November 7, 2011

Dear Fellow Genealogist,

The fall season is upon us.  I love this time of year.  I love Michigan and the distinctive changes of season.  The fall season is probably one of my favorite.  I love apple and pumpkin pie made with Michigan apples and pumpkins along with warm apple cider, the color of the trees as they change from green to orange and red, and the drop in temperature as we finally leave the 90’s and100’s behind.

There is a saying that the only certainty in life is death and taxes.  I would like to add one more to that list, and that is change.  Like the changes of season in Michigan, change is a constant.  Change can be good and change can be bad, but we have the power, by changing our attitudes, to make change for the better.

In September, I spoke at our delegate meeting about more changes that may be implemented at the Michigan Department of Education/Library of Michigan (MDE/LOM).  I have not put anything out about these proposed changes in writing as the situation is still very fluid and I do not want to put out misinformation.  Everything I write in this day and age goes out on the internet and Facebook/Twitter accounts, as well as newsletters, etc. Having said that, I’d like to take this opportunity to inform you of what I do know.

The MDE/LOM was created for the support of state government.  It started out more as a law library housed in the state capitol, and over the years, state librarians have taken the library into different directions and have opened their doors for use by the public. However, their mission was never changed to reflect the changes the previous state librarians’ implemented.  Now in a time of belt tightening, the current management has chosen to go back to their core mission, and that is to serve state government.  They have that legal right.

However, as we all know, the legislature has written language in the MDE’s budget that states the MDE/LOM will maintain the non-Michigan genealogy collection and make that collection available to the public.  However, there was no funding attached with that language, which forces the library to use their remaining dwindling resources to support a collection that does not fit their core mission.

So in the meantime, this collection remains on the shelves with nothing being added, no repairs being made, and very limited staff time to support the collection and the public that uses those collections.

Staff time is more than the librarian on the floor, but also includes the people behind the scenes processing donations.  There is staff that work behind the scenes to catalog, bind, etc. before items are put on the shelf for our use.  Due to limited resources, the MDE/LOM is currently focusing their resources to processing donations that fit into their core mission.  Therefore, please note that if you wish to make a donation, you may receive a letter referring you to Mark Harvey, State Archivist at the Department of Natural Resources/Archives of Michigan (DNR/AOM), which is part of the Michigan Historical Center.  Mr. Harvey has expressed verbally to our board that they are willing to consider donations of materials that have not been accepted by the MDE/LOM. However, this will be on a case-by-case basis.

When you think about it, what is the core mission of a state Archives? That is to preserve the history of the state and educate the public on the state’s history.  Michigan is very fortunate to have Mark as our Archivist and Sandra as the director of the Michigan Historical Center. They value family historians/genealogists and understand the link with history and the people who make that history, from the general down to the private.  They understand that everyone’s story needs to be told and therefore welcome family historians to come and use their collections.

Therefore, I as President of MGC, with the approval of the full board, made a formal written request to Sandra Clark, Director, Michigan Historical Center requesting that she pursue talks with the MDE/LOM regarding the possible transfer of genealogical materials (both Michigan and non-Michigan) from the MDE/LOM to the DNR/AOM.  Let me make this clear, these are only items in the collection that are genealogical in nature and that the MDE/LOM does not feel supports their mission.  There will be many items that we use, such as the Michigan newspapers and Michigan city directories, that may remain at MDE/LOM.  We will keep you updated as to the outcome of these talks as we are able.

I think back 15 years ago when I first started attending meetings at my local genealogical society.  Personal computers and the internet were just starting to become the rage.  I can remember board members being very upset that people would be willing to use this technology to do research.  People came in excited about a “find” on the internet, only to have a room of 90 people or more laugh at them.  No “self-respecting genealogist” would ever use the internet.  This is a position that has hurt many societies, some to the point of extinction, as they realized too late the boon this technology is to genealogists.

I understand everyone’s passion and wanting to do something to fix this situation and to have things remain the same.  I understand that change is hard.  However, I ask that you please sit back and let these talks proceed.

In the meantime, I leave you with this task to consider both personally and as a society.  While there are a lot of states that have great libraries, I ask that you work with Mark and Sandra to help them make Michigan stand out as having one of the best state Archives in the country.  Join me to work with them to educate our community about the value of an Archive.  Also take this opportunity to help them take advantage of those tourism dollars and tell the story of Michigan’s families.  Let’s work to bring those tourists back to Michigan and introduce them to not just the library, but to the entire building which was built for that purpose.  Let us be an instrument for positive change.

I wish you and yours a safe and happy holiday season,

Cynthia Grostick, President
Michigan Genealogical Council

Early bird registration continues until October 19, 2011, so there are only a few days remaining until the full workshop registration rate kicks in for the October Michigan Genealogical Council / Archives of Michigan Family History Month Workshop.  Full details are available at http://mimgc.org/MGCworkshop.  This workshop will take place at the Michigan Historical Center, home of the Archives of Michigan, in Lansing on Saturday, October 29, 2011 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  There will also be a two session FREE workshop on Friday afternoon, October 28 at the same location.

August 25, 2011

To All Michigan Genealogists,

It is with great sadness that I have to announce the passing this morning of a beloved friend to genealogists in this state, Mrs. Barbara Brown.  Barbara was president of the Abrams Foundation.

Anyone in the community with an interest in researching family history in Michigan has been touched by Barbara and the Abrams Foundation.  Barbara leaves a lasting legacy as you cannot go into the Library of Michigan, the Archives of Michigan or visit the SeekingMichigan.org website without touching books or microfilm or seeing scanned images that does not owe its existence to Barbara and the Abrams Foundation. 

I’ve had the privilege of meeting with Barbara on several occasions over the past few years.  She is a wonderful lady who truly has a passion for family history, and for sharing that passion with others by making records available to the general public. 

It has been a joy to speak with Barbara over the past few years, not just about her beloved collections at the Library, but on other topics as well.  We are both cat lovers and had wonderful conversations about our cat’s behavior.  I thank God for those memories.  I will not forget her.

We have been informed that visitation is Sunday from 1-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. at the Pixley Funeral Home in Rochester.  The funeral will be held on Monday at 10 a.m. at the funeral home.

Please join me in holding her family in our thoughts and prayers.  Barbara will be truly missed.

Sincerely,
Cynthia S. Grostick
President
Michigan Genealogical Council

Its last call for the 2011 Abrams Genealogy Seminar at the Michigan Historical Center in Lansing next Saturday, July 16.  This seminar Our keynote speaker will be David Rencher, Chief Genealogical Officer at FamilySearch.  The 2011 Michigan Abrams Genealogy Seminar is co-sponsored by the Abrams Foundation, Michigan History Foundation and Michigan Genealogical Council.

David will present two topics on Saturday.

  • Effective Use of the Family History Library Catalog
  • Sources and Methods for British Genealogical Research

Other topics and speakers for the afternoon sessions are:

  • How My Michigan Ancestors Have Made Me A Better Genealogist with Jan Alpert.
  • Beginning Genealogy with Sam Pardee
  • Interpreting Vital Records in Latin, Polish and Czech with Kamila P. Mazurek
  • Sibling Connection with Cynthia Grostick
  • The 1st Michigan Colored Troops in the Civil War (102nd U.S.C.T.) with James Jackson
  • Changes in the Land: Land Record Research in Michigan with Mark Harvey, State Archivist

At the conclusion of the afternoon sessions, a Tour of the Archives of Michigan will be available.

In addition, the Archives Research room will be open from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Registration this final week is $45 and includes a box lunch if you register before Wednesday, July 13.  The lunches must be ordered on that day, so all registrations received July 13 and after will not be guaranteed a lunch.  We expect to order a few additional box lunches, however we cannot guarantee a lunch to walk-ins and those received July 13 and later.

Additional details may be found on our website below.

Online registration  http://seekingmichigan.myshopify.com/products/abrams-genealogy-seminar
Mail in registration http://mimgc.org/2011Abrams/registration.pdf
Information           http://mimgc.org/2011AbramsSeminar

HAVE YOU EVER HUGGED A MUSEUM?

The Genealogical Society of Monroe County (GSMC) members
are inviting everyone to join them to support the Monroe
County Historical Museum at this time of financial crisis.

Come to the Museum, 126 E.  Monroe St
in Monroe on Saturday, December 18th
by 10:00 a.m.  to join hand in hand to
HUG the MUSEUM.

An Open House right afterwards will give everyone
a chance to view the wonderful Christmas Exhibits,
the Made in Michigan Exhibits, the Custer Exhibit,
and many other Monroe County displays.

Genealogical Society members will be available
to discuss genealogical research and the
Museum Staff will be available to explain
how to become a Museum Volunteer or
how to join the Friends of the Museum.

Refreshments Will Be Served.
10:00 a.m.  Museum Opens  ~  5:00 p.m.  Museum Closes

This tells about the event.  GSMC members have planned to let the citizens of Monroe County know what a jewel we have right here in Monroe.  Due to budget constraints, the funding for the museum has been drastically cut.  The final decision of the Board of Commissioners will be made next week.  There have been many plans discussed and the latest one developed would be a  one year .006 tax placed on county property owners.  The ideas have run the gamut.

So the HUG THE MUSEUM and an OPEN HOUSE was designed to see if we could interest county residents to stop by and SEE what the Museum has to offer and to meet the knowledgeable staff members who provide the services.  The genealogical society members offered to sponsor the events for the day.

Pleasel join us outside the museum at 10:00 a.m.  next Saturday, and the HUG will “officially” happen at 10:30.  but we need everyone there so we can get everyone in place on time.

We will be serving coffee (reg & decaf), punch and cookies.  If you would like to bring a dozen cookies, you can take them into the museum to the room at the back on the 1st floor.  We would like everyone to be a “host or hostess” to welcome the visitors and direct them to various places in the building, Let them know why YOU like the museum.

Things you might like to mention:

Christmas trees and wreaths around the building are labeled with the group that brought the display.

Various other exhibits are on display on the first floor, including maps of Monroe County in early years, items from Kaye Lani Rae Rafko, former Miss America, a museum store and artifacts from various Monroe County manufactures and model rooms.

The 2nd floor can be reached by stairs or an elevator.  There are restrooms on each floor.

The Museum Archives houses many Monroe County vital records, information on many families of Monroe Co., the fabulous obituary collection with thousands of former Monroe county residents.  If they have a question about a Monroe County ancestor, this is a great place to stop.  The Custer exhibit and the Mad in Michigan displays are here also.

At the opposite end of the building, is the Archives for the Genealogical Society of Monroe County.  We are touting our latest collection :The Betty Gay Collection.  Mrs.  Gay collected information on many Monroe county citizens and when she passed away.  her family graciously gave us all of her research materials, which have now been indexed.  We have copies of the books that our
society publishes, and copies are for sale.  We have someone who can help with German research and someone who can help with French research.  We have Ancestry.com on our computer to further assist our clients.  We also have some family histories, books from foreign countries , other states and counties.

And, yes, you can do genealogical research if you’d like on Saturday if you wish.

We hope you can ALL come on Saturday.  The weatherman says it will be cold, but sunny.  Dress warmly.  You’ll probably be outside about 45 manures.

Our purpose is to show visitors how valuable this building is to Monroe County and that we want it to stay open with adequate staffing.

We will have some signs for people to carry, if they wish.  They are all POSITIVE in nature ( “Dear Santa, please keep out Museum open””, “I LOVE (with a heart) our Museum”.  etc.  WE do have to leave room for people to walk on the sidewalk and we cannot be out in the street.  We do have a permit to do this, also.  the Mayor, the City Manager and the City Police Chief all approved what we are doing.

Hope to see you Saturday.

Genealogical Society of Monroe County

The following changes were announced Monday, December 6, 2010 by the Library of Michigan and are posted on their website http://michigan.gov/libraryofmichigan.  Effective with the new year, Saturday hours will be eliminated, and several circulation changes implemented.

Due to significant reductions in the Library of Michigan’s operations funding and staffing, the Library is implementing the following changes:

1) Materials from the Library of Michigan’s collections will be available for in-library use only.  As of January 3, 2011, circulation of these items will be offered on a limited basis to state government employees to conduct state business.  The Library of Michigan collections will be available to the general public for use in the library.

2) The Library of Michigan no longer will borrow materials from other libraries (interlibrary loan) for public patrons starting January 3, 2011.  This service will continue to be available for state government employees as it relates to their state work.

3) The Library of Michigan will not be a participating MeLCat library beginning January 3, 2011.  Public and state government patrons currently using MeLCat through the Library of Michigan should talk with their local library about MeLCat participation.

4) Beginning January 1, 2011 the Library of Michigan will be open to the public Monday through Friday and will be closed on Saturday and Sunday.

Library of Michigan update

Dear genealogists,

You may have heard of an anonymous 27-page document circulating in government circles that gives suggestions on how to cut almost $3 billion from the State of Michigan budget for the Fiscal 2011-2012 year.  Among the possibilities floated in this document are:

  • Eliminate funding for the Library of Michigan.  This would eliminate all staff and make collections inaccessible to the public.

  • Eliminate State Aid to Michigan Libraries.  This would result in the loss of $5.6 million in federal matching funds, which are used to support the Michigan eLibrary (MeL) and the Michigan eLibrary Catalog (MeLCat).
  • Privatize Higher Education facilities.
  • Shift much of the State funding for Community Colleges to K-12 School Aid funds.
  • Eliminate Veterans Service Organization funding, to name just a few.

With the Governor-elect Snyder’s transition staff calling the Michigan Library and Historical Center their home base for the transition period before he takes office, it is an opportunity for us to make a positive impact by using the collections available to us as genealogists and historical researches.

Over the past decade, the Library of Michigan was absorbed by the Michigan Department of Education and its appropriation cut by 2/3 or nearly $24.0 million, leaving a total appropriation of $11.0 million in fiscal 2009-10.

Earlier this year, the Michigan Center for Reinvention and Innovation reaffirmed the Michigan Library and Historical Center as the “people’s building” one of very few government buildings that are completely open to the public.  Their final report also urged the historical and genealogical collections remain in the building and to be accessible to researchers.

The Michigan Library and Historical Center is a popular destination for Lansing visitors.  Next to the Capitol and Michigan State University, it is the third most popular destination in the Greater Lansing Area.  We are on the eve of the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War beginning next year, and the Bi-centennial of the War of 1812 the following year, the demand for these state and national treasures from the Archives and Library will increase.

Over the next several weeks, please try to make an extra visit to the Library of Michigan and the Archives of Michigan to show by example how important it is to keep these collections available to the public.  Please urge the members of your society to do the same.  These collections and records are not limited to genealogists, but are used by historical researchers of all types.  Write a letter to the new administration and let them know how important these collections are to the citizens of our great State.

Best wishes,
Michigan Genealogical Council

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