March 17, 2009 – (RealEstateRama) — The Department of History, Arts and Libraries today announced the launch of the Seeking Michigan Web site (www.seekingmichigan.org), a growing collection of unique historical information that – through digitized source documents, maps, films, images, oral histories and artifacts – creatively tells the stories of Michigan’s families, homes, businesses, communities and landscapes.
Seeking Michigan’s first major project is the digitization of roughly 1 million death records covering the years 1897 through 1920. These records – never before available electronically – are indexed for easy searching by name, death date, location and age, and hold tremendous research opportunities for genealogists, historians and students.
Whether they are interested in Civil War records, photographs, architecture, music, photography or family history, Michigan enthusiasts are sure to discover a brand new side to Michigan through this unique online resource, a collaboration that has long been in the making between the Archives of Michigan and the Library of Michigan. Site design and digitization of resources were funded through various grants.
“Seeking Michigan takes great information from both of our agencies and makes it available to everyone in a convenient and easy-to-navigate Web site,” said State Librarian Nancy R. Robertson. “We were inspired by the state motto in designing the site. If you look, you will discover stories, photos and much more to connect you to our state’s pleasant peninsulas and one-of-a-kind past.”
With plans in place to add much more material, Seeking Michigan currently includes:
* More than 100,000 pages of Civil War documents;
* Approximately 10,000 photographs;
* A variety of Michigan sheet music;
* Roughly 1 million death records;
* A rich section about Michigan’s 44 past governors;
* Works Progress Administration data (circa 1936-1942) about land and buildings throughout rural Michigan; and
* Oral histories with notable Michigan residents.
According to Sandra Clark, director of the Michigan Historical Center, Seeking Michigan boldly moves the archives and library experience outside of the bricks and mortar of the building in which the collections are housed. By employing the latest Web technologies and social media, the site aims for an enhanced user experience. “We want to give visitors historical content and, whenever possible, the context for that content,” she explained. “For K-12 educators, there’s also a ‘teach’ page that links up with related resources and grade-level content expectations.”
Clark noted that Seeking Michigan will open up Michigan’s history to a whole new market of information hunters. “Seeking Michigan is definitely a big boost for those who already have an interest in our state’s history, including scholars, authors, genealogists and publishers,” she said. “What we’re very excited about is the prospect of introducing new generations of Michigan residents to the Michigan they thought they knew and helping them forge connections with our state’s remarkable past.”
Seeking Michigan was made possible with generous funding from the Talbert and Leota Abrams Foundation, a Lansing-based nonprofit that primarily focuses on funding library and educational science programs. Since the mid-1980s, the Abrams Foundation has provided more than $2.5 million toward the development of the Library of Michigan’s and Archives of Michigan’ genealogy collection, including the digitization of the death records so crucial to family historians’ research efforts. The National Historic Publications and Records Commission provided additional funding.
The Library of Michigan Foundation (www.michigan.gov/lmfoundation) and the Michigan History Foundation (www.michigan.gov/mhfoundation) helped facilitate the funding process for Seeking Michigan and provide donors the opportunity to contribute to Seeking Michigan and many other initiatives.
The Archives of Michigan is part of the Michigan Historical Center. The Michigan Historical Center and the Library of Michigan are agencies within the Department of History, Arts and Libraries (HAL). Dedicated to enriching quality of life and strengthening the economy by providing access to information, preserving and promoting Michigan’s heritage and fostering cultural creativity, HAL also includes the Mackinac Island State Park Commission and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs. To learn more, visit www.michigan.gov/hal.
Contact: Sarah Lapshan (517) 241-1736