Thursday, January 15, 2015

Last Friday's Meeting in Review: Using Macomb County Government Records

Today's post, written by MCGG Member Robert McGarry, reviews what attendees of last Friday's MCGG meeting learned about Macomb County Government Records from our guest speakers.

The presentation started with Craig Jones, Chief Deputy Registrar of Deeds.

The Deeds office is located in the Clemens Center behind Buffalo Wild Wings, and will remain in that location for about a year and a half.  The long term plan is to consolidate the Clerk's and Deed's offices together in the Talmer Bank Building, and build a secure record storage location where the Deed's office is currently located.

To access Deed Records, use the Superindex.  It contains an index and images for all Macomb County deed records going back to the beginning.  Approximately 7.4 million Records are indexed and accessible on this system.  Superindex is powered by Google so searches on the site utilize the familiar Google search engine. (Note: only this specific Superindex will search these records; a general Google search will not find these records.)

Fees for actual copies at this time are $6.00 for the first record, and $1.00 for each additional record ordered in that session.  The site uses Google Wallet for payment but PayPal should be available shortly.

The presentation continued on with Brian Brdak, Supervisor of Records, talking about available records from the Clerk's office.

Birth records are closed for 100 years after the birth.  During that time only the person named on the record, or their parents, named on the record can access it.  In the event the person is deceased, a relative can access the record with the person’s death certificate, and other records proving their relationship.  If the death certificate is on file with the Macomb County Clerk, and can be accessed by records, you don't need to provide a certified copy.  Records including record books that are over 100 years old are available for public inspection.

Death records are available back to 1867.  They are imaged and indexed from about 1958 forward.  One of the problems that the clerk's office runs into when helping residents is that the death record is filed in the County in which the death occurred not the county of residence so you need to know where a person died.  Older records need to come out of archives and may no be immediately available.  An on-line index is available at: .

There were some questions about Burial Transfer Certificates, or Burial Permits, and who had them.  Brian was unaware of them but he said he would get back to the group on that.

Marriage licenses are available to the public after they are returned.  Macomb County has Marriage Records dating back to 1819.  Early records consist of registers with the licenses coming to more modern records.  Marriage license application affidavits are closed records and are not available.  

Military records, discharges, form DD214 or equivalent for service personnel who filed them with the clerk's office are available to the Veteran. If the veteran is deceased their spouse, or descendants, with proof of the Veteran's death can get a copy.  Remember, not every veteran filed their discharge with the clerk's office. 

The clerk's office has Genealogy Days & Times in which they will allow people doing research to inspect publicly available records on their own.  These times are on the Clerk's office website at: .  For access at other times call the Clerk's office.

A question came up regarding "Secret Marriages." According to Brian, in Michigan a person needs to be 18 years or older to apply for a Marriage License.  A 16 or 17 year old, can be married with a parent's consent.  Those licenses are issued by the clerk's office but additional paperwork with the parental consent being retained by the clerk.  These are treated like any other Marriage License.  Individuals younger than 16 can petition the probate court, and with an order of the probate judge, they are issued a marriage license by the probate court.  The completed Marriage License is retained by the probate court in a sealed record.

Brian left copies of his business card, and a handout, both of which are available in the Genealogy Room at the MCPL.


Thank you Bob for writing this review of the meeting. In addition, remember that many Michigan vital records are available online.

FamilySearch - a FREE website of the Latter Day Saints of Jesus Christ (LDS)/Mormons
The LDS have been digitizing the microfilm collections and other records (with permission of the record owners) and placing them on their website, FamilySearch. Find the digitized collections from the homepage by clicking on search, scrolling down to browse by location and then clicking on the region you desire. So after you select United States, either scroll down the list of databases to find Michigan or in the left column scroll down to click Michigan to see just the Michigan databases.

Here you will find:
Michigan, Births, 1867-1902 (index and record images, from Michigan Department of Vital and Health Records)
Michigan, Marriages, 1867-1925 (index and record images, from Michigan Department of Vital and Health Records)
Michigan, Deaths, 1867-1897 (index and record images, from Michigan Department of Vital and Health Records)
Michigan, Death Certificates, 1921-1952 (index only, from Michigan Department of Vital and Health Records)
Michigan, County Marriages, 1820-1935 (index and images)
Michigan Death Index, 1971-1996 (index only from Michigan Department of Vital and Health Records, provided by

There are also a couple of index only databases (Births & Christenings, Marriages, and Deaths & Burials) that are comprised of former parts of the International Genealogical Index (IGI) or Vital Records Index collections. You would need to check each entry to determine the original source of the information (extract from an original record or submission from a person).

SeekingMichigan - a FREE website of the Archives of Michigan
The Archives of Michigan's SeekingMichigan website is where you will find the Michigan Death Certificates Collection 1897-1920. These records are from the Michigan Department of Vital and Health Records. Use the Advanced Search and only search one database at a time in order to get filters specialized for the death certificates. There is no Soundex option in this search engine.

According to our speaker from the Archives of Michigan back in November and the latest Michigan Genealogical Council newsletter, hopefully within the next three to six months the Michigan Death Certificates 1921 through 1938 will be added to the SeekingMichigan site. Additional years will be added as the law allows. Library Edition - a $ PAY-service via home or library subscription
Ancestry is a commercial website. If you don't have a home subscription, then come into the Mt. Clemens Public Library and you can use the library's subscription. (Or check to see if your local library has a subscription.)

On Ancestry's website, you'll find the following index databases under Michigan:

Michigan Death Records 1897-1920 is an index to the death certificates found at SeekingMichigan. This database index has the Soundex search option and links to take you to the images on SeekingMichigan.

Michigan, Deaths, 1971-1996 (index only, original data from the Michigan Department of Vital and Health Records)

There are a couple other index only databases for vitals records that are based on the index only databases located at FamilySearch. Again, check where the information came from for each entry.

Related to civil vital records are church vital records. Ancestry has a database with index and record images called Early US French Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection, 1695-1954). It contains records for a variety of states. For Michigan, there are several Catholic churches, including records earlier than when the State of Michigan began recording vital records.

See you soon at the Mt. Clemens Public Library!


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