Berrien County Genealogical Society

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Helping you on your genealogy journey.

Purpose of the Berrien County Genealogical Society is to:

  • Stimulate interest in genealogy
  • Acquire and share genealogical materials
  • Preserve records of ancestors in Berrien County
  • Assist genealogists in compiling their family genealogies and histories by holding regular educational meetings
Berrien County Genealogical Society
Established Fall 1971
Contact Info
Address P. O. Box 8808, Benton Harbor, MI 49023-8808
Website www.bcgensoc.com
Affiliations Michigan Genealogical Council

Benefits

  • Membership Benefits
    • New and Historic PastFinder Newsletters
    • Indexed Berrien County research data
    • Surname list posts on our website
    • Discount at BCGS events and on BCGS Publications
    • Opportunity to serve on a committee and eligible for Election to the BCGS Board
  • Non-Member Benefits on our website
    • Blank Genealogy Forms
    • Blank U. S. Census Forms
    • General Research tips on many subjects
    • Links to other research sites

History of the Society

  • Founded in the Fall of 1971 as The Genealogical Association of Southwest Michigan.  The name was changed in 2001 to Berrien County Genealogical Society to better reflect the region of emphasis.  The BCGS is a non-profit organization incorporated under Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(3).  The Society is an all-volunteer organization which is supported by dues and donations.  Researching our family history is a fun and exciting journey with many rewards. Members of the Berrien County Genealogical Society are at different levels of research, from the beginner to the advanced.  All those interested in genealogy are welcome at any event.

Society Officers

  • President -- Patsy Miller
  • Vice-President -- Aloma Custer
  • Treasurer -- Janice Plangger
  • Secretary -- Louise Chapman
  • Parliamentarian -- Connie Hutchinson
  • Director -- Alma Arent
  • Director -- Bob Cooley
  • Director -- Joyce Hudak
  • Director -- Margaret Van Hoeven

Society Projects

  • In keeping with our Society Purpose, following are some of the areas of record preservation
    • Compiling Cemetery Books
    • Pioneer Certificate Project
    • Cemetery Preservation
    • Scanning Documents

Current Projects

  • Adding Member Only content to our website
    • Completed Pioneer Certificate Pedigrees
    • Berrien County Histories with every name index
    • Donated Scrapbooks and Family Histories
    • Obituaries and Death Notices
    • School Yearbooks
    • Berrien County Church Histories and records
    • Berrien County Vital Record Index

FamilySearch Wiki Projects

  • None at this time

FamilySearch Wiki Page Adoptions

  • None at this time

Past Projects

  • Cemetery Indexing
  • Cemetery Clean-up and Headstone Repair

Blog

  • None at this time

Facebook page

Publications

Newsletters

  • The PastFinder is published quarterly featuring articles, book reviews, Bible records, old records, queries, etc. submitted by members.

Collections

  • Our library collection has over 600 items.  This includes close to 50 family genealogies along with an Ancestral file that is constantly growing.  Our collection is housed at the Berrien Springs Community Library, 215 W. Union Street, Berrien Springs, MI.  Visit our website to search our holdings:  http://www.bcgensoc.com/libraryRecords.php

Events

  • Events are held to further our Society Mission to promote interest, education, and good research practices in genealogy, as well as to gather, house and publish related materials, inclusive of original records.  Programs are scheduled and announced in the BCGS newsletter, via separate mailing, and on our website.  Other special meetings or programs may be scheduled by the Board and announced by email, mail, or via our website:  http://www.bcgensoc.com/eventListings.php?nm=19

Society Meetings

Workshops

Board Meetings

Training Meetings

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What are the directions to the society?

A.The Society holdings are located in the Berrien Springs Community Library. Event locations are listed on our website Events tab. The Society does not have a brick and mortar building.

Q. What are the society's hours of operation?

A. The Society holdings are available whenever the Berrien Springs Community Library is open. Visit our website Events tab for hours of our events.

Q. What is the cost to join the Society?

A. We have several options for membership. Visit our website for a membership application and brochure: http://www.bcgensoc.com/cpage.php?pt=36

Q. How do Members access online records?

A. Members can access all areas of our website by logging into their account.

Q. How do I submit a query?

A. Queries can be submitted via email to info@bcgensoc.com or via mail to BCGS, P. O. Box 8808, Benton Harbor, MI 49023-8808.

Q. How do I access the PastFinder newsletter?

A. Members receive the newsletter via mail or email depending upon their membership level. Historic issues are available to members on our website after logging in to their account.

Q. How do I purchase Cemetery Publications?

A. Visit our website BCGS Store tab: http://www.bcgensoc.com/store.php?sid=1 for a listing of our publication. Members should log-in to receive their discounted pricing. Orders can be placed online and paid via PayPal or mailed to BCGS, P. O. Box 8808, Benton Harbor, MI 49023-8808 with a check.

Nearby or Alternate Repositories

  • History Center at Courthouse Square, 313 N. Cass Street, P.O. Box 261, Berrien Springs, MI  49103 (269) 471-1202 Sept.-May: Monday-Friday 10:00-5:00, June-August: Monday-Saturday 10:00-5:00 http://www.berrienhistory.org/Archives
    • Marriage, Death, and Probate records pre 1930
    • Books and a variety of primary resources relevant to the history of the region
    • Research on-site by appointment or order records from the index list on the website
  • LDS Family History Center, 3653 Niles Road, St. Joseph, MI  49085
    • Berrien County Birth Records on Microfilm: 1867-1913 (Index to 1948)
    • Berrien County Marriage Record on Microfilm: 1831-1929 (Index to 1994)
    • Berrien County Death Records on Microfilm:  1867-1929 and 1934-1967 (Index to 1994)
  • Berrien County Clerk’s Office, County Records Department, 2100 East Empire, Benton Harbor, MI 49022 (269) 983-7111 Ext. 8233 Mondays 8:30-12:30, Wednesdays 8:30-4:30, Fridays 12:30-4:30 
    • Birth and Death records from 1867 and Marriage records from 1831
    • Birth records less than 100 years old are closed by state law.  Death and Marriage records are open to the public. 
    • Certified copies $13.00 for the first copy, $4.00 for each additional copy of the same record.  If the requested record is not found, the fee is retained for the search.  There is a $2.00 per year fee for additional searches for the same record.
  • Maud Preston Palenske Memorial Library, 500 Market Street, St. Joseph, MI  49085 (269) 983-7167 Monday-Thursday 10:00-9:00, Friday and Saturday 10:00-6:00 http://www.youseemore.com/maudpreston/default.asp
    • Newspapers on microfilm:  Herald-Palladium and its predecessors 1859-1894 Partial, 1895-Current Complete
    • Michigan Census Records 1830-1930
    • Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps for the City of St. Joseph
    • Reiser Funeral Home Records 1884-1948
    • Various City Directories 1896-Present
    • Various Years of Yearbooks:  Benton Harbor High School; Benton Harbor Junior High; Lake Michigan Catholic; Milton Junior High; St. Joseph Catholic High School; St. Joseph Junior High; St. Joseph High School; and Upton Middle School
    • Berrien County Plat Books/Land Atlases Various Years 1860-2000
    • DAR Cemetery Records for Berrien County persons born before 1867, Cemetery Records for Berrien County Cemeteries
    • Clippings on St. Joseph/Benton Harbor people; places; and events
    • Ship Records: Germans to America Jan. 1840 - Oct. 1848 & Jan. 1859 - June 1897; German Immigrants, New World Immigrants, Swiss (Volhynian) Mennonite Ship List 1874; Bibliography of Ship Passenger Lists 1538-1825; Passengers to America 
  • Niles District Library, 620 E. Main Street, Niles, MI  49120 (269) 683-8545 Monday-Thursday 9:00-8:00, Friday and Saturday 10:00-6:00 http://www.nileslibrary.com/
    • Berrien County Birth, Marriage, and Death Records on Microfilm:  Birth 1867-1913 (Index to 1948), Marriage 1831-1929 (Index to 1994), Death 1867-1929 and 1934-1967 (Index to 1994)
    • Microfilm: Niles newspapers 1835-Present; Three Oaks Acorn 1876-1960; Berrien County Record 1869-1935; Berrien Springs Journal Era 1873-1975; Buchanan Record 1885-1908; and some early 1800’s South Bend, IN newspapers
    • Obituary Index from Niles Library Historic Newspaper Holdings
    • Niles City Directories 1874-Present
    • Silverbrook Cemetery Records and other cemetery records for Cass and Berrien Counties and Michigan Cemetery Atlas
    • Niles (1913-Present) and Brandywine (1960-Present) High School Yearbooks, some Niles Elementary and Junior High Yearbooks
    • Many Michigan County histories, Magazines and Genealogical Society newsletters
  • Three Oaks Public Library, 3 N. Elm Street, Three Oaks, MI  49128 (269) 756-5621 Monday, Wednesday, & Friday 10-6; Tuesday & Thursday 10-8; Saturday 10-4 http://www.threeoaks.michlibrary.org/
    • We offer genealogy help on Wednesdays and Fridays to trace your family history
    • Index of the Three Oaks papers from the 1880's, including births, marriages and deaths 
    • Family history files and printed family histories
    • Plat maps and county atlases for rural areas as far back as 1860
    • Voter registration lists and tax records for Three Oaks village and township go back to 1856, when the township was created
    • Large collection of township and small town histories from the "Harbor Country" area
    • Yearbooks from Three Oaks High School, New Troy High School, and River Valley High School
  • Van Buren District Library, Webster Memorial Library Building, 200 N. Phelps Street, Decatur, MI 49045 (269) 423-4771 Monday-Friday 10:00-4:00, Saturday 9:00-3:00 http://www.vbdl.org/
    • Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren county microfilm of Birth, Marriage, Death, Naturalization, Tax, and Court records
    • Newspapers for communities in Allegan, Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren counties
    • Southwest Michigan Obituary Collection
    • Historical Plat books, Atlases, Cemetery Indexes and many other resources