Finding Your Washtenaw County Ancestors

  • The boundaries of Washtenaw County were established on 10 September 1822 from the parent counties of Wayne and Oakland. The first settlements were established in 1823-1824.
  • Washtenaw County was officially organized on January 1, 1827, when some record-keeping began. The county seat is in Ann Arbor.

Archives and Libraries

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Atlases and Maps

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Bible Records

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Cemetery Records

  • "Washtenaw County MI Cemetery Records," LDS Genealogy
    • Cemetery records listed at major websites by location: Ancestry, Archive Grid, Billion Graves, Family History Library, Find a Grave, Genealogy Trails, Interment.net, JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR), MyHeritage, National Cemery Administration, USGenWeb Archives, WorldCat
  • FamilySearch: Washtenaw County Cemeteries in the FamilySearch Catalog
  • Billion Graves: Washtenaw County cemeteries with over 20 images (FamilySearch index)
  • Find A Grave: Washtenaw County cemetery memorials (FamilySearch index)
  • Interment.net: Washtenaw County cemetery transcriptions

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Census Records

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Church Records

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City and County Directories

  • "Washtenaw County, Michigan, Online Historical Directories," Miriam J. Robbins, Online Historical Directories
  • "Your Guide to Finding Ancestors in City Directories," Barbara Snow, Genealogy Research Guides
  • Washtenaw County Directories: 1965/66-1973, 1975-1989/90, 1991/92, 1993/94. [L/M JS3.M52 W3z]
    • Ann Arbor city and Washtenaw County directory for 1886-7: containing an alphabetically arranged list of business firms, farmers and private citizens, a classified list of all trades, professions and pursuits, a miscellaneous directory of city and county officers, public and private schools, banks, churches, incorporated institutions, secret and benevolent societies, etc.,  1886. [L/M MICROFICHE LH5296]
  • "Washtenaw County MI City Directories," LDS Genealogy

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Courthouse Records

  • Wills and estates beginning in 1827 (1837 per FamilySearch Wiki) are at the Probate Court office. See sections on Land Records. and Vital Records below.

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Families of Washtenaw County

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Genealogical and Historical Societies

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Land Records

  • Washtenaw County deeds and mortgages begin in 1827 (1835 per FamilySearch Wiki) and are at the Register of Deeds office. The GSWC Library has microfilm copies of the grantor/grantee indexes, 1827-1905.

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Local History

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Military Records

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Newspapers and Obituaries

  • A History of the Newspapers of Ann Arbor, 1829-1920, Louis W. Doll. Detroit, Wayne State University Press, 1959, 184 pgs. (download pdf)
  • Digital Michigan Newspaper Portal: 66 listings for Washtenaw County, Clarke Historical Library
  • Newspapers at the Library of Michigan:
    • Ann Arbor News, 1937-2009
    • Chelsea Standard, 1908-2013
    • Dexter Leader, 1869-1970
    • Manchester Enterprise, 1867-1991
    • Ypsilanti Sentinel, 1844-1880
    • The One Hundred-Fifty Years of History: The Ann Arbor News, 1835-1985. ed. Adaline Adams. Ann Arbor, Mich.: Ann Arbor News, 1985. (facimiles) [Oversize AP2.A5 A55 1985]
  • "Ann Arbor Newspapers at Google News," 1855-2009, GSWC
  • Newspapers at Ann Arbor District Library:
    • Ann Arbor News, 11 June 2003 - 23 July 2009; 1 Jan 2016 - present
    • Old News / About Old News (transcribed articles)
      • Agenda, 1986-1998
      • Ann Arbor Argus, 1888-1898
      • Ann Arbor Argus-Democrat, 1898-1899
      • Ann Arbor Courier, 1880-1888
      • Ann Arbor Democrat, 1880-1898
      • Ann Arbor News, 1927-2009
      • Ann Arbor Register, 1880-1899
      • Ann Arbor Sun, 1967-1976
      • Michigan Argus, 1860-1879
      • Signal of Liberty, 1841-1848, and Michigan Liberty Press, 1848
    • "Community Collections: Old News Photos"
  • Newspapers at Chelsea District Library:
    • Search Newspapers, ...by Publication, ...by Year, Tutorial
      • Chelsea Standard, 1890-1893
      • The Chelsea Herald, 1873-1909
      • The Chelsea Standard, 1895-2019
      • The Chelsea Standard-Herald, 1906-1908
      • The Chelsea Tribune, 1917-1923
      • The Dexter Leader, 1988
      • The Sun Times News, 2010-2019
      • Washtenaw Now, 2010-2019
    • "Family History Index Online" (obituaries, etc.)
      • Click on the surname link to get details for that person.
  • Newspapers at Milan Public Library
    • Ethnic Newpapers and Periodicals in Michigan: A Checklist. Richard J. Hathaway, ed. Michigan Archival Association, 1978. [LH&G 070.03 ETHNIC]
    • Milan Newspapers: Index to Microfilm and Microfiche. comp. Millard Frank Phillips. 1995. [LH&G 070.1 MILAN]
  • Newspapers at Manchester District Library
    • Index to the Manchester Enterprise, vol. 1-50, Oct 1867-Sept 1916, comp. Alan Frank Dyer. [REF 071.7435 DYE V.1] [REF 071.7435 DYE V.2]
  • Newspapers at Northfield Township Area Library
    • Celebrating Our History: 160 Years of the Ann Arbor News. Marceline, Mo.: Heritage House, 1995. [MICH 977.435 Cel] (photographs submitted readers)
  • Newspapers at Saline District Library
    • Newspaper Genealogical Column Directory, 4th edition. Anita Cheek Milner. Bowie, Md.: Heritage Books, 1989. [LH 929.302 Mil]
    • Ann Arbor News (formerly Ann Arbor.com), twice weekly. [News AAN]
    • Ann Arbor Observer. Ann Arbor, Mich.: Ann Arbor Observer Co. [News Obs]
    • Saline Review. [LH Microfilm SRe] (digital version online)
    • Washtenaw Now, 10 April 2014 - 25 June 2015, Heritage Papers, Saline, Mich., weekly. [LH 977.4 Was]. PDF files on 3 CDs, searchable. "Merger of Chelsea Standard, Dexter Leader, Manchester Enterprise, Milan News-Leader, Saline Reporter, Ypsilanti Courier." Back issues on microfilm since 1995. [News Wash]
  • Newspapers at Ypsilanti District Library
    • Ethnic Newpapers and Periodicals in Michigan: A Checklist. Richard J. Hathaway, ed. Michigan Archival Association, 1978. [RMC 070.172 Mic]
    • Historical Perspective: A Selective Look at the Past Through Ypsilanti Newspapers, Ann Smith, 1983. [REF MICHIGAN 977.435 Yps no. 8]
  • Newspapers at Chronicling America
    • The Ypsilanti Daily Press, 1940-1946
    • Ypsilanti Sentinel, 1843-1848
  • Online Historical Newspapers: Michigan, Miriam Robbins Midkiff
  • "Washtenaw County MI Newspapers and Obituaries," LDS Genealogy
  • Washtenaw County Obituaries from the MIGenWeb Archives, MIGenWeb

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Queries and Lookups

  • Queries in Family History Capers (members only), GSWC
    • Search for "queries" in the Capers Subject Index.
  • Submit a query to be published in Family History Capers.
    • GSWC members can submit a query about any ancestor.
    • Non-members can submit a query about Washtenaw County ancestors.

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Research Assistance and Where to Write

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Vital Records

Vital Records from the Washtenaw County Clerk/Register's Office:

  1. Search and order marriage and death records (1959 to present)
  2. Order birth and death records (1867 to present) 
  3. Order marriage licenses (1833 to present)
ABOUT VITAL RECORDS
  • Clerk/Register of Deeds, Washtenaw County Clerk/Register of Deeds
    • Records Search, Self Service Web - Vital Records
      • Marriage Record Search (after January 1959)
      • Marriage Records before January 1959, contact Vital Records (734-222-6720).
      • Death Certificate Search (after January 1959)
      • Death Certificates before January 1959, contact Vital Records (734-222-6720).
      • Business Name Search
      • How Do I... request land records and genealogy records (birth, marriage, death)
      • Form: Request for Certified Copies (birth, marriage, death), Washtenaw County Clerk's Office
      • Birth, marriage, and death records starting in 1867 are at the County Clerk's office.
BIRTHS
MARRIAGES
DEATHS

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Washtenaw County Bibliography and Publications

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Washtenaw County Cities, Villages, and Townships

Michigan has cities and villages, but not towns. Whenever the word "town" is used here, such as in census records, it means "township". Townships comprise 96% of Michigan lands outside of cities. See "Townships in Michigan" with a state map from Michigan Townships Association.

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Washtenaw County Web Pages

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Updated 6/12/22 -slb