Michigan Quakers: Their History and Records

March 13th, 2018 by National Genealogical Society Blog Editor

TITLE: Michigan Quakers: Their History and the Records They Left


TIME & DATE: Friday, 04 May 2018, 2:30 p.m.

Quakers, members of the Religious Society of Friends, began settling in southern Michigan as early as 1824. Quakers have a fascinating history, and they left genealogically rich records that give us fascinating insights into their everyday lives. But finding our ancestors in these records takes a bit of specialized knowledge, which we’ll cover in this presentation. We’ll look at how to find not only vital records but also records that show us where these people came from and where they migrated to. We’ll look at how to identify their family, associates, and neighbors and learn about how they interacted.

Many Michigan Quakers moved north to work in the lumber industry or purchase cheap farm land and left their faith behind them. They joined whatever church was available in their new home and their descendants continued to belong to their new faith. Many Michigan folks with Protestant heritage may be surprised to find they have Quaker ancestors.

While many Quakers in early North America owned slaves, members of the Society of Friends came to believe that slavery was evil and many became active abolitionists. Quakers in southeastern Michigan were in a particularly good position to assist escaped slaves because Canada was right across the Detroit River. We’ll cover the history of the Underground Railroad in Michigan and resources for learning more about the conductors and “passengers” in this remarkable network.

My other presentations at the conference will be “From Nails to Plows: Blacksmiths and Their Contributions to Midwestern Development” (T209, Thursday, 3 May, at 8:00 a.m.) and “Reconstructing the Lives of Your Farming Ancestors” (T229, Thursday, 3 May, at 11:00 a.m.).

Filling in the stories of our ancestors is what excites me most about my genealogical research. I’m happy to chat one-on-one with attendees who are interested in learning more about reconstructing their ancestors’ lives.

ABOUT: Annette Burke Lyttle is a professional genealogist, writer, and speaker. She specializes in helping people uncover and share their family stories. Her website is Heritage Detective (http://heritagedetective.com).