BCGS was founded in the Fall of 1971 as The Genealogical Association of Southwest Michigan. The name was change 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 meeting.
The Society's Board of Directors organizes current activities, initiates new areas of Society involvement, and is the driving force for membership participation. The Board supervises the finances of the Society in keeping within the mandates of the members and the Society's By Laws, and is responsible for administrative directions of its Committees.
We maintain a collection of genealogy resource material at the Berrien Springs Community Library, 215 West Union Street, Berrien Springs, Michigan. The Family History Room is open to the general public for research during library hours Monday - Thursday 10 AM - 8 PM, Friday 10 AM - 6 PM, Saturday 10 AM - 4 PM, and Sunday Closed. A searchable listing of the collection can be found on the Library/Archive
page on our website.
Annual membership is open to anyone interested in researching their ancestors. Our membership year runs from January 1 through December 31. Anyone joining after October 1 will be credited for the next years membership. All members are invited to submit for publication news articles and queries. We invite you to become a member and enjoy the many benefits of belonging to a local genealogical society including:
- Monthly meetings on genealogy topics and computer use where we learn new methods and techniques for researching our ancestors.
- Monthly workshops where we use the new methods we have learned.
- Back issues of The PastFinder on this website.
- Access to the expanding Members Only areas of our website which includes information on Berrien County ancestors including cemetery information, burial records, death records, and newspaper obituaries.
- Participation in the Surname Research feature on this website.
- Members may submit queries to be printed in The PastFinder free of charge and as often as desired, space permitting.
- Speaker handouts.
- A 10% discount on books published by BCGS.
- Opportunity to meet other genealogists, share ideas, build new friendships, and even find cousins you didn’t know you had.
A Membership form can be downloaded here.
Make checks payable to BCGS and mail to: P.O. Box 8808, Benton Harbor, MI 49023-8808.
Annual Membership Levels: Individual Membership: $15.00, Family Membership: $25.00 (2 people, one household), Organization Membership: $15.00
The Society newsletter, The PastFinder
, is published quarterly. Information about submissions can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
. Back issues for members are located on this website on the Newsletter
page under the Members tab. Submissions to The PastFinder
are encouraged. These may include family genealogies, queries, and genealogical or historical articles. If you wish to submit material for publication, please contact us at email@example.com
. We also have published cemetery books that index most of the Berrien County Cemeteries. Check our Store page (Coming Soon) for a list of these publications.
BCGS offers meetings on genealogy topics designed for all members and guests at 7:00 p.m. on the third Tuesday of the month. Our regular meeting place is the LDS Family History Center, 3653 Niles Road, St. Joseph
, unless otherwise noted. We offer monthly programs and the opportunity to meet other genealogists who may help you in the search for your ancestors. We hold our annual banquet in December. Meeting information; time, location, and topic; are posted on the Home
pages. Watch for details on our website and in the local newspapers.
BCGS partners with the LDS Family History Center to offer workshops at 7:00 p.m. on the third Tuesday of the month at the LDS Family History Center, 3653 Niles Road, St. Joseph
. Workshop topics are posted on the Home
pages. Workshops are designed to complement the monthly meetings by allocating time to apply the monthly research methods to your own research.
BCGS holds monthly Board of Director meetings at 7:00 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month. Members Bob and Nancy Cooley have graciously opened their home at 3871 Meadow Lane, St. Joseph for our meetings. All current members are invited to attend our Board meetings. The agenda includes discussing upcoming programs, planning new projects, and directing the future of the Society.
We are currently involved in several extraction and digitization projects. We welcome volunteers for these projects. If you wish to participate, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
or notify a Board member at any meeting or workshop. All skill levels are welcome. We also promote the research and chronicling of documents to award your Berrien County ancestor a Pioneer Certificate. More information can be found on our Pioneer Certificates
- Provide educational opportunities for genealogists and family history researchers through meetings and workshops.
- Encourage family history and genealogical research and promote scientific methods of research.
- Promote the study of history, geography and the social customs of our ancestors.
- Preserve and save from destruction any and all vital records having any degree of genealogical significance.
- Make available to the public general knowledge concerning the availability of records and their place of storage.
- Foster the compilation of available records in forms that will increase their usefulness.
- Collect, preserve and publish genealogical information for Berrien County.