HWB Local History Department


The Local and Family History Department of Willard Library is located in the Helen Warner Branch Library at 36 Minges Creek Place (off Beckley Road, just south of I-94).  The hours are Monday-Thursday, 10-8, Friday 10-6, Saturday 10-5, and Sunday 1-5, between Labor Day and Memorial Day.

Remote Access with Library Card

City Directories (1890-1923)        HeritageQuest      Newspapers (1846-1923)      Newspapers (2002-Present)

Probate Index (1835-1915)     Historic Maps (1884-1932)     Yearbooks (1894-2003)

On-Site Access

AmericanAncestors      Ancestry      City Directories (1923-1960)      HeritageQuest      Newspapers (1923-present)

Open Access

Genealogy Links     History Links     Local Historical Images     Newspaper Index (1967-Mar 2012)   Tales of Battle Creek

Beyond These Gates 


Online Local History and Genealogy Resources

Most Popular Genealogy Databases
(on-site only)
(on-site only)

Genealogy Resource Links and Online Resources

bc newspapers_61x80
  • Willard Library Newspaper Collection:  Search and view historical local newspapers on library computers (1846-present), or in the comfort of your home with your Willard Library card (1846-1923 only).
  • Battle Creek Enquirer: 2002-Present, Full-text, searchable database available from home with a library card.
  • Willard Library Newspaper Index covers the local newspapers from 1967-March 2012
  • Obituaries: Request an obituary.  Dates of obituaries occurring between 1967-March 2012 can be found in the newspaper index.  Prior to 1967, you must know the approximate year of the obituary you are requesting.

Digitized yearbooks for the five area public high schools. The collection currently includes: Battle Creek Central High School (1894-2002); Harper Creek High School (1962-2001); Lakeview High School (1925-2002); Pennfield High School (1979-2002); and Springfield High School (1956-1989).  Accessible online with a current Willard Library card or on-site to guests.


City Directories

Search and view Battle Creek City Directories on-site (1890-1960), or in the comfort of your home with your Willard Library card (1890-1923).

Tales of Battle Creek


Authored by the city's ideal biographer, Berenice Bryant Lowe, in 1976, Tales of Battle Creek "...provides a loving, spirited, and always accurate chronicle of the who-what-when-where-why of Battle Creek's past" with over 16 pages of photographs of early Battle Creek. Brought to you through a collaboration with Heritage Battle Creek.

Historical Images of Battle Creek, Michigan


The Historical Images of Battle Creek collection includes over 17,000 
photographs and is comprised of four collections:

  • Battle Creek Homes & Buildings, c. 1940: A catalog, by street, of all of the buildings within the 1940 boundaries of Battle Creek with images
  • Photographs from Battle Creek's History: A searchable selection of 5,500 photographs selected from the files of Willard Library from 19th and 20th century Battle Creek.
  • Dorothy Martich Black History Photo Archive: represents many years of research by local historians Dorothy and Michael Martich documenting the history of the Battle Creek African American community.
  • Country Club Hills Association: circa 1923

To search across these collections, or each collection individually, click here.

The Stuart A. Lassen Historical Battle Creek Postcard Collection


Stuart A. Lassen spent over 21 years collecting postcards, advertising & trade cards of early Battle Creek. Through Stuart's generous donation to digitize this collection, he created a legacy by sharing Battle Creek's history with future generations.
Local History Bookshelf Online

bks-lh-google3 Links to books about Battle Creek and Calhoun County history,
including W.K. Kellogg, Kellogg Company, Sojourner Truth,
Underground Railroad, C.W. Post and more.

Sanborn Fire Map, 1887


Face to Face with Dave Eddy
Collection of local interviews conducted by Dave Eddy, news host, at AccessVision. 

Print Collection

The Local and Family History Department has extensive local historical resources which includes primary and secondary source materials that document the history of Battle Creek, with a secondary emphasis on Calhoun County and the State of Michigan. Limited information is also available for surrounding communities, and the mid-Atlantic, Eastern and North Central United States.

Items in this collection are not available for circulation or interlibrary loan, with the exception of manuals and guides. Some duplicate items are available in the non-fiction collection for circulation. Resources include:

City and County Records
  • Probate Record Index from 1835-approx. 1915, (digitized index coming soon)
  • Plat books from 1858
  • Cemetery transcriptions for Southwest Michigan
  • Battle Creek City Directories (1869-present) 
  • Local biographies
  • Publications about local events, buildings, and personalities such as the Underground Railroad, Sojourner Truth, the cereal industry, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, W.K. Kellogg, John Harvey Kellogg, C.W. Post, and the Adventist Church.