Digital Collection


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 Shopper News: Search and view the entire collection of the Battle Creek Shopper on library computers, or in the comfort of your home with your Willard 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 are available 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). Yearbooks are accessible online with a current Willard Library card or on-site to guests.


City Directories

Search and view Battle Creek City Directories (1869-2015) onsite, or in the comfort of your home with your Willard Library card (1869-1923).

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 more than 16 pages of photographs of early Battle Creek. Brought to you through a collaboration with Heritage Battle Creek.

Listen to an interview with Bernice Lowe conducted by a Lakeview High School student. This file was provided to Willard Library by Lakeview High School Library.


Historical Images of Battle Creek, Michigan

The Historical Images of Battle Creek collection includes more than 17,000 photographs and is comprised of five 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

  • Stuart A. Lassen Historical Battle Creek Postcard Collection: Stuart A. Lassen spent 21 years collecting postcards, advertising and trade cards of early Battle Creek. Through Lassen's generous donation to digitize this collection, he created a legacy by sharing Battle Creek's history with future generations. The Stuart A. Lassen Postcard Collection was cataloged by Jane Ratner

Construction of the Old Merchants Building Photo Collection


Local History Bookshelf Online

Links to books about Battle Creek and Calhoun County history, including W.K. Kellogg, Kellogg Co., Sojourner Truth, Underground Railroad, and C.W. Post.


Sanborn Fire Maps

Sanborn Fire Map 

Additional Sanborn Fire Maps can be found through the Library of Congress.


Face to Face with Dave Eddy

A collection of local interviews conducted by news host Dave Eddy at Access Vision.


Probate Index

Discover the wills and probate records of your family members and ancestors to learn what they left behind. The Calhoun County Probate Index will provide the probate file number to locate the probate records for an individual. Although the Index contains entries from 1835 through 1990, the collection of files on microfilm (located at the Helen Warner Branch) is not complete and only contain records from 1835-1950. Please contact us to see if we have the file you are looking for. If you are looking for a probate record we do not have, contact the Calhoun County Probate Court at (269) 969-6794.


Print Collection

The Local and Family History Department has extensive local historical resources including 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, 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
  • Plat books from 1858
  • Books
  • Cemetery transcriptions for Southwest Michigan
  • Battle Creek City Directories (1961-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.

  • The print collection is located in the Helen Warner Branch at 36 Minges Creek Place (off Beckley Road, just south of I-94).  The hours are Mondays through Thursdays 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Fridays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays, September through April, 1 p.m. to 5p.m.