Researching and preserving African American family history since 1979

About the Society
Traveling Exhibition
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Traveling Exhibition

Traveling Exhibition



Celebrating the Untold Stories of Detroit’s African American Families


Developed by the Society in celebration of the City of Detroit’s Tercentennial in the year 2001, EVERY FAMILY IS A HISTORY has been exhibited at the Detroit Public Library, Main Branch, May through October 2001, the Detroit Children’s Museum, November 2001 through March 2002, Marygrove College, Detroit, Michigan, November 2002, and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Detroit, Michigan, November 2004 through April 2005. These historically significant accounts are now available to venues across the country.


The richly woven exhibition and companion video chronicles the Fred Hart Williams Genealogical Society as the first African American Genealogical Society in the state of Michigan. As genealogy is brought to life, witness the stories of four Detroit families as told through the eyes of living descendants. With histories dating back to the 1850’s, these narratives represent the first in a series of seventy biographical profiles adapted from the book, Our Untold Stories: A Collection of Family History Narratives.


The exhibition examines the stories of:


Fred Hart Williams (1882-1961), journalist, patron of the arts and respected pioneer in collecting and interpreting historical materials about African Americans.


William T. Webb (c.1812-1868), free black man, political activist and agent on the Underground Railroad, whose home became a center of abolitionist activities.


James H. Cole (1838-1907), an emancipated slave, whose “rags to riches” story earned him the distinction of being dubbed “Detroit’s Richest Negro.”


The Tyson - Robbins Family’s emotional story of their “reconnection” with Canadian relatives at their first family reunion in over 100 years.


In keeping with the Society’s mission of preserving African American history, life and culture, these proud accounts are valuable references for genealogists, students, educators, families and researchers seeking to discover more about Detroit’s history, its extraordinary heritage, and links to our nation’s past.


CONTENTS:   10 Mural Panels with text and 16 oak laminate display stands


MEDIUM:         4 color Digital Prints, Gator Board Mounts and Luster Lamination


RUNNING FEET:        40’ for 10 Panels each measuring 4’w X 7’h X 2” d


Available for Bookings.  For content and scheduling information, call the Society hotline at (313) 438-3233 or E-mail,


EVERY FAMILY IS A HISTORY was supported in part by the Fred Hart Williams Genealogical Society, the Descendants of William & Harvey Webb, The James H. Cole Home for Funerals, Greektown Casino, and individual donors.



All meetings are free and open to the public. Free parking is available in the library's Putnam Street parking lot.


Fred Hart Williams Genealogical Society

Researching and preserving African American Family History since 1979. Detroit Public Library, Burton Historical Collection

5021 Woodard Avenue

Detroit, MI 48202



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