Fred Hart Williams Genealogical Society

Welcome to the FHWGS website!


MGC Honors Leslie C Strong Williams

The Michigan Genealogical Council has selected FHWGS immediate past president Leslie C. Strong Williams as the 2020 Lucy Mary Kellogg Awardee.  The announcement was made at the January FHWGS meeting and at the January Michigan Genealogical Council delegate meeting. The criteria for the award include the following:
  • Furthered the aims and the accomplishments of Michigan Genealogical Council.
  • Served in a position of leadership in a Michigan genealogical or historical organization.
  • Been involved in a major research project.
  • Authored or contributed to a notable publication.
  • Made a significant contribution to the genealogical or historical benefit of his/her community.
  • Made a significant contribution to the Michigan community.
  • Furthered the knowledge of genealogy through educational practices.
Leslie’s accomplishments include: She is the longest serving president of FHWGS from May 2006 - August 2017.  During her tenure we partnered with the Detroit Public Library to provide a free annual Family History Festival at the library from 2006 -2014.  She is a member of the planning committee for annual Michigan in Perspective: Local History Conference, served as a Trustee with the Historical Society of Michigan, member of the Board of Directors for the Friends of E. Azalia Hackley, Detroit Public Library, member Board of the Directors for the Friends of African American Art, Detroit Institute of Arts where she held the office of First Vice President; and Commissioner on the Detroit Recreation Department Advisory Board.  In partnership with New Detroit, Leslie spearheaded the genealogy element of their Genealogy Storytelling and Racial Healing Project in 2016 - 2019.
Leslie is the first African American woman to receive this award. She is the second African American and second Fred Hart Williams Genealogical Society member to be so honored.  The first was DeWitt Dykes, the first president of FHWGS.  He received the award in 1996.  

FHWGS Meetings Continue Despite COVID-19

The Fred Hart Williams Genealogical Society has been meeting online since September 2020.  Faced with the closure of the Detroit Public Library in March our meetings were canceled.  Over the summer the FHWGS board of directors met virtually to formulate contingency plans to safely continue our mission in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. We decided to use a video conferencing service for our membership meetings.  We will continue to meet virtually for the foreseeable future.  At our November meeting Dr. Deborah Abbott presented; A Case Study Proving Oral History.  We took a photo with our masks on to commemorate the event.

Naomi Long Madgett, Poet Laureate

Detroit poet laureate, long time FHWGS member and 2014 Margaret McCall Thomas Ward History Maker awardee, Naomi Long Madgett has passed away at the age of 97.  The entire Fred Hart Williams Genealogical Society family express our condolences to her family.  

Detroit Public Library Reopening Limited Service

The Detroit Public Library has reopened with limited services.  The library has published their services available and instructions for accessing the available services on their website.  
Group meetings have not resumed at the library so the meetings of the Fred Hart Williams Genealogical Society will continue online until further notice.  
The Burton Historical Collection is now taking appointments online.  Appointments must be made online at least 7 days in advance.  Onsite research is limited to only 1 hour.  Only one other person may accompany you on your appointment.  Use this form to request an appointment with the Burton Historical Collection: 

Remembering Dr. Walter Webb

We are saddened to report the passing of Walter D. Webb, DDS.  Dr. Webb was a Life Member. He joined the Society in 1995.  He was a former FHWGS vice-president and long-time board member and presenter.  He was chair of the mailing committee and served for many years at the check-in table.  
This picture is from the 2017 Annual Karl Hamilton Field Trip to the University of Michigan's Bentley Library in Ann Arbor.  During our visit, Archivist Brian Williams retrieved Dr. Webb's original U of M application complete with a photo of the young perspective student.  It was truly a memorable moment.       

First FHWGS Virtual Meeting Held 9/12/2020

The Fred Hart Williams Genealogical Society held their first virtual meeting on September 12, 2020.  Members were notified in the Society's August newsletter of two practice sessions for those unfamiliar with Zoom.  The September meeting was the Society's Annual Meeting which was postponed from May due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Over 50 members attended our first virtual meeting.  Our speaker was the Honorable State Senator Adam Hollier, District 2, Michigan.  Members who missed the meeting can view it in the Members section of this website. 

Membership Meetings to Resume Online

The Detroit Public Library closed in mid-March at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.  As a result, our April and May membership meetings were canceled.  The library has a reopening plan, however the date that group meetings will resume at the library is yet to be determined.  So, until we are able to resume in person meetings, the Fred Hart Williams Genealogical Society will conduct our meetings online.  Instructions for joining the online meeting will be sent to FHWGS members.

Passing of FHWGS member Ola Mae Spinks

Beloved member Ola Mae Spinks passed away June 16, 2020 at the age of 106.  She was a retired librarian who among her many accomplishments was helping to organize the Slave Narratives at the U. S. Library of Congress.  Our prayers to her family in the loss of one of our truly phenomenal elders who helped preserve our history for all generations to come.   

FHWGS Board Members featured

FHWGS Vice President Omer Jean Winborn and Board Member Cheryl Garnett were recently interviewed on Michigan Radio about African American Genealogy.  Cheryl  and Omer Jean are co-founders of the Washtenaw County African American Genealogy Society.  Here is a link to the interview:
They were also featured in Blac Detroit Magazine 


February 2020 Membership Meeting

State Clubs meeting.  Genealogy 101 Part 2, Case Study: Evan Chaney

January 2020 Membership Meeting

January 4, 2020 - Show & Share presentations and exhibits.  Previews from our upcoming 40th Anniversary book, Telling Our Stories: A Collection of Family History Narratives.

11/2/2019 Special Event with Kenyatta Berry

Photos courtesy of Carl and Jacqui Hollier 

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