Fred Hart Williams Genealogical Society

About The Society


As the first genealogical society in the State of Michigan dedicated to the research and preservation of our African-American history, we take pride in our heritage and our contributions to the world and especially this country. We share this knowledge with enthusiasm, so that we may take our rightful place in history. 

Society’s founder, a retired Librarian and Field Archivist, Margaret McCall Thomas Ward (1918-2007)had a vision and commitment to research and preserve African American family histories for future generations. In 1979, her idea became a reality, with the formation of the Fred Hart Williams Genealogical Society (FHWGS) in the city of Detroit. Organizing Committee members, Yvonne Parks-Catchings, DeWitt S. Dykes, Jr., Karen Batchelor- Farmer Allen, Gabrielle Bradby-Greene, Norman McRae Ph.D., and others, including John H.M. Ingram, lll, Edith Martin-Jackson, Marguerite Coar-Massey, Leontine Cole-Smith, and Thelma Woodley-Mitchell, supported Margaret’s efforts.
1918 - 2007  
The Society honors the legacy of Fred Hart Williams (1882-1961), a pioneer in collecting and interpreting historical materials about African Americans. Throughout his employment as a senior tax clerk for the City of Detroit, he also wrote and reported for three newspapers: The Detroit Tribune, The Michigan Chronicle, and the Detroit edition of The Pittsburgh Courier.
Historians and writers all over the world are indebted to him for the materials he donated to establish the highly regarded E. Azalia Hackley Collection which honors African Americans in the performing arts. The collection is stored at the Detroit Public Library. The descendant of a family who came to Detroit on the Underground Railroad, Williams served his community as a journalist, author, historian and patron of the arts. Williams’ personal family history papers, donated to the Burton Historical Collection, DPL, form an important source of African American History.
1882 - 1961  
Today, the FHWGS publishes a newsletter twice a year, and sponsors educational programs and workshops, which explain research techniques most useful to persons of African American ancestry. Members are encouraged to share their experiences, exchange research finds at meetings, and to deposit their compiled family histories with the Society. The Society also collects, preserves and makes available to the public, manuscripts, documents, genealogical records and historical materials. Fieldtrips are taken throughout the year to examine historical sites, and collections of family history records.
The Society was the first African American Genealogical Society in the State of Michigan.
FHWGS is a non-profit 501(c) 3 organization in the State of Michigan.


Operating Year: September 2018 - August 2019

President: Shaun Thomas
Vice President: Omer Jean Winborn
Treasurer: Renee Strong-Terry
Corresponding Secretary: Lois I. Banks
Recording Secretary: Jacquelyn Downs
Immediate Past President: Leslie C. Strong Williams
Board Members
Director: Shirley J. Burke
Director: Evan Chaney
Director: Cheryl D. Garnett
Director: Lillian R. Holland
Director: Jacquelene Hollier
Director: Bryant Jenkins, Jr.
Director: Carmen Leslie-Stevens
Director: Linda Webb
Director: Mildred Wilson
Advisory Director: Dr. Walter Webb

Meeting Info

Meetings are held monthly on the first Saturday of the month from September through May, 10:30 A.M. to 12:30 P.M., at the Detroit Public Library, Main Branch. No meetings are held in July, August and December. The Karl Hamilton Field Trip, takes place on the first Saturday in June. Feel free to click on the Events Page tab for a complete list of  our upcoming general meetings and outings.