Historic Elmwood Cemetery & Foundation

Historic Elmwood Cemetery & Foundation

Where Detroit's History Endures
elmwood_grounds_banner2.jpg

Fred Hart Williams

Fred Hart WilliamsFred Hart Williams
(1882 – 1961)

Fred Hart Williams was born on February 2, 1882.  He attended Central High School, the University of Detroit and Detroit College of Law.  He dedicated his life to the collection, preservation, and interpretation of 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.  

The descendant of a family who came to Detroit via the Underground Railroad in 1849, Williams served his community as a journalist, author, historian and patron of the arts.  Writers all over the world are indebted to him for the materials he donated to establish the highly regarded E. Azalia Hackley Collection that honors African Americans in the performing arts.  The collection is stored at the Detroit Public Library.  Williams’ personal family history papers, donated to the Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library, form an important source of African American History.

Williams died on August 14, 1961 and is buried in Section O, Lot 80.

The Fred Hart Williams Genealogical Society, named in his honor, began in 1979.  It has a commitment to research and preserve African American family histories for future generations.  It also collects, preserves and makes available to the public, manuscripts, documents, genealogical records and historical materials.  This Society was the first African American Genealogical Society in the State of Michigan.