Michael Willis is an accomplished speaker, consultant, blogger and instructor with over 19 years experience as a genealogist. He specializes in Louisiana research primarily East Baton Rouge, East & West Feliciana, Orleans and Terrebonne parishes. Michael appeared on CBS13’s “Good Day Sacramento (CW31)” in 2018 & 2019 to promote the Annual African American Family History Seminar held in Sacramento, California of which he instructed genealogical workshops six times. He was also invited to be an onsite researcher for the California Legislative Black Caucus Freedmen’s Bureau Black History Event. Michael successfully researched the 2nd great grandparents of California Assemblyman Jim Cooper (9th District) in the Freedmen’s Bureau records.
An East Bay Area native, Michael’s inspiration in the field began when his maternal grandmother taught him to memorize seven generations of his maternal ancestry at the age of 8 years old. In 2004, he went to the local Family History Library to learn how to research the names he memorized. The staff showed Michael his 3rd great grandparents on an 1880 Census and he was officially hooked! Since that time, Michael has documented over 4700 people on his family tree and researched his ancestry back 11 generations into the early 18th century.
As a lecturer and trainer, Michael has covered such topics as Genetic Genealogy, Freedman’s Bureau Records, United States Colored Troops in the Civil War, Civil War Widows’ Pension Files and Oral History. Additionally, he has written articles published in “The Baobab Tree” & “Le Raconteur,” the official journals of the African American Genealogical Society of Northern California (AAGSNC) and Le Comité des Archives de la Louisiane, Inc., respectively.
Michael is a member of AAGSNC where he currently serves on the Board of Directors. He is also a member of Le Comité des Archives de la Louisiane, a non-profit genealogical support group for the Louisiana State Archives.
Michael earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California, Davis in 2000.