On Saturday, June 24, 2023, the International African American Museum (IAAM) celebrated its official inauguration. This momentous occasion marked the opening of the museum, situated on a significant section of the former Gadsden’s Wharf in Charleston, South Carolina, which holds great historical significance in the narrative of the United States.
Scheduled to open its doors to the public on June 27, the museum boasts a remarkable feature called the Center for Family History, which is backed by FamilySearch International from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A significant contribution of $2 million was made by the Church of Jesus Christ in 2019 to aid in the establishment of this center. It serves as a vital resource for exploring and advancing African American genealogy, providing invaluable connections to Africa and the broader African diaspora.
Thom Reed, a program manager overseeing FamilySearch’s African heritage initiatives, has been instrumental in facilitating the Church’s collaboration with the IAAM since its inception. According to Reed, the museum holds immense potential to benefit a wide range of individuals and communities.
Within the Center for Family History, visitors can access tutorials that provide a solid foundation in genealogy research. Moreover, the center offers a wealth of resources for those interested in delving deeper into the documentation of the Atlantic slave trade in Charleston. It also houses extensive United States military records specifically focused on African Americans, along with a collection of online obituaries from the Beaufort County Library.
During a significant moment in 2019, Elder David A. Bednar, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, presented a check of $2 million to then-CEO of the IAAM, Michael Moore. At that time, Elder Bednar expressed that this collaboration was a “perfect partnership.” Recently, in Charleston, FamilySearch CEO Stephen Rockwood echoed those sentiments by stating that the Church’s support of the IAAM aligns seamlessly with FamilySearch’s mission to assist individuals in discovering the truth about their ancestral origins.