Mormon Church Donates $2 Million to Help African Americans Trace Family History


Read all about it at the Atlanta Black Star.  Here is a taste of Tanasia Kenney’s report:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced this week that it’s donating $2 million to the International African-American Museum in Charleston, S.C., to create a Center for Family History aimed at helping Black Americans trace their genealogy.

The church made the announcement on Feb. 27 during the annual RootTech genealogy summit in Salt Lake City, Utah, local station KUTV reported.

More than half of the enslaved Africans brought to America came through Charleston and the majority of them disembarked at Gadsden’s Wharf, “taking their first steps into this country at the future site of the IAAM,” according to the museum.

“We want to support the museum and the Center for Family History because we both value the strength that comes from learning about our families,” said Elder David Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the LDS Church, who presented the donation.

“The museum will not only educate its patrons on the important contributions of Africans who came through Gadsden’s Wharf and Charleston,” he added, “it also will help all who visit to discover and connect with ancestors whose stories previously may not have been known.” 

Read the rest here.


One thought on “Mormon Church Donates $2 Million to Help African Americans Trace Family History

  1. I’d be curious to learn something about the historical methodology the Mormons are using to garner genealogical information. Maybe I am ignorant of what sort of records were kept in West Africa, but it is hard to imagine that there is much written documentation on the ancestors of those sold into slavery and subsequently transported to North and South America. This problem would be compounded by tribal languages, some of which may no longer exist. I wonder if this whole project isn’t simply a public relations move by the LDS Church? After disallowing blacks full privileges of membership for most of its history, the Mormon Church is possibly attempting to create a new image for itself.
    The basic religious purpose of any LDS genealogical research is to allow current members to perform proxy baptisms for dead ancestors. This odd doctrine makes grace for the deceased contingent upon a rather flimsy foundation. For example, let’s say that I want to get baptized on behalf of a great grandfather six generations removed, but that his parish church or the city hall for his village in Wales burned in 1856. All written records in the parish or in municipal files were destroyed. Furthermore, the ship’s passenger list on which his son traveled to Canada was lost. How would I even have the necessary name to use in the temple baptismal work?
    In any case, whether the Mormons are dealing with ancestral research in Europe, Africa, or Asia, there is no way they are going to collect a high percentage of the names. This failure necessarily precludes proxy baptismal privileges for those individuals. Historical research has its limits.


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