“We are all brothers and sisters in the afterlife.”
- Elder Adams, New York Family History Center and Genealogy
I decided to make a visit to the New York Family History Center and Genealogy in Manhattan to do research on my great-great grandfather, John W. Fields. It was packed with people researching, Elder Adams agreed to talk with me and give me a quick tour. I learned that the Mormon Church obtained copies of post–Civil War records created by the Freedmen’s Bureau. When the slaves were set free, the Bureau opened schools, managed hospitals, gave food and clothing and legalized marriages during the reconstruction era. Elder Adams told me that by gathering the handwritten records on roughly 4 million African Americans., the project would digitized the footprints of those born into slavery. FamilySearch, along with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History, galvanized organizations and people worldwide to help get the files indexed and digitized.
As my tour of the church and family center was coming to an end, I asked Elder Adams why on earth the Mormon Church cared so much about African Americans reconnecting to their roots. As Elder Adams and I walked down the corridor of the family center together, he looked over at me and answered very sweetly, “We believe we are all brothers and sisters in the afterlife.”