The International African American Museum in Charleston, South Carolina, is home to one of the largest slave ports in the world. After opening its doors in early June, the institution now honors enslaved Africans by helping visitors connect with their family roots through advanced genealogy.

According to PBS News Hour, the museum has the broadest genealogical collection, with around 400 million records from before the 1870 census, which was the first to include African Americans by name. However, African Americans still struggle to trace their family history due to the lingering effects of slavery.

Malika Pryor-Martin, the museum’s chief learning and engagement officer, shared its mission to help families track their loved ones through state-of-the-art technology.

“Help folks break down what we refer to in the genealogy world as that brick wall of 1870. It’s both myth and reality, because the myth, the records are there. The reality, access is tough. So, it’s natural to think about the kinds of records that you would search for people,” Pryor-Martin told PBS News Hour.

he continued: “However, in an antebellum period, the overwhelming majority of people of African descent here in the United States or what becomes the United States are not people. They’re considered property. So we are really interested in investing in digitizing and working and partnering with other institutions to digitize them to make what they digitized available.”

The International African American Museum is at Gadsden’s Wharf, the historical site where more than 40% of enslaved Africans arrived in the United States, per PBS. After several delays, the institution finally opened on June 26.

Additionally, the museum has many exhibits and galleries for visitors to learn more about their family history and the African diaspora.

“It’s a spiritual center. It’s a place that’s really and truly home away from home. It’s a place where the community can find justice. So it’s really serving as a point of reference and grounding for the sustenance of the entire community,” Pryor-Martin said, per PBS.