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William V.S. Tubman Papers, 1904-1992


The collection is organized into three major record groups: Liberian Government Papers , W.V.S. Tubman Personal Papers and Civil Society-Related Materials. All materials are arranged alphabetically within each series and then chronologically within each folder. (Additional organizational details for the correspondence follow.)

When possible, the current arrangement reflects the original categorization of the Tubman papers. However, because the documents were in considerable disarray when retrieved in 2005, restoring their arrangement was based on a variety of strategies. Scattered papers retrieved from the floor were inspected for relationships in found proximity, content or if stains and holes matched other pages. Records organization was retained "as found" when files were retrieved intact from the filing cabinet drawers. Project archivists also referenced a 1946 filing guide for Liberian government papers and used most of the organizational categories from Professor Christopher Clapham’s unpublished 1979 report,"The W.V.S. Tubman Library of Presidential Papers," based on his 1970s inspection and organization of the intact collection. Archivists also consulted the Historical Dictionary of Liberia (Scarecrow Press) and conferred with D. Elwood Dunn, Svend E. Holsoe and other experts on the Liberian government during the Tubman era.

Given the large amount of correspondence strewn on the floor of the Tubman Estate basement library closet when the records were retrieved, the following principles were followed to sort the letters into the proper record groups and series:

Liberian Government Papers Record Group Letters on official government letterhead stationary or with an official signature block at the end of the letter were filed appropriately in the Executive Branch , Legislative Branch or Judiciary Branch Administrative Files series. Many of these letters mixed official and personal business.

Correspondence of a governmental nature that did not appear on official government letterhead stationary or did not include an official signature block was filed in the General Government Correspondence series This series includes letters specifically addressed to President Tubman that often petition him for some type of action.

The General Government Correspondence series is arranged alphabetically by author’s name. Separate files were created for each person who corresponded four times or more with Tubman. Otherwise, all documents were arranged alphabetically in a “General” file for each letter of the alphabet (e.g., General “A”, 1935-1971, undated). Because Tubman had close relationships with many writers, some letters use first names only. When the author’s last name could not be ascertained with certainty, the letters were arranged by first names. (e.g., “Bob”, 1946-1949, undated)

Correspondence found in the “Miscellaneous” files at the end of the General Government Correspondence series did not have a legible name or was a fragment without identification. The “Miscellaneous” letters were arranged chronologically, with undated documents in the “Miscellaneous, undated” file.

W.V.S. Tubman Personal Papers Record Group The Personal Correspondence series in this record group contains letters from family members and friends of Tubman, including an extensive set from his butler, Jimmy Barrolle, who handled many matters for Tubman. Because Tubman had a close relationship with most of these people, many letters only use first names. When the last name of the letter’s author cannot be ascertained with certainty, they are arranged by first names. (e.g., Alice, 1946, 1968, undated; Belle, 1945, undated) The Personal Correspondence files are arranged alphabetically.

Under these arrangement rules, some individuals appear in more than one correspondence record group or series.

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