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William V.S. Tubman Papers, 1904-1992

Scope and Content

The W.V.S. Tubman papers comprise 21 linear feet of documents spanning the years from 1904 to 1992 with the bulk of the materials covering the period of his presidency, 1941-1971. The collection is organized into three record groups:
  • Liberian Government Papers
  • W.V.S. Tubman Personal Papers
  • Civil Society-Related Materials
  • The Liberian Government Papers record group consists of documents pertaining to the activities and business of the Liberian Government. The W.V.S. Tubman Personal Papers record group consists of documents from Tubman’s life outside of his presidency and concerns his family, friends and personal business matters. The Civil Society-Related Materials record group consists of documents from civic, religious and fraternal groups.

    The first three series of the Liberian Government Papers record group consist of materials from the three branches of the government: The Executive Branch Administrative Files include papers, reports, correspondence and other documents from the various government departments, offices, bureaus, commissions and organizations of the Tubman administration.

    The naming convention for departments and agencies was to file documents under the last name used during Tubman’s presidency. For example, the subseries Department of Information and Cultural Affairs contains the Liberian Information Service correspondence because the earlier Liberian Information Service was reorganized into the Department of Information and Cultural Affairs in 1965. Government agencies grow and divide over time and often change their names.

    The Legislative Branch Administrative Files include laws (acts) passed by the Legislature, drafts of legislation and House of Representatives’ correspondence. The Judiciary Branch Administrative Files contains records from the Supreme Court and the ten Circuit Courts.

    The Liberian Government Papers record group includes two related series in addition to materials for the three governmental branches. The voluminous General Government Correspondence series contains personal letters specifically addressed to Tubman that petition the President for some type of action: job, loan, school fees, rent, or medical fees. Some ask for a visitation; others thank him or include a small gift (such as a Bible). Many letters are handwritten, coming from all parts of Liberia, both rural and urban and from every strata of the society. Fulfilling these requests would often involve both governmental and personal issues, a reflection of Tubman’s all-encompassing leadership style and persona.

    The Subject Files series contains speeches, souvenir programs and invitations that do not pertain to a specific government department or agency. It includes materials from Tubman’s Vice Presidents and former President Arthur Barclay.

    The William V.S. Tubman Personal Papers record group is divided into four series: Personal Correspondence , Tubman Financial Records, Tubman Farm Records and Tubman Family Biography . The Personal Correspondence contains letters from family members and friends of Tubman, including an extensive set from his butler, Jimmy Barrolle, who handled many personal matters for Tubman.

    The documents in the Tubman Financial Records series are a sampling of the large collection of financial records found at the Tubman Estate. These records (mainly receipts) pertain specifically to Tubman’s family and include groceries and clothing for the family, home repair costs and other documentation of general spending for a family. There are also a number of letters regarding personal business matters.

    The Tubman Farm Records pertain to farms and related facilities owned by the Tubman family, including the Totota Farm, Coo-Coo’s Nest and the Tubman Zoo. The majority of these documents are financial records, but they also include reports and correspondence.

    The Tubman Family Biography contains notable documents from Tubman and his family members including college degrees, family court documents, news clippings and other memorabilia.

    The Civil-Society Related Materials record group contains papers of various non-governmental organizations that Tubman was either affiliated with or interested in. Many youth and women’s organizations are represented in the Civic, Social and Political Organizations series as well as documents from the World Health Organization. There are also documents from other organizations such as the Boy Scouts of Liberia. The Fraternal Orders series contains correspondence, souvenir programs and financial documents from various lodges within the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows, the United Brothers of Friendship and Sisters of the Mysterious Ten and the Order of the Eastern Star.

    The Health and Medical Organizations Records series contains speeches, correspondence, reports and souvenir programs for various medical centers throughout Liberia.

    The In Memoriam series includes death notices, eulogies, obituaries and obsequies from friends, members of the community, colleagues and others. Materials include documents from memorial services held in Liberia for many notable people, including John F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Of special interest is the official funeral program for Martin Luther King Jr. at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Also included are notices, protocols and order of processions for Tubman’s own funeral.

    The Religious Organizations series includes conference memorabilia, correspondence, reports, speeches and invitations from various churches and religious organizations. Tubman was a staunch Methodist, but many of the materials are from other religious organizations.