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Liberian Government Archives I, 1828-1911

Electronic finding aid encoded by Megan MacDonald

Project funding came in part from the Cooperative Africana Materials Project and Title VI National Resource Centers for Africa, administered by the Center for Research Libraries.

Summary Information

Repository
Liberian Collections
Indiana University
504 North Fess Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47408
Phone: (812) 856-0782
Email: liberia@indiana.edu
http://www.onliberia.org

Creator
Holsoe, Svend E.

Title
Liberian Government Archives I, 1828-1911

Collection No.
LCP006

Extent
5 1/2 cubic feet; 6 records cartons

Location
Liberian Government Archives I, Holsoe Collection

Language
Materials are primarily in English

Abstract
The collection consists of correspondence, reports, records, minutes, and other miscellaneous manuscript items. These materials are typically either photocopies of items from the Liberian Archives in Monrovia, Liberia, or are typescript copies/notes created by Dr. Holsoe in the course of his research

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Biographical Note

Over the course of his prolific scholarly career, anthropologist Svend Einar Holsoe has greatly advanced our knowledge and understanding of the history and culture of the peoples of Liberia. During his youth, Holsoe’s family lived in Liberia for nine years. His interest in a close study of this country and its peoples began during his senior year in high school. Asked to write an essay on his hometown for his senior English course, Holsoe chose Monrovia, only to discover the dearth of material on the nation and its people. It was at this moment, he says, that he dedicated himself to finding and collecting printed materials on Liberia.

Unparalleled in his dedication to the preservation of documents and artifacts on Liberia, in 1997 Holsoe donated his collection of materials to Indiana University’s Archives of Traditional Music, Liberian Collections Project, Mathers Museum, and Art Museum. A product of his years of research and relentless materials collection, The Svend E. Holsoe Collection is one of the largest and most comprehensive deposits of resources on the West African nation. The Collection includes: copies of Liberian Government Archive Documents between 1824-1983 ; extensive genealogical records, including analyses and family trees developed from these records; political, institutional, social and cultural surveys from the 1980s Liberia Rural Radio Project; field notes and oral history tapes of Vai and Bandi research; Vai script materials, including research notes, examples and articles; and slides and photos spanning decades and covering many geographical areas and activities. Due to looting and the destruction of Liberia’s National Archives during the civil war that began in 1989, the Liberian Government Archives, part of the Holsoe Collection, contains the only extant copies of important historical and cultural documents.

During his career, Holsoe published numerous important scholarly contributions on Liberia. As early as 1966, Holsoe's article, “The Condo Confederation in Western Liberia,” was published in the Liberian Historical Review . Over the next thirty years, Holsoe wrote twenty-seven articles related to Liberia for numerous publications. Holsoe and D. Elwood Dunn collaborated on the first edition of The Historical Dictionary of Liberia (1984). He followed up this major project as a co-author of A Land and Life Remembered: Americo-Liberian Folk Architecture (1988). More recently, he co-edited African American Exploration in West Africa (2003).

A co-founder of the Liberian Studies Association, Holsoe created and edited the Liberian Studies Journal from 1968 to 1978, as well as a Liberian Studies Monograph Series. In 1999, Indiana University awarded Holsoe the Chancellors’ Medallion in honor of his unique contributions to scholarship. In presenting the honor, Chancellor Kenneth Gros Louis said of Holsoe: “We know, thanks to his collecting and preserving, thanks to his selfless donation to a public university which will make his work available to all in what we hope will be perpetuity, that Svend Holsoe has done more than his part to ensure that much of what constitutes the country and the cultures of Liberia will remain, and that we, as stewards of his materials, will harvest richly from his efforts.” Indeed, Holsoe's scholarly legacy and invaluable collection will long remain an indispensable source of information and inspiration to future scholars of Liberia.

Scope and Content

Five boxes of materials, 1828-1911, that range chronologically from Liberia’s colonial period under the American Colonization Society through the end of Arthur Barclay’s term as the fifteenth president of Liberia. The collection consists of correspondence, reports, records, minutes, and other miscellaneous manuscript items. These materials are typically either photocopies of items from the Liberian Archives in Monrovia, Liberia, or are typescript copies/notes created by Dr. Holsoe in the course of his research (however, there are some manuscript notes and, in at least one case, photographs of documents).

The collection is divided into three main sections to reflect the three branches of Liberian government: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. The Executive Branch is further broken down by executive department, with the Presidential materials under the heading “Executive Mansion;” the Legislative by House, Senate, and General (for those materials deriving from, or going to, both Houses); and the Judicial by geographic area and then by court. The organization is intended to reflect the inventory of the Liberian Government Archives as established by Dr. Holsoe and Tom W. Schick (see bibliography).

Because so much of the correspondence comes in the form of Letterbooks or Letter Despatch Books, items of correspondence can be found in many different places. For example, someone looking for Presidential correspondence will find much of it under Executive Mansion General Correspondence, but there will also be materials to be found in the Despatch Books of the Department of State or of the Treasury Department.

Researchers using the Holsoe Collection Liberian Government Archives will find many items of interest: there is a wealth of correspondence, both intra- and extra-governmental, and the cabinet minutes and Legislative materials provide great insight into the workings of government. Of particular note are the Legislative materials from 1871-1872 covering the impeachment of President Roye and members of his cabinet; there are also court records from Montserrado County during the same period that cover related trials. The court records from Maryland County contain a wealth of information concerning wills and estates, giving one a glimpse into the possessions and livelihood of early Twentieth Century Liberians. Other notable items include Arthur Barclay’s office diary from 1909; correspondence relating to the “Regina Coeli” affair (1857-1858); and the Native Shipping Bureau Correspondence, which consists primarily of ledger books detailing the traffic in native labor in the late Nineteenth Century.

  • Indexing Terms

  • The following terms have been used to index this collection.

    • Names
    • Holsoe, Svend E.
    • Topics
    • African Americans -- Liberia -- History -- 19th Century
    • American Colonization Society
    • Indigenous Peoples -- Liberia
    • Places
    • Africa -- Colonization -- History
    • Liberia -- Foreign Relations -- France
    • Liberia -- Foreign Relations -- Great Britain
    • Liberia -- Foreign Relations -- United States
    • Liberia -- History -- 19th Century
    • Liberia -- History -- 20th Century
    • Liberia -- Politics and Government -- 19th Century
    • Liberia -- Politics and Government -- 20th Century
    • Liberia -- Social Conditions

Administrative Information

Acquisition Information
Obtained as part of the collection donated by Dr. Svend Holsoe.
User Restrictions
All research at the Liberian Collections Project is by appointment only. See collection Guidelines for further information about photocopy requests and permissions for publication: http://www.onliberia.org/access.htm
Preferred Citation
[item], Holsoe Collection - Liberian Government Archives I, Bloomington, IN: Liberian Collections, Indiana University Libraries, 2008
Copyright Transferred
Copyright interests for this collection have been transferred to the Trustees of Indiana University. For more information, contact the Indiana University Liberian Collections
Processing Information
Processed by Donald Force, Chris Eaton, John Russell, Curtis Ashton.

Completed in 2008.

  • [HT] = Holsoe Typescript
  • [PC] = Photocopy of Original (or of microfilm)
  • [MS] = Manuscript Notes

Series: Colonial

Box 1 Lott Carey / Letterbook / 1828

[HT]

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General Correspondence / 1831-1839 

[PC & HT]

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General Correspondence / 1840-1841 [image]View item(s)

Series: Executive

Subseries: Executive Mansion

Box 1 General Correspondence

1854-1882 

[PC & HT]

17 items

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HRW Johnson Letterbook, Oct 1833 - Apr 1884

[PC]

170 pp.

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1883-1885 

[HT]

6 items

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HRW Johnson Letterbook, Apr 1884 - July 1884

[PC]

183 pp.

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HRW Johnson Letterbook, June 1884 - Oct 1884

[PC]

141 pp.

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HRW Johnson Letterbook, Aug 1884 - Dec 1884

[PC]

101 pp.

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HRW Johnson Letterbook, Feb 1885 - Feb 1888

[HT]

93 pp.

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Feb 1885-Feb 1888 

[HT]

31 pp.

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HRW Johnson Letterbook, Dec 1887-May 1892

[HT]

63 pp.

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Sept 1888-Sept 1891 

[HT]

33 pp.

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May-Dec 1892 

[HT]

30 pp.

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May-Dec 1892 

[HT]

31 pp.

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May-Dec 1892 

[HT]

94 pp.

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Feb-Sept 1893 

[HT]

52 pp.

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Feb-Sept 1893 

[HT]

69 pp.

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Feb 1893-Oct 1894 

[HT]

48 pp.

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Oct 1894-Dec 1895 

[HT]

15 pp.

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Sept 1894-Feb 1896 

[HT]

119 pp.

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Jan-Nov 1896 

[HT]

10 pp.

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Feb-Jun 1896 

[HT]

84 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1893-1894 

[PC]

7 items

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Jun 1896-Oct 1899 

[HT]

18 pp.

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Nov 1896-Oct 1899 

[HT]

22 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1897-1903 

[PC]

3 items

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Dec 1900-Oct 1903 

[HT]

20 pp.

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Dec 1900-Feb 1904 

[HT]

7 pp.

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Jan 1903-Mar 1905 

[HT]

11 pp.

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Jan 1904-Mar 1905 

[HT]

37 pp.

[image]View item(s)

Aug 1905-Sept 1906 

[HT]

14 pp.

[image]View item(s)

Aug 1905-Aug 1907 

[HT]

100 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1905-1908 [image]View item(s)

Aug 1907-Apr 1910 

[HT]

44 pp.

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Feb 1909-June 1911 

[HT]

5 pp.

[image]View item(s)

Aug 1905-Dec 1911 

[PC &HT]

63 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1909-1911 [image]View item(s)

1910-1911 [image]View item(s)

1908-1911 

[PC]

14 items


Box 2 Maryland Co., 1910 

[PC]

22 items

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Maryland Co., 1911 

[PC]

24 items

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Sinoe Co., 1910-1911 

[HT]

54 items

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Sinoe Co., 1910-1911 

[PC]

7 items

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Grand Bassa Co., 1904-1911 

[PC]

16 items

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Cabinet Minutes [image]View item(s)

January-April 1838

May-Nov 1871 

[PC]

8 pp.

[image]View item(s)

July 1879-Jan 1884 

[HT]

71 pp.

[image]View item(s)

Jan 1880-Jan 1884

[HT]

47 pp.

[image]View item(s)

Jan 1882-Oct 1882

[HT]

15 pp.

[image]View item(s)

July 1879-Sept 1881

[PC]

44 pp.

[image]View item(s)

Jan 1882-Oct 1883

[PC]

92 pp.

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Jan 1884-Apr 1885

[PC]

134 pp.

[image]View item(s)

Aug 1894-Nov 1904

[HT]

15 pp.

[image]View item(s)

Apr 1898-May 1909

[PC]

33 pp.

[image]View item(s)

June 1903-Dec 1904

[HT]

15 pp.

[image]View item(s)

Feb 1905-Aug 1905

[HT]

10 pp.

[image]View item(s)

February-August 1905

June 1903-August 1906 [image]View item(s)

Presidential Commissions, Grand Cape Mount, 1882 

[HT]

8 pp.; 10 pp.

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Presidential Commissions, Grand Bassa Co., 1884 

[HT]

1 pp.

[image]View item(s)

Presidential Commissions, Sinoe Co., 1896-1911 

[PC]

3 items

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Presidential Commissions, Anglo-Liberian Boundary, 1903 [image]View item(s)

Presidential Commissions, Franco-Liberian Boundary, 1908 

[PC]

1 item

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Presidential Commissions, Franco-Liberian Boundary, 1911  [image]View item(s)

Presidential Commissions, Liberian Commission to Europe, 1907 [image]View item(s)

Presidential Commissions, Maryland Co., 1910-1911 

[PC]

17 items

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Miscellaneous Items

"Extracts on the Disturbances in the Interior...1900" 

[HT]

6 pp.

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Plan of Settlement for Liberian Development Company, 1907 [image]View item(s)

President's Office Diary, 1909 

[PC]

142 pp.

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"Report of G. Stanley Padmore..." Nov 1, 1910

[PC]

44 pp.

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Subseries: State Department

Letter Despatch Books

1872-1873 

[HT & PC]

pp. 1-152

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1872-1873 

[PC]

pp. 153-290

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1872-1873 

[ PC]

pp. 291-471

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1872-1873 

[PC]

pp. 168-390

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General Correspondence

1868-1872 

[HT]

149 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1872-1873 

[HT]

124 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1873-1877 

[HT & PC]

119 pp.

[image]View item(s)

Executive, State Department, Assessment of 1879 & Cabinet Minutes, 1879-1885  [image]View item(s)

Executive, State Department, Assessment of 1879 & Cabinet Minutes, 1879-1885  [image]View item(s)

Box 3 Foreign Correspondence

1852-1889 

[PC & HT]

15 items

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1890-1899 

[PC]

31 items

[image]View item(s)

1900-1902 

[PC]

50 items

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1903-1905 

[PC]

61 items

[image]View item(s)

1906-1911 

[PC]

38 items

[image]View item(s)

1873-1875 , letterbook

[PC]

pp. 1-118

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1873-1875 , letterbook

[PC]

pp. 119-299

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1873-1875 , letterbook

[PC]

pp. 300-425

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1873-1875  , letterbook

[PC]

pp. 426-575

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1876-1877 , letterbook

[PC]

pp. 1-119

[image]View item(s)

1876-1877 , letterbook

[PC]

pp. 120-274

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1876-1877 , letterbook

[PC]

pp. 275-397

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1876-1877 , letterbook

[PC]

pp. 398-569

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Domestic Correspondence

1872 , letterbook

[PC]

20 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1879-1912 

[PC]

11 items

[image]View item(s)

1872-1873 

[HT]

8 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1874-1875 

[HT]

8 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1875-1876 

[HT]

18 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1879-1882 

[HT]

7 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1883-1892 

[HT]

22 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1898-1903 

[HT]

19 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1907-1912 

[HT]

11 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1879-1882 , letterbook index

[PC]

24 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1879-1882 , letterbook

[PC]

pp. 1-197

[image]View item(s)

1872-1873 , letterbook

[PC]

pp. 198-393

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1883-1892 , letterbook index

[PC]

13 pp.

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1883-1892 , letterbook

[PC]

pp. 1-150

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1883-1892 , letterbook

[PC]

pp. 151-257

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1883-1892 , letterbook

[PC]

pp. 258-385

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Legislative Correspondence

Box 4 1888-1895 

[HT]

4 pp.

[image]View item(s)

Miscellaneous

Miscellaneous

3 items re: slave ship "Quail" 1860-1861

1 item "Liberian Load, 1871"

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Legislative & Executive Correspondence, 1891-1897  [image]View item(s)

Subseries: Treasury Department

General Correspondence

1862 

[HT]

14 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1868 

[PC]

8 pp.

[image]View item(s)

Letterbook, 1869 

[PC]

10 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1872-1873 , letterbook

[PC]

20 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1872-1874 , letterbook

[PC]

96 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1875-1876 

[PC]

3 items

[image]View item(s)

1877-1878 , letterbook

[PC]

42 pp.

[image]View item(s)

Customs, General Correspondence, 1908-1909 [image]View item(s)

Account Books

1868-1874 

[PC]

220 pp.

[image]View item(s)

Subseries: Interior Department

General Correspondence

1902 

[PC]

2 items

[image]View item(s)

Native Appellate Court Records

Grand Bassa Co., 1909 

[PC]

[image]View item(s)

Subseries: Justice Department

Native Shipping Bureau Correspondence [image]View item(s)

1891-1894 

[PC]

124 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1891-1894 

[HT]

8 pp.


Subseries: War Department

Reports

1892-1901 

[PC]

3 items

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Subseries: County Governments

Superintendent's Correspondence

Grand Bassa Co., 1909-1911 

[PC]

10 items

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Sinoe Co., 1910-1911 

[PC]

27 items

[image]View item(s)

Maryland Co., 1910-1911 

[PC]

15 items

[image]View item(s)

General Correspondence

Grand Bassa Co., 1898 

[HT]

21 pp.

[image]View item(s)

Series: Legislative

Subseries: Legislature

Minutes

1839-1841 

[PC]

78 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1842-1844 

[PC]

75 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1845-1847 

[PC]

76 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1840-1846 

[HT]

1 pp.

[image]View item(s)

General Correspondence

1899-1909 

[PC & HT]

[image]View item(s)

Presidential Report, 1900

[HT]

7 pp.

[image]View item(s)

Presidential Report, 1900

[PC]

53 pp.

[image]View item(s)

Bills

1860-1904 

[PC]

3 items

[image]View item(s)

Subseries: Senate

Minutes

1848-1925 [image]View item(s)

1853-1954 [image]View item(s)

1853-1954

1856-1858 

[PC]

69 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1856-1858 

[HT]

42 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1859-1860 [image]View item(s)

1860-1861 [image]View item(s)

1864/1865 [image]View item(s)

1865/1866 [image]View item(s)

1866-1867 

[PC]

96 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1867-1868 

[PC]

127 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1868-1869 

[PC]

89 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1869-1870 

[PC]

135 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1870-1871, Part I

[PC]

72 pp.

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1870-1871, Part II

[PC]

97 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1870-1871

[HT]

21 pp.

[image]View item(s)

Senate, Minutes, 1871-1872 [image]View item(s)

1871-1872 , Part I

[PC]

112 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1871-1872 , Part II

[PC]

126 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1871-1872 , Part III

[PC]

100 pp.

[image]View item(s)

Box 5 1872-1873 

[PC]

120 pp.

[image]View item(s)

General Correspondence

1874-1908 

[PC & HT

15 items

[image]View item(s)

Miscellaneous

Members of the Senate, 1887-1914

[MS]

16 pp.

[image]View item(s)

Subseries: House of Representatives

Minutes

1850-1851 

[HT]

2 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1850-1851 [image]View item(s)

1855-1856 [image]View item(s)

1857-1858 [image]View item(s)

1867-1868 

[PC]

66 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1868-1869 [image]View item(s)

1868-1869 

[PC]

115 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1869-1870 

[PC]

23 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1869-1870 

[PC]

80 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1869-1870 [image]View item(s)

1870-1871 

[PC]

73 pp.

[image]View item(s)

Miscellaneous, 1848-1921 [image]View item(s)

General Correspondence

1873-1905 

[PC]

8 items

[image]View item(s)

Series: Judicial

Subseries: Commonwealth

Monthly Court Records

1838-1842 

[PC & HT]

89 pp.

[image]View item(s)

Subseries: Territory of Grand Cape Mount

Probate and Monthly Court Recrods

1905-1914 , Part 1

[PC]

146 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1905-1914 , Part 2

[PC]

148 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1905-1914 Copy 2, Part 1

[PC]

146 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1905-1914 , Copy 2, Part 2

[PC]

148 pp.

[image]View item(s)

Index to Probate & Monthly Court, 1905-1914

[MS]

4 pp.

[image]View item(s)

Subseries: Grand Bassa County

General Records

1892-1899 

[PC]

16 pp.

[image]View item(s)

Court of Common Pleas and Quarter Sessions Records

1906-1909 

[PC]

2 items

[image]View item(s)

Subseries: Maryland County

Court of Common Pleas and Quarter Sessions Records

1908-1909 

[MS & HT]

8 pp.

[image]View item(s)

Justice of the Peace Records

Hearing before the Justices of the Peace at Harper, Nov. 1, 3, 4 1899

[PC]

10 pp.

[image]View item(s)

Subseries: Montserrado County

Monthly and Probate Court Records

1873-1883 

[PC & HT]

5 pp.

[image]View item(s)

Wills, 1902-1907 , Part 1

[PC & HT]

73 pp.

[image]View item(s)

Wills, 1902-1907 , Part 2

[PC]

88 pp.

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1902-1909 , Part 1

[PC]

99 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1902-1909 , Part 2

[PC]

108 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1902-1909 , Part 3

[PC]

85 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1902-1909 , Part 4

[PC]

83 pp.

[image]View item(s)

Indexes, 1902-1909

[MS & HT]

23 pp.

[image]View item(s)

Court of Quarter Sessions and Common Pleas Records

1860-1876 

[MS, PC & HT]

17 pp.

[image]View item(s)

November 1871-February 1872 , Part 1

[PC]

81 pp.

[image]View item(s)

Box 6 November 1871-February 1872 , Part 2

[PC]

80 pp.

[image]View item(s)

November 1871-February 1872 , Part 3

[PC]

80 pp.

[image]View item(s)

November 1871-February 1872 , Part 4

[PC]

63 pp.

[image]View item(s)

November 1871-February 1872 

[HT]

90 pp.

[image]View item(s)

November 1871-February 1872 

[HT &PC]

96 pp.

[image]View item(s)

November 1871-February 1872 

[MS]

11 pp.

[image]View item(s)

Civil & Criminal Docket, 1895-1898 [image]View item(s)

Subseries: Sinoe County

General Correspondence

1896-1906 

[PC]

5 items

[image]View item(s)

Court of Quarter Sessions and Common Pleas Reports

1899-1900 

[HT]

5 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1900-1902 

[HT & MS]

15 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1901-1903 

[HT]

13 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1904-1905 

[HT]

17 pp.

[image]View item(s)

1904-1907 

[PC]

41 pp.

[image]View item(s)

Series: Miscellaneous

General Correspondence, G.W. Gibson, 1870

[PC]

5 pp.


General Correspondence, J.W. Tucker, 1874

[PC]

21 pp.


Items Relating to the "Regina Coeli" Affair

[PC]

92 pp.

[image]View item(s)

Franco-Liberian Agreement, 8 December 1892

[HT & PC]

8 pp.

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Franco-Liberian Agreement, 8 September 1909

[PC]

6 pp.

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Unidentified Historical Manuscript (incomplete), post-1904

[PC]

20 pp.

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General Records, 1892-1911

[PC]

2 items

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Articles of Agreement Between Republic of LIbera and American Colonization Society,1848

5 photographs

Bibliography - Print Sources

  • Dunn, D. Elwood, et al. Historical Dictionary of Liberia, Second Edition. London:Scarecrow Press, .
  • Holsoe, Svend. Liberian Government Archival Documents (Unpublished Manuscript, 1995)
  • Liebenow, J. Gus. Liberia: The Evolution of Privelege. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1969.
  • Liebenow, J. Gus. Liberia: The Quest for Democracy. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1987.
  • Schick, Tom W. "A Catalog of the National Archives of the Liberian Government." History in Africa31976: 193-202
  • Bibliography - Electronic Sources

  • http://www.onliberia.org/Liberia.htm