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The W.A. Whitten Collection, 1962-1991

Electronic finding aid encoded by Megan MacDonald

Summary Information

Repository
Liberian Collections
Indiana University
504 North Fess Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47408
Phone: (812) 856-0782
Email: liberia@indiana.edu
https://libraries.indiana.edu/african-studies

Creator
W.A. Whitten

Title
The W.A. Whitten Collection , 1962-1991

Collection No.
LCP2009/004

Extent
2 cubic feet; 2 records cartons, 86 artifacts, 669 color transparencies

Language
Materials are primarily in English

Abstract
Willie A. Whitten completed his Ed.D. from Indiana University in 1966. He made several trips to Liberia throughout the 1960s and 1970s as a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) worker in order to gather research for his dissertation. His research interests include education in Liberian villages with an emphasis on adult education and the conducting and planning of town meetings. This collection consists of newspaper and magazine articles from Liberia, government reports, and materials from the Voinjama School District, as well as 11 open reel tape recordings of town meetings and music from Liberian tribes. Also included are a collection of color transparencies showing images of tribal villages and culture, as well as a set of 86 artifacts containing items such as musical instruments, household tools, textiles, and decorative figurines.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Biographical Note

Willie Amzie Whitten, Jr., was born on August 14, 1929, in a small rural community in Choctaw County, Mississippi . His formal education began at Weir High School, from which he graduated in 1946. He attended Mississippi College during the 1946-1947 academic year and served in the United States Army in 1947. Whitten married Anna Lucille Stinnett from Addison, Kentucky, on June 6, 1948. They enrolled in Mississippi College together in September, 1948, and graduated in June, 1951. Thereafter, Willie attended the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky and received a Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1954.

From 1956 to 1963, Whitten served as associate director of the Seminary Extension Department of the Southern Baptist Convention. His main duties were establishing and operating adult religious education learning centers in Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Louisiana and Texas. Other duties included curriculum development and the preparation of course-writing guides.

Whitten began a doctoral program in adult education at Indiana University in 1959. In 1963, while completing his graduate studies, Whitten accepted an assignment to Liberia with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to conduct research that would address the urgent educational needs of people living in traditional communities in rural Liberia. The goal of his research was to discover ways for educational leaders and other visitors to improve the use of town meetings for educational purposes. He found the research to be valuable not only in Liberia at the time, but in similar circumstances in other developing nations in the years that followed. His four-year assignment in Liberia provided a rare opportunity for Whitten and changed the direction of his dissertation research and his professional career. He graduated with a doctorate in education in 1966.

During the early stages of his research, Whitten began an informal collection of rice farming tools, musical instruments, small furniture and other artifacts and items that were in use by the traditional peoples with whom he worked. Priority was given to items commonly recognized, accepted and in actual use at the time. These items would form part of the W.A. Whitten Collection, which he donated to the Indiana University Liberian Collections in 2009.

Whitten received career status in the Foreign Service in 1965 while on assignment in Liberia, and was later commissioned as a Foreign Service Officer. During his career of nearly twenty-five years, he achieved the personal rank of FS-1 before retiring in 1987. Whitten had two assignments at USAID Washington and four separate assignments to foreign posts. The first was to Liberia, as described above. This was followed by two years in Tanzania from 1968 to 1970, two years in Afghanistan from 1970 to 1972 and a second assignment to Liberia for over three years from 1977 to 1981. Additionally, he was given numerous short-term assignments overseas to Anglophone countries in Africa and parts of Asia.

This variety of overseas experiences brought the Whittens in close personal and professional relationships with many foreign leaders and local citizens. Occasionally, Whitten’s work led to contacts with senior government officials and, in some instances, heads of state. However, the typical experience was with local government ministries, donor agencies of other governments, and private organizations, in the design and implementation of joint project undertakings involving USAID funding. Whitten welcomed cross-cultural exchanges throughout his career, and focused in particular on advocating and testing new educational technologies and approaches for their use in local communities.

Whitten is currently busy in retirement in the Atlanta, Georgia area. He remains active in the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) and returns to the Department of State for Foreign Affairs Day in early May of each year. From 1991 to 2002, he served as State Chaplain of the Georgia Good Sams, a national association of campers. Willie and Lucille Whitten continue to be active in the Johns Creek Baptist Church and other community organizations.

Arrangement

The W.A. Whitten Collection is organized into three series:
  • Printed materials
  • Audiovisual
  • Artifacts
.

Scope and Content

The W.A. Whitten Collection spans the period from 1962-1991 and is organized into three series: Printed Materials, Audiovisual , and Artifacts.

The Printed Materials series contains the sub-series Published Materials, Government Reports , and School Materials. All items are organized alphabetically by the author’s last name. If an author is unavailable, the title is used instead. Published Materials includes books and articles from newspapers, magazines, and journals published in Liberia or covering topics pertinent to Liberian culture or history. Dates span 1964-1991. The Government Reports sub-series contains an economic survey from 1962, some of William Tolbert’s presidential papers, and education reports. The sub-series spans 1962-1983. School Materials include an annual report, commencement exercises, and a student tribute program to President Tubman, all from the Voinjama District spanning 1963-1977.

The Audiovisual series contains two sub-series: Open Reel Tape and Color Transparencies . The Open Reel Tape sub-series contains 11 reels of open reel tapes with recorded town meetings and music from Liberian villages. Dates span 1965-1977. Tapes are numbered and arranged as received by Whitten. There are 669 color transparencies that have been digitized and are available through the Indiana University Image Collections Online. These slides are largely images of Liberian villages and include topics such as village life, parades and processions, town landscapes, dancers, musicians, agricultural facilities, art and handicrafts, village leaders, and rituals. Images span 1961-1978.

The Artifacts series includes physical objects brought back from Liberia by Willie and Lucille Whitten. Examples of objects include textiles, tools, musical instruments, masks, and decorative carvings. These artifacts are cataloged and stored by the Mathers Museum of World Cultures at Indiana University. The dates of these objects are unknown. They are arranged alphabetically according to subject, with descriptions and sub-categories provided by Whitten.

  • Indexing Terms

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

    • Whitten, W.A.
    • Tolbert, William R., 1913-1980
    • Tubman, William V.S., 1895-1971
    • Liberia
    • Voinjama (Liberia)
    • United States. Agency for International Development

Separated Materials

A total of 86 artifacts and textiles are housed at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures. Color transparencies have been digitized and all 669 are available online through the Indiana University Image Collections Online , courtesy of the Indiana University Digital Library Program. Willie A. Whitten’s dissertation is available upon request at the Indiana University Auxiliary Library Facility.

Administrative Information

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], W.A. Whitten Collection, Bloomington, IN: Liberian Collections, Indiana University Libraries, 2009.
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.
Custodial History
Materials were collected during Whitten’s visits to Liberia in the 1960s and 1970s and were donated to the Indiana University Liberian Collections in 2009.
Processing Information
Processed by Alison Reynolds.

Completed in 2012.


Series: Printed Materials

Subseries: Published Materials

african arts/ arts d’afrique . Volume 1, Number 1, Autumn 1967

The African Studies Center of the University of California at Los Angeles


Balk, Diane M., “Liberian takeover came as no surprise to vice president”

From the Courier-Journal, Louisville, KY , April ____, 1980


Corder, S. Henry, editor. Lofa Times

A newspaper published bi-weekly by the Lofa County Publication Project, a writing association, November 4, 1966, Voinjama, Liberia.


Dash, Leon. “Liberia Moves Toward Civilian Rule 3 Years After Military Took Power”

From The Washington Post, Washington, D. C., April 17, 1983


Dash, Leon. “Tolbert Dies in Liberian Army Coup”

From Washington Post Foreign Service, Washington, D. C., April __, 1980


Dennis, James C. Sr., Publisher, Palm , Volume 1, Number 1, April 1966

Liberia's Monthly Newsmagazine


Dennis, James C. Sr., Publisher, Palm , Volume 5, Number 10-12, circa November 1969

Liberia's Monthly Newsmagazine


Dennis, James C. Sr., Unificiation Volume 1, Number 1, August 1966

Liberia’s Cultural, Social and Economic Review. Pp. 2-3 missing


Dennis, James C. Sr., Unificiation Volume 1, Number 2, October 1966

Liberia’s Cultural, Social and Economic Review.


Dietz, Betty Warner and Michael Babatunde Olatunji. Musical Instruments of Africa - Their Nature, Use and Place in the Life of a Deeply Musical People. The John Day Company, New York, 1965.

Introduction by Colin M. Turnbull, Curator of African Ethnology, American Museum of Natural History including his LP plastic record of African music


Dostert, Pierre Etienne. Africa 1980 – The World Today Series. Stryker-Post Publications, Inc, Washington, D. C., Harpers Ferry, W. Va.

Kennedy, Robert H., Editor. Inside Lofa County

With introduction by Bill Frank.


Martin, Donald M. “Tragedy in Liberia” , The Commission.

Magazine of the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, June/July 1991.


Robbins, Warren M. African Art in American Collections. Fredrick A. Praeger Publishers, 1966

In English and French.


Sarkesian, Sam. Faces of Africa. American Cultural Center, United States Information Service , circa 1965-1969

Schwab, George and George W. Harley. "Tribes of the Liberian Hinterland." Papers of the Peabody Museum of American Anthropology and Ethnology , Vol. 31, 1947, 536 pp

An authorized reprint of the original edition, produced by University Microfilms- Xerography by University Microfilms, Inc., Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1964


Sutherland, Efua. Playtime in Africa . Murray Printing Company, Forge Village, Massachusetts, 1969.

Wilkinson, David R., editor. “Couple maintains faith during Liberian civil war.” The Tie, News about the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary , Volume 59, Number 2 Spring 1991

From Louisville, Kentucky.


Wreh, Tuan. THE LOVE OF LIBERTY , The Rule of President William V. S. Tubman in Liberia 1944-1971., C. Hurst & Company,London, 1976

Subseries: Government Reports

Economic Survey of Liberia. Nortwestern University, 1962

This is the final report of a study conducted January-August, 1962 by Northwestern University under a contract with the Agency for International Development (Now known as the United States Agency for International Development – USAID).


Hartzler, Lynn P. Rural School Development .

Liberia, Rural School Development Project No. 669-11-640-037, U-520 report for the period 1958-1967, (Internal agency mimeo-graphed report, 197 pp., August 1967, USAID/Liberia).


LIBERIA, EDUCATION AND TRAINING SECTOR ASSESSMENT .

Government of Liberia (GOL) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID), December. 1983


Specialist Services and Fellowships for Staff Development .Ministry of Education, Monrovia, August 20, 1982

Tolbert, William R., Jr. Republic of Liberia Presidential Papers , Documents Diary and Record of Activities of the CHIEF EXECUTIVE, July 23, 1971- July 31, 1972. Published by the Executive Mansion, Monrovia, R.L.

Tolbert, William R., Jr. Republic of Liberia Presidential Papers , Documents Diary and Record of Activities of the CHIEF EXECUTIVE, August 1, 1972- July 31, 1973 & August 1, 1973- July 31, 1974 . Published by the Press Division of the Executive Mansion, 1975.

Subseries: School Materials

Kennedy, Robert H., editor. A Tribute to President Tubman and His Unification Policy by Students of the Western Province February 14-19, 1963

Korvah, Frederick, principal. The Annual Report of Voinjama Public School Covering the Period of June 23, 1964 to June 24, 1965.

Whitten, Willie A., speaker. Travelers on the Road to Higher Heights.

Commencement Address, Voinjama High School, Transcript from tape recording by ELWA radio, December 9, 1977. (see Part II., Reel # 9, Item # 109.waw for the original tape).


Zaizay, Augustine J.Voinjama High School and Voinjama Extension High School, Eighteenth Commencement Exercises.

Program schedule and list of graduates, December 4, 1977 (with attached sheet of notes on school history).


Series: Audiovisual

Subseries: Open Reel Tapes

Reel 1: Town Meeting

1 open reel tape; 7 inches; 3 3/4 ips

  • Side A Tape Counter (0-end) Lawalazu – Town Meeting #1 – March 16, 1965, 61 min.
  • Side B Blank Recording of Lawalazu Town Meeting discussing the impact of the road being built through the Voinjama province linking Lawalazu to other villages and Monrovia. Town improvements, such as the creation of a clinic and larger schools, farming conditions, and ways for getting more girls to attend school are also discussed. Meeting is led by Willie A. Whitten and the Lawalazu Chief, with assistance from interpreter James K. Kimmah

Includes nine pages of the meeting transcript text copied from Whitten’s dissertation. Also includes a diagram and list of participants in the meeting and photocopies of correspondence between Whitten, Lofa County Superintendent Robert H. Kennedy, Bandie Chief Kollie, Kissie Chief Taylor, and P.C.V. Bob Sable discussing plans for scheduling the meeting.

See color transparencies # for images of the Lawalazu and Borkezar sessions


Reel 2: Town Meetings and Interviews

1 open reel tape; 7 inches; 1 7/8 ips

  • Side A Tape Counter (1-367) – Town Meeting #2: Bazagizia – April 9, 1965, 62 min. Tape Counter (367-end) – Town Meeting #3: Ngokorhun – May 18, 1965, 63 min.
  • Side B Tape Counter (1-339) – Interview #1: Chief Jigbeh – June 15, 1965, 58 min. Tape Counter (340-end) – Interview #2: Elder Akoi – June 2, 1965, 67 min. Bazagazia town meeting discusses town improvements and sanitation, solutions to farming problems, and the need for a health clinic and furniture in schools. Also discusses different levels of town leadership. Meeting is led by W.A.Whitten in dialogue with the Bazagazia Chief and Interpreter Gabriel Gizzie. Ngokorhun town meeting discusses teachers and the state of education in the town, the need for sturdier school buildings, and other improvement needed in town. These improvements include more land for agricultural development and a school kitchen for feeding students. The meeting is led by Ernest Carmo and W.A. Whitten, with James K. Kimmah as interpreter. Chief Jigbeh from Lawalazu, Voinjama District, Lofa County interviewed by W.A. Whitten with James Kimmah as interpreter. This interview was part of research being conducted by the Lofa County Education Office. It sought specific information about social and economic conditions of tribal people in the Voinjama District. A major focus of this interview was on the past and present role of town meetings in traditional life in the county. Elder Akoi from the town of Voinjama, Lofa County interviewed by W.A. Whitten with James Kimmah as interpreter. This interview was part of research being conducted by the Lofa County Education Office. It sought specific information about social and economic conditions of traditional people in the Voinjama District. The focus of this interview was on activities and changes that occurred in tribal living during the lifetime and experience of the interviewee.

Includes transcripts of Bazagazia and Ngokorhun town meetings and highlights of the interviews with Chief Jigbeh and Elder Akoi


Reel 3: Town Meeting

1 open reel tape; 7 inches;3 3/4 ips

  • Side A Tape Counter (0-end) – Town Meeting #4: Zawadamai – May 15, 1965, 105 min.
  • Side B Tape Counter (0-end) – Town Meeting continued with interview and music at end School vegetable gardens, first-aid in the schools, the benefits of education and trained teachers in the village, and the need for a road through town are discussed. Meeting is led by Earnest Carmo, Adult education Supervisor for Lofa County, and W.A. Whitten, USAID Education Advisor, with assistance from interpreter James K. Kimmah.

Includes Zawadamai Town Meeting Transcript, fifteen pages of text copied from W.A. Whitten’s dissertation


Reel 4: Town Meeting

1 open reel; 7 inches;3 3/4 ips

  • Side ATape Counter (0-end) – Town Meeting #5: Korwahun – March 18, 1965, 61 min.
  • Side BTape Counter (0-end) – Town meeting continued Meeting designed to offer education officials the opportunity to discuss key problems and needs of local town people in the Kolahun area. Topics discussed include schools, roads, health clinics, and a possible hospital. Meeting led by W.A. Whitten and Paramount Chief of the Bandi Tribe, Thomas Kollie.

Reel 5: County Adult Education Workshop #1

1 open reel tape; 7 inches;1 7/8 ips

  • Side A Tape Counter (1-984) – Voinjama Workshop – March 26-27, 1965, 132 min.
  • Side BBlank Workshop provides hands on in-service training for Fundamental Education (FE) workers assigned to teach in remote towns and villages in Lofa County. Supervised by Ernest Carmo with assistance from Raymond B. Jallah, W.A. Whitten, and other Peace Corps volunteers.

Includes list of workshop highlights.


Reel 6: County Adult Education Workshop #2

1 open reel tape; 7 inch;1 7/8 ips

  • Side A Tape Counter (0-654) – County Supervisors Workshop – March 26-27, 1965, 178 min.
  • Side B Blank Workshop provides hands on in-service training for Fundamental Education (FE) workers assigned to teach in remote towns and villages in Lofa County. Supervised by Ernest Carmo with assistance from Raymond B. Jallah, W.A. Whitten, and other Peace Corps volunteers.

Includes list of workshop highlights. Reel #6 is a continuation of the workshop proceedings begun on Tape #5


Reel 7: Lofa School Supervisors Meeting

1 open reel tape; 7 inches; 1 7/8 & 3 ¾ ips

  • Side A Tape Counter (1-376 at 1 7/8 ips) – Supervisors Workshop – March 12-13, 1965 , 153 min. Tape Counter (377-800 at 3 ¾ ips)
  • Side BTape Counter (0-end at 3 ¾ ips) This was a regular meeting of Lofa County school supervisors to review and plan the county school program. Status and problem reports were discussed, acted on and/or referred to the Ministry of Education (MOE). Meeting chaired by Raymond B. Jallah, Lofa County Supervisor of Schools, and attended by W.A. Whitten, USAID Lofa County Education Advisor. District school supervisors were also in attendance.

Includes list of Supervisors Meeting Highlights.


Reel 8: President Tubman Inauguration

1 open reel tape; 5 inches; 3 3/4 ips

  • Side ATape Counter (1-633) – Tubman inauguration speech on ELWA Radio – Jan. 1, 1968, 57 min.
  • Side BTape Counter (1-570) – Speech continued with procession at the end Tubman's final inauguration address as president of Liberia, recorded from a radio broadcast. The recording starts several minutes into the speech and proceeds through the remainder. It includes radio commentator excerpts and continues through the formal procession after the speech.

Includes written comments on the Tubman Address.


Reel 9: Voinjama High School Graduation

1 open reel tape; 7 inches; 3 3/4 ips

  • Side A Tape Counter (1-end) – Graduation Exercises ELWA Radio – Dec. 12, 1977 (Guest Speaker – W.A. Whitten, USAID HRD Officer), 54 min.
  • Side BBlank Speech entitled, “Travelers on the road to higher heights” presented by W.A. Whitten to graduates of the Voinjama High School in 1977. Recorded off of a radio broadcast.

Includes transcript of commencement address and comments on the commencement program.


Reel 10: Lofa County Music – Voinjama District

1 open reel tape; 7 inches; 3 3/4 ips

  • Side A Tape Counter (1-1127) – 13 Selections from Lawalazu Town – March 16, 1965
  • Side B Tape Counter (1-139) – 4 Selections from Betijima Town – March 17, 1965 Tape includes examples of traditional music from the Voinjama District. Examples of songs for grand occasions or processions, songs of praise to the chief, work songs, and songs about daily labor tasks are included.

Includes commentary on music selections.


Reel 11: Lofa County Music

1 open reel tape; 7 inches; 3 3/4 ips

  • Side ATape Counter (1-398) – 5 Selections, Salayea, Zorzor District (Kpelle) – January 28, 1965 Tape Counter (399-956) – 4 Selections, Shello, Kolahun District (Kissi) – January 20, 1965
  • Side BTape Counter (1-867) – 6 Selections, Zorzor, (Zaza Loma) – January 28, 1965 Tape includes a Kpelle horn and drum group, Kissi music sung during farming and labor, and Loma songs about the problems, successes, and anxieties of modern change, such as the Firestone Rubber Plantation.

Includes commentary on music selections.


Subseries: Color Transparencies

The Willie A. and Lucille S. Whitten Photography Collection contains nearly 700 images reproduced from slides taken during the Whittens’ stays in Liberia in the 1960s and 1970s. A native of Mississippi, Mr. Whitten first traveled to Liberia in 1963 on a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) project while completing his graduate studies in adult education. Whitten conducted research for his doctoral dissertation in Lofa County, receiving a Doctorate in Education from Indiana University in 1966. He continued as a USAID education officer in Liberia during the late 1960s. He returned to Liberia in the late 1970s and early 1980s, before and after the violent overthrow of the William Tolbert presidency in the military coup led by Samuel Doe in 1980. The collection includes photographs of the Liberian towns and schools Whitten visited in his USAID work, photographs of Liberian government and cultural events, and family photographs.
Available from the Indiana University Image Collections Online


Series: Artifacts

Willie and Lucille Whitten collected these artifacts during their visits to Liberia in the 1960s and 1970s. They are currently housed at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures at Indiana University. In the finding aid, these items are arranged alphabetically by subject, with subcategories and descriptions provided by Whitten. For a more detailed classification scheme, contact the Mathers Museum.


Subseries: Arts and Crafts

Crafts-Contemporary

Animal Figures

Crocodile (large)

Crocodile (small)

Rooster

Early Settlers Dwelling

Wood Carving Wall Plaques

Left Face

Moslem Male

Right Face

Wood Wall Plaques

Plaque With Faces

Plaque With a Village

Wood Sword Plaque

Woven Baskets

Large Basket

Small Tray

Kissi Pennies

Senufo Anklets

Brass Cuff

Brass Open Ring

Steel Open Ring

Society Masks

Poro Society Mask with Hood and Face Cloth

Poro Society Mask

Sande Head Piece for Young Female Initiate

Senufo Mask

Small Mask Probably for Young Female

Subseries: Figurines and Carvings

Soapstone Figures

Kissi Stone Face

Kissi Stone Family

Small Stone God

Wood Bust Carvings

Female with head piece (small)

Moslem male with cap (medium)

Moslem male without cap (medium)

Young female facing left

Young female facing right

Young female with braided hair

Young female with braided hair-high forehead

Young female with long braids

Young female with plain hair

Young female with side view

Young mother and child

Wood Hand-God Figures

Female Figure

Yoruba Ibeji Twin Figure

Subseries: Household Furniture and Utensils

Broom

Carrying Net

Chief’s Chair

Clay Water Pot (large)

Clay Water Pot (small)

Condiment Basket – Jar type

Fish/Carrying Basket

Large Wood Spoon

Rice Mortar

Scoop

Spice/Nuts Mortar

Stools With Four Legs

Large Wood Stool

Medium Wood Stool

Medium Wood Stool

Small Wood Stool

Subseries: Leisure Items

Games

Decorative Game Board

Plain Game Board (with Bean Tokens)

Society Game Board

Musical Instruments

Belly Harp

Drums

Medium Drum

Small Drum

Small Talking Drum

Iron Bells

Large iron Bell With Wood Stick & Metal Ring

Medium Iron Bell With Wood Stick & Metal Ring

Small Iron Bell With Wood Stick & Metal Ring

Marimba With Two Mallets

Sasa Gourd Rattler

Subseries: Textiles

Boutique-Type Cloth

Blue Cloth #1

Blue Cloth #2

Blue Cloth #3

Chief's Robes

Robe & Cap from Local Weaved Cloth (black, blue, beige & white)

Robe & Cap Commercially made Cloth (bright black, white & blue)

Robe Probably Made from Local Weaved Cloth (beige)

Female Dress (blue)

Local Made Country Cloth Rolls

Dark Color

Light Color

Male Shirt (blue & white)

Raffia Bag (red & beige)

Weaving Loom Parts

Shuttle (oval)

Shuttle (rectangle)

Thread Filter

Subseries: Tools

Smithing

Loma Blacksmith Bellows Pair from Vezela Town

Bellows

Bellows

Upland Rice Farming Tools

Axe

Machete (Cutlass)

Regular Hoe

Scratching Hoe for Rice Planting

Weapons

Knife with Brass Blade and Bone Handle (copy)

Sword with Sheath (copy)