Historic Resources For Researchers

This project is based on the primary source collections of several important institutions. The single most useful primary source for information on Virginia emigrants to Liberia is the very large collection of American Colonization Society papers held in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. A vast collection of incoming domestic letters from every part of the United States, many from Virginians, is organized chronologically. After 1830, much of the bound correspondence has a name index. A smaller, but still extensive, collection of letters from Liberia includes many from black Virginians. Responses to these letters by the Secretary of the American Colonization Society (ACS) are part of the outgoing correspondence.

But this collection does not begin to exhaust the resources of the Library of Congress. Many more are available in Geography and Maps, Prints and Photographs, Folklife Division, Recorded Sound, Toner Rare Book Collection, General Collection and especially the Manuscript Division. A selection of these resources is available online at their African-American Mosaic and American Memory sites, but a search of each of the Library's divisions will yield unexpected treasures from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The ACS papers are available on microfilm.

The second most valuable source is the Svend Holsoe Collection at Indiana University. It includes copies of nineteenth and twentieth century official Liberian documents that show land distribution and conveyance, proclamations and flyers, letters of Liberian officials, records of military skirmishes, letters from British and American naval captains and coastal traders, and newspapers. This collection has recently been accessioned in the Archive of Traditional Music.

Both the Library of Virginia and the Virginia Historical Society have collections related to the American Colonization Society and Liberia. The records of Benjamin Brand as secretary of the Richmond-Manchester Colonization Auxiliary and later of the Virginia Colonization Society are at the Virginia Historical Society and include a correspondence between Brand and emigrants from Richmond and Petersburg.