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Date: Sun, 19 Nov 1995 14:51:43 GMT-5
Sender: H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@msu.edu>
Organization: East Tennessee State University
Subject: REPLY: Sources on the History of Liberia
To: Multiple recipients of list H-AFRICA <H-AFRICA@msu.edu>

Sources on the History of Liberia

From a dialog on the H-Africa List, November 1995

Date sent: Sat, 18 Nov 1995
From: Walter Clarke <worldata@clarke.win.net>

I read with great interest William Storey's note of 20 October under this subject heading. I am certainly not a scholar on Liberia. However, through my membership in a UK postal history group, I am in receipt of a letter from Dr. Philip Cockrill, an eminent postal historian. In his letter, he inquires about sources for additional information on the Fisherman's Lake US Army Air Corps air facility in Liberia, which I assume to be the WWII air base, then known as Lake Piso, which you cite in your note.

Dr. Cockrill reports that the first flight from New York to Fisherman's Lake took place on 7 December 1941, following arrangements made in secret between President Roosevelt and Liberian President Barclay. According to Dr. Cockrill, the air base serviced a dozen or so Pan American seaplances which ferried men and supplies to Liberia. The base was also used by RAF aircraft and crews.

Dr. Cockrill is looking for personal comments by military or civilian personnel who might have used the Fisherman's Lake facilities during the war. I have informed him of the probable availability of official records at the National Archives.

Does anyone have any suggestions about the availability of Liberian or foreign sources on the activities around Fisherman's Lake during and after the war? Please reply directly to my address, given above.

Date sent: Thu, 19 Oct 1995
From: Stephen Smith, University of Arkansas <libertas@comp.uark.edu>

The best collection of legal history is at Cornell, where Milton Konvitz headed the Liberian Codification Project. The Library of Congress holds the records of the American Colonization Society and copies of the African Repository.

I am presently working on a study of J.J. Roberts, the first president of the First Republic, who was originally from Petersburg, VA. I'd appreciate any leads related to his life, either primary or secondary.

Date sent: Fri, 20 Oct 1995
From: William Storey, Harvard University <storey@husc.harvard.edu>

In the late 1980s I began and then abandoned a project on Liberia. I am sure your student is already familiar with the basic archival sources mentioned in Gus Liebenow's survey and Tom Shick's history of the Americo-Liberian settlers. There are some archival sources which may have become available recently:

The U.S. National Archives has holdings concerning the U.S. Army Air Corps and O.S.S. involvement in Liberia during the Second World War. The Army had a rather large airfield there which I suspect contributed strongly to the commercialization of the area, among other things. In the late 1980s these documents were still under the 50-year gag rule, so obviously now would be a good time to inquire about them.

In the mid-1980s the Firestone Corporation donated some materials on its presence in Liberia to the library at the University of Akron. When I contacted the library they told me that Firestone had not yet decided on a policy about access to the documents. At the time Bridgestone had just bought Firestone and the Liberian civil war was just breaking out, so it was not a good time for me to be making inquiries about potentially sensitive materials. It would certainly be worth contacting the library again now. I am only sorry that I have lost the addresses and telephone numbers.

The most knowledgeable person I know about Liberian archival materials is Svend Holsoe, an anthropology professor at the University of Delaware. He helped to found the national archives in Liberia.

Date sent: Fri, 20 Oct 1995
From: GHordon Thomasson, SUNY-Broome Community College <THOMASSON_G@sunybroome.edu>

The first place to look is Indiana University, especially with the new archives there and the accession of Sven Holsoe's papers and (I believe) those of Gus Liebenow. Also, there is LSA-L@UGA.CC.UGA.EDU, a list that was created to serve the needs of the Liberian Studies Association (and touches many of the active scholars in the field), and also carries some non-scholarly Liberian traffic. As one-time president of the LSA I'd be glad to help where I can.

Date sent: Fri, 20 Oct 1995
From: Sandra E. Greene, Cornell University <seg6@cornell.edu>

May I suggest getting in touch with Ibrahim Sundiata at Brandeis University. He has conducted quite a bit of archival research on Libera, and of course published a book on Liberian history some time ago: *Black Scandal*. Sundiata, who do not believe is on e-mail, can be reached at: African and Afro-American Studies, P. O Box 9110, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts, 02254-9110.

Date sent: Fri, 20 Oct 1995
From: Gordon Thomasson, SUNY-Broome Community College <THOMASSON_G@sunybroome.edu>

Oops, blush. How could I have omitted the *Liberian Studies Journal* of the Liberian Studies Association, which is alive, well and chock full of useful articles, reviews, dissertation notices, etc.

From: Phil Robinson <Phil_Robinson@OAR.ucsd.edu>
Date sent: Mon, 20 Nov 1995

This past weekend I was reading *A Third of a Century with George Harley* by his wife Winifred Harley. She discusses the initiation of Pan Am service through Liberia on Lake Piso prior to the construction of Robertsfield by the US govt. The Clippers landed on Lake Piso and then a smaller plane called The Duck transferred passengers from there to Monrovia.

While in the Library of Congress in October, I was looking through some archival indices on Liberia and came across various references to the Roberts Field project and made some notes as to the archive reference numbers--they were military sources principally.

Before reading the Harley account, I was never aware that Lake Piso was used. The daughter of Hans Van Ness Allen--author of *I Found Africa* (1939)--told me that she suspected that her father (deceased in 1991) may have returned to Liberia after becoming a pilot in the Army Air Corps. Originally he was there in the 30s. I do not know if there are any personal papers on his potential later Liberian escapades, but this is a good opportunity to find out and a convenient reason for me to give them a call (he has some boxes of old diaries etc in the closets of his children in Oklahoma).

Date sent: Sat, 21 Oct 1995
From: Martin Klein, University of Toronto <mklein@epas.utoronto.ca>

On Firestone archives, you might check with Frank Chalk, Department of History, Concordia U, Montreal.

Date sent: Thu, 26 Oct 95
From: Scopas S. Poggo, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara <6500scop@ucsbuxa.ucsb.edu>

I would suggest that Professor Elwood Dunn, a Liberian scholar at the University of the South, can be contacted for more information about archival research in Liberia and elsewhere around the world. He has written a book on the History of the Episcopal Church in Liberia; I do not remember the exact title. I do not have his address and e-mail. But I think you can check the address of the University of the South in Tennessee. Dr. Dunn is a full professor there.

Editor's Note:
The basic address is
University of the South Sewanee, TN 37375