American Colonization Society / Liberia Collection - PP161

Collection finding aids of Photograph Collections in the Prints and Photographs Division of the Maryland Historical Society Library

Not dated (1860s?)

Prints and Photographs Division, Maryland Historical Society
201 W. Monument St.
Baltimore, MD 21201

Finding aid created by Katherine Cowan with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, February 2000 


The American Colonization Society was founded in 1817 to support the emigration of free-born African Americans and emancipated slaves from the United States to Africa. Among the local branches founded at the same time was the Maryland State Colonization Society. The project had particular interest for Maryland as the American state with the largest number of free African Americans.

With financial assistance from local chapters, churches, and the legislatures of border states, the society paid for the transportation of freed slaves and free-born African Americans to a designated site in West Africa, and assisted with supporting them there. In 1821, a site was acquired for the settlement in the region of Cape Mesurado (Montserrado), soon to be called Monrovia, Liberia. Monrovia was named for U.S. President James Monroe, and Liberia was a derived from the Latin word for "free man". In 1822, Methodist minister Jehudi Ashmun became the director of the settlement. As a result of controversy among both pro- and anti-slavery factions in the U.S. coupled with funding difficulties, the society declined after 1840, but did assist in resettling around 6000 free blacks from America between 1821 and 1867. The organization was not dissolved until 1912.

In Maryland, the society's activities were subsidized at times by the State Legislature. Censuses of the free African American population helped the state to identify eligible emigrants. Reports of poor treatment of the new arrivals by local West Africans led to the founding of a separate colony in West Africa for Maryland's emigrants in the 1830s, and Maryland physician James Hall was enlisted to acquire twenty acres at Cape Palmas, Liberia. The new settlement, called Maryland in Liberia, was centered around the town of Harper, named for General Robert Goodloe Harper of the American Colonization Society.

Collection Origin

Source unknown, possibly part of gift/deposit by Dr. James Hall, 1867 (1867.21), or transfer from MS. 571, 1962 (57681).

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of 1 box with 26 photoprints which were originally part of an album, the binding of which remains in the collection. Undated but thought to have been created in the 1860s, the photographs document towns, people, dignitaries and officials (identified) in Liberia and Sierra Leone, West Africa, including towns of Monrovia and Harper.

Note: Collection also contains map of township of Harper at Cape Palmas, Liberia.

Note: Related materials are found in the Manuscripts Department of the Maryland Historical Society: MS. 571, the Maryland State Colonization Society Papers, 1827-1871.


The photographs have been removed from the album and are arranged in folders, each image having been given a PP catalog number. It is not known whether the PP catalog numbering corresponds to the original order of the images in the album.

Container List

1 Box

Box 1: 8 Folders

Box 1, Folder 1
PP161.I.1 - Swedish and Norwegian Consulate, Broad St.

PP161.I.2 - View of Sierra Leone.

PP161.I.3 - Ashmun St., showing identified buildings including dwellings, religious buildings, and a monument to Ex. President Roberts.

PP161.I.4 - 1st Regiment Montserrado County, Liberia., many people identified. Dup/copy negative Z24.1521.

Box 1, Folder 2
PP161.I.5 - City residence of C.T.O. King on Gurley St.

PP161.I.6 - View of Water St., Monrovia, showing waterfront and identified boats and buildings including Jesse Sharp and other warehouses.

PP161.I.7 - View of Monrovia from Bar-mouth.

PP161.I.8 - C.T.O. King.

Box 1, Folder 3
PP161.I.9 - View of Water St., showing waterfront and identified buildings including Gen. Sherman's business, Thos. Cooper's residence, H.D. Brown's store, and residence of the late Ex. Mayor Keller.

PP161.I.10 - King Jimmy Point, Water St., Sierra Leone.

PP161.I.11 - Market House, Sierra Leone.

PP161.I.12 - View of Water St., showing identified buildings including Dutch factory warehouse and wharf, H. Cooper's residence, and Roye Bros. Store.

PP161.I.13 - Gen. R.A. Sherman's residence, Ashmun St.

Box 1, Folder 4
PP161.I.14 - Governor of Sierra Leone receiving native chiefs. Many people identified including Acting Governor Pinketh, Hon. T.J. Sawyer, M.C., Sheriff John Meheux, D. Carrol Master, Col. Secretary Griffiths, and Collector of Customs Stewart.

PP161.I.15-17 - Princesses, identified by first name.

Box 1, Folder 5
PP161.I.18 - Presdt. H.R.W. Johnson.

PP161.I.19 - Postmaster General Wiles.

PP161.I.20 - General Sherman.

PP161.I.21 - Vice Presdt. Jas. M. Thompson.

PP161.I.22 -View of Water St., Monrovia, showing identified buildings including Custom House, Post Office, Cooper and Son's warehouse, store, shopyard, and powder magazine.

Box 1, Folder 6
PP161.I.23 - View of Wake St., showing identified buildings including Market House, City Hall, Executive Mansion, and residences of Hon. J.W. Wiles and Col. A.D. Williams. Dup/copy neg Z24.1520.

PP161.I.24 - American Colonization Society's Warehouse, Monrovia.

Box 1, Folder 7
PP161.I.25 - United States Legation, Broad St.

PP161.I.26 - Executive Mansion, Monrovia.

Box 1, Folder 8
Plan of the Township of Harper at Cape Palmas, Liberia, map. 4 negatives. Duplicate of items in MS. 571. © 2001 Maryland Historical Society - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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