Anacostia Community Museum Archives

Benjamin W. Austin Liberian Autograph Collection

Collection ID:
circa 1862-1895
bulk 1884-1889
Physical Description:
0.06 Linear feet
(1 box) (4 folders)
The collection, which dates from circa 1812-1895 and measures .06 linear feet, is comprised of correspondence from Liberian elected officials and diplomats, and other individuals involved in the American Colonization Society. The primary recipient of these letters is Benjamin W. Austin, an American autograph collector and historian. The collection also includes a lithograph image of Joseph James Cheeseman, the president of Liberia from 1892 until his death in 1896; a collection of autograph cards bearing the signatures of other members of the Liberian government; and a newspaper clipping of an article on the American Colonization Society.

Scope amd Contents note
Scope amd Contents note
The collection which dates from 1862 to 1895, bulk dates 1880-1889, documents an artificial grouping of letters, visiting cards, and articles that address the personalities of various early government officials of what was then the Republic of Liberia. Of particular interest are the series for letters addressed to Rev. Ben W. Austin who was at one time the secretary of the Northwestern Literary and Historical Society in Sioux City and later, the secretary of the Trinity Historical Society in Dallas, Texas. There is also an interesting letter from Joseph J. Roberts, the first President of Liberia.

Arrangement note
Arrangement note
The papers are arranged into two series. Folders are arranged alphabetically within series, while documents are organized chronologically.
  • Series 1: Correspondence
  • Series 2: Printed Material

Biographical/Historical note
Biographical/Historical note
The roots of the country of Liberia can be traced to the American Colonization Society. The society was instrumental in the founding of the colony of Liberia in 1821. Controversial even at its beginnings, it advocated the removal of free people of color from the United States, where they suffered restrictive legislative rights, to Africa. It was thought in Africa, African Americans would enjoy freedoms that would always be denied to them by free whites in the Americas.
Originally begun as a colony of the United States, Liberia was governed by white agents until the appointment of Joseph Jenkins Roberts in 1842. In 1847 Liberia's legislative body voted to declare independence from the United States and elected Roberts as the first President.

Kim L. Dixon
Processing Information note
Finding aid prepared by Kim L. Dixon, 2010-04. Finding aid encoded by Elizabeth Bauerle, 2011-12.

Digital Content
More …
Using the Collection
Preferred Citation note
Benjamin W. Austin Liberian Autograph Collection, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution.
Conditions Governing Access note
Use of the materials requires an appointment. Please contact the archivist to make an appointment:
Ownership and Literary Rights
The Correspondence from the Republic of Liberia collection is the physical property of the Anacostia Community Museum. Literary and copyright belong to the author/creator or their legal heirs and assigns. Rights to work produced during the normal course of Museum business resides with the Anacostia Community Museum. For further information, and to obtain permission to publish or reproduce, contact the Museum Archives.

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Clippings Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Correspondence Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lithographs Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Slavery -- United States Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Signatures (names) Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Liberia Geographic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
American Colonization Society Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Cheeseman, Joseph James, 1843-1896 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Anacostia Community Museum Archives
1901 Fort Place, SE
Washington, D.C. 20020