Contact Information
  • Librarian: Marion Frank-Wilson
  • Location: Herman B Wells Library E660
  • Phone: (812) 855-1481
Libraries & Subjects
last updated: 6/26/2012

Guide to Researching Liberia at IU

Compiled by Jeremy Kenyon, January 2009

  • Liberia - History - 1847-1944
  • Constitutional Law - Liberia
  • Liberia - Description and travel
  • Labor Supply – Liberia
  • Liberia - Politics and Government
  • Voting research – Liberia
  • [Languages or Ethnic Groups]: Kpelle, Vai, Bassa, Kru, Gbandi, Loma
  • [Personal Names]: Tubman, W.V.S.; Johnson-Sirleaf, Ellen; Taylor, Charles Ghankay; Blyden, Edward Wilmot
  • [Places, Organizations, Institutions, etc.]: American Colonization Society; University of Liberia; Liberia Iron and Steel Corporation, Firestone

  • Herman B Wells Library: Reference, Research Stacks, Folklore
  • Government Information, Maps, and Microform Services (in Wells Library)
  • Archives of Traditional Music (ATM)
  • Auxiliary Library Facility (ALF)
  • Fine Arts Library
  • Lilly Library

    This web page describes IU's Liberian collections, but the most valuable general reference available for Liberian studies is Liberian History and Society, an expanded electronic version of a 1971 bibliography published by Svend E. Holsoe. It is free, regularly updated, and features a comprehensive bibliography to publications on Liberia.

    Reference works specifically devoted to Liberia are few in number. Fortunately, there are some relatively recent titles available. Older titles, dating back to the 1960s and 70s also are accessible. Search IUCAT, the library catalog to find them.
  • David, Magdalene Soniia. (1993). Women and Development in Liberia: an annotated bibliography. [East Lansing, Mich.]: Women in International Development, Michigan State University. Z7964.L7 .D28 1993 [ALF]
  • Dunn, D. Elwood. (2002). Historical dictionary of Liberia. 2nd ed. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press.
  • Dunn, D. Elwood.(1995). Liberia (World Bibliographical Series, no. 157). 2nd ed.Oxford: Clio Press. DT624 .D85 1995 [Stacks]
  • Holsoe, Svend E. (1971). A bibliography on Liberia. Newark, N.J.: Dept. of Anthropology, University of Delaware. Z3821 .H755 v.1-3 [Reference]
  • Korte, Werner. (1999). Liberia, a bibliography (1988-1998) with special references to civil war. Leipzig: institute fur Afrikanistik. DT636.5 .K67 1999 [Stacks]
  • Kappel, Robert. (1989). A bibliography of books and articles on Liberia: as edited in German speaking countries since 1960. Bremen: Liberia Working Group. Z3821 .K37 1989 [ALF]
  • Mount, Sigrid D. (1979). A bibliography of the traditional arts and crafts of the Kpelle, Gbandi, Loma and Mende: the Southwestern Mande-speakers of Liberia. Bloomington, IN: Department of Fine Arts.

    The IU Libraries possess rich primary source collections on Liberia. The strongest of these collections are those associated with the Liberian Collections Project, but there are many others in the IU libraries, mostly on microfilm. Searching IUCAT will provide the full list.
    Here are a few examples:
  • Albert Porte papers (early newspapers) [microfilm: 10 reels]
  • American Colonization Society records [microfilm: 330 reels]
  • The collection of the Honourable Louis Arthur Grimes [microfilm: 6 reels]
  • 132 publications in the Loma Language [microfilm: 3 reels]
  • Irene Holley papers, 1891-1976 [IU Northwest]

    Theses and dissertations have been collected in print and microform formats for decades, and more recently, databases provide access. Most dissertations in the print collection were written from the late 1960s to the late 1970s. There have been few published since (there was a slight resurgence in the 1990s). IU theses and dissertations can be browsed in a special section of the 6th floor of the Wells Library. The majority of non-IU theses and dissertations are also on microfilm. All can be found using IUCAT.

    17 from Indiana University (1961-2008), for example:
  • Barbu, Jallah Allen. (2008). Roots of Excessive Executive Power in Liberia: An Analysis of Liberia's Pre-Republic Era (1817-1847).
  • Marshall, Rachel. (1994). An Exploration of Literacy, Learning and Instruction in Seventh Grades in Selected Schools in Liberia Under Conditions of Civil Strife.
  • Stone, Ruth M. (1979). Communication and interaction processes in music events among the Kpelle of Liberia.

    33 from other universities (1944-2004), for example:
  • Monts, Lester Parker. (1980). Music in Vai Society: An Ethnomusicological Study of a Liberian Ethnic Group.
  • Sawyer, Amos. (1973). Social Stratification and Orientations to National Development in Liberia.

    The Archives of Traditional Music (ATM) holds several audio collections. They range from audio cassettes to tape reels to cylinders. Beyond these collections, there are dozens of other Liberian musical recordings, interviews, and audio resources cataloged in the ATM. Further, many of these recordings are accompanied by notes and documentation about the performers and associated topics. Search IUCAT to find more extensive information.
    Field research recordings [number of recordings deposited]:
  • George Herzog [236]
  • Svend Holsoe [170]
  • Ruth Stone and Verlon Stone [96]
  • Jo Mary Sullivan [58]
  • Judith S. Gay [30]
  • Packard L. Okie [24]
  • Laura Bolton [21]
  • William Siegmann [18]
  • Tom W. Schick [18]

    Videos are located in the Media and Reserves Services department in the Wells Library, including the Instructional Support Services (ISS) collection. Most of the videos are documentaries from the 1990s and 2000s, and most concern issues of conflict and conflict resolution. Searching IUCAT in DVD/Video search mode will provide the full list.

    13 in Wells Library, including:
  • (1980). The Cows of Dolo Ken Paye: Resolving Conflict Among the Kpelle.
  • (1991). The Liberia Tragedy: The Nightmare, the Challenge, the Response.
  • (2007). Iron Ladies of Liberia.

    3 in the ISS collection:
  • Dolo Ken Paye’s People go to the movies.
  • (1994). Political Organization (Revised) (Episode 18). Faces of Culture Series.
  • (1983). Social Control (Episode 19). Faces of Culture Series.

    Numerous visual resources exist to complement research on Liberia. Most photographic material is housed in the Fine Arts Library, although there is some at the LCP. There are also a number of artifacts from Liberia at the IU Art Museum and in the LCP. You will have to contact these libraries to view the collections.
  • DIDO (Digital Images Delivered Online) (images held in the Fine Arts Visual Resource Center)
  • Fine Arts Library Photo Archives
  • IU Art Museum
  • Mathers Museum of World Cultures

    Maps available through the IU Libraries cover a range, from regional West African maps to detailed geological maps of Liberia. Many are cataloged, and some are online. The Geography/Map and Geosciences libraries have the majority. Both information on the print versions and links to online versions are available through IUCAT.
    35 cataloged maps and atlases, including:
  • (2004). Liberia [planimetric ed.]. U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.
  • (1983). Liberia 1:50,000. Liberian Cartographic Service.
  • (1973). Geographic map of the Buchanan quadrangle, Liberia. Geological Survey (U.S.)
  • (1972). Liberia in maps. Stefan von Gnielinski.

    Digital content related to Liberia is small, but growing. The IU Libraries subscribe to many databases, some of which have valuable Liberia-related content. The following databases contain the majority of what is currently available, but there are more which are accessible to IU-affiliated researchers through the Libraries’ website.
    Examples include:
  • Aluka
  • ARTstor
  • Proquest Dissertations and Theses
  • Europa World Plus (contains Africa South of the Sahara)
  • World Bank eLibrary

    Liberian periodicals in the IU collections range from active current subscriptions to titles received only once. The scope is considerable, from government periodicals to newspapers and academic publications. Some are available online, but the majority is only in print or microform. All of the cataloged titles can be viewed in IUCAT.

    Here are examples of the 165 cataloged titles available:

    Academic periodicals:
  • Liberian Studies (1967-1972)
  • Liberian Studies Journal (1968-present)
  • University of Liberia Journal (1983, 1986)

    Non-academic periodicals:
  • Liberia Forum (1985-1989)
  • Liberia: a political, economic, and social monthly. (1973-76, 1987)

  • Liberian Age (1973-1974) [microfilm]
  • Liberian Recorder (1902-1906) [World Newspaper Archive]
  • Liberian Star (1973-1974) [microfilm]
  • Listener Daily (1955-1963) [microfilm]
  • Observer (1878-1883) [World Newspaper Archive]
  • Sun Times (1985-1986)

    Occasionally, the African Studies collection receives unsolicited serials. All of our sample issues of Liberian serials are from the late 1980s and early 1990s. They are located in the African Studies collection on the 6th floor of the Wells Library. The titles can be viewed in the online Sample Serials Index. Exaples include:
  • The Eye (Monrovia) Vol. 4, no. 83 (Dec 16, 1994).
  • Human Rights Review (Monrovia) Vol. 1, no. 4 (1993).
  • Inside News (Monrovia) Vol. 4, nos. 44-45 (1993).
  • Liberia Development Monitor (Paynesville) Vol. 1, no. 3 (June 1989), Vol. 2, no. 1 (May 1989).

    PAMPHLETS (uncataloged):
    Uncataloged materials have been collected from scholars throughout the past several decades. We have numerous pamphlets ranging from the 1950s to the present on varied topics. They are located in the African Studies Collection Office and can be searched using the African Pamphlet Collection Index.
    186 Liberia-related pamphlets in total:
  • 57 booklets and reports
  • 57 conference papers
  • 43 language pamphlets
  • 29 periodicals

    Liberian posters are located in the African Studies Collection office, on the 6th floor of the Wells Library. These posters are primarily from the 1980s. Click here to browse the online Liberian Poster Index. Examples include:
  • Citizens Peace Mission Appeals to Combatants. Monrovia: Citizens Peace Mission, 1994.
  • Liberia: Development Projects. Monrovia: Ganta-Harper Highway Fund-Raising Committee, 1985. 

    Please see the Indiana University Liberian Collections website for an overview of its contents. This vast collection contains rare and unique materials on Liberia, much of it not cataloged or preserved anywhere else. Collections contain magazines, journals, newspapers, correspondence, cultural and ethnographic documents, artifacts, and more. Collections include:
  • William Tubman papers (microfilmed) and photographs (digitization underway)
  • Svend Holsoe Collection
  • Warren L. d’Azevedo Collection
  • George Herzog Materials (located in the Archives of Traditional Music)
  • Donated materials from Ruth and Verlon Stone, Jane Martin, William Siegmann, Jeanette Carter, and John and Judy Gay
  • last updated: 6/26/2012