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These photos show everyday life in Liberia 1957-1960

Neil Patrick

Liberia means “Land of the Free” in Latin. It is bordered by Sierra Leone to its west, Guinea to its north and Ivory Coast to its east. It covers an area of 111,369 square kilometers (43,000 sq mi) and is home to 4,503,000 people. English is the official language and over 20 indigenous languages are spoken. Forests on the coastline are composed mostly of salt-tolerant mangrove trees while the more sparsely populated inland has forests opening onto a plateau of drier grasslands.

The Republic of Liberia, formerly a colony of the American Colonization Society (ACS) declared its independence on July 26, 1847. The United States finally accepted and recognized Liberia’s Independence on February 5, 1862. Liberia was the first African nation to gain its independence, although it was not the only independent state in Africa at the time. Liberia was founded and established as a homeland for freed African-American and ex-Caribbean slaves who came from the Caribbean islands and the United States with the help and support from the American Colonization Society. Liberia is Africa’s oldest democratic republic and the second-oldest black republic in the world after Haiti.

 

Take a look:

 

Acting chief Mulba and 'fettered' mother-in-law. She is mentally deficient and this keeps her from going into forest. William Gotwald Liberia mission slides, 1957-1960. ELCA Archives scan. http://www.elca.org/archives

Acting chief Mulba and ‘fettered’ mother-in-law. She is mentally deficient and this keeps her from going into forest.
William Gotwald Liberia mission slides, 1957-1960.
ELCA Archives scan.

 

Firing shotgun to celebrate boys coming out of bush school, 1958. William Gotwald Liberia mission slides, 1957-1960. ELCA Archives scan. http://www.elca.org/archives

Firing shotgun to celebrate boys coming out of bush school, 1958.
William Gotwald Liberia mission slides, 1957-1960.
ELCA Archives scan.

 

Girls washing clothes in the river. William Gotwald Liberia mission slides, 1957-1960. ELCA Archives scan. http://www.elca.org/archives

Girls washing clothes in the river.
William Gotwald Liberia mission slides, 1957-1960.
ELCA Archives scan.

 

Liberian village. William Gotwald Liberia mission slides, 1957-1960. ELCA Archives scan. http://www.elca.org/archives

Liberian village.
William Gotwald Liberia mission slides, 1957-1960.
ELCA Archives scan.

 

New Wozi Bridge, built by townspeople, Wozi, Liberia. William Gotwald Liberia mission slides, 1957-1960. ELCA Archives scan. http://www.elca.org/archives

New Wozi Bridge, built by townspeople, Wozi, Liberia.
William Gotwald Liberia mission slides, 1957-1960.

 

Powdering rice on the farm, 1958. William Gotwald Liberia mission slides, 1957-1960. ELCA Archives scan. http://www.elca.org/archives

Powdering rice on the farm, 1958.
William Gotwald Liberia mission slides, 1957-1960.

 

Public truck taking on passengers at Salayea, Liberia, 1959. William Gotwald Liberia mission slides, 1957-1960. ELCA Archives scan. http://www.elca.org/archives

Public truck taking on passengers at Salayea, Liberia, 1959.
William Gotwald Liberia mission slides, 1957-1960.

 

Liberia is unique among African countries because it was the only African nation that was colonized and controlled by freed African-American and ex-Caribbean slaves as a free state and a homeland to live. Liberia and Ethiopia were the only two African countries during the 19th-century conquest of Africa that were not controlled or colonized by European powers. During the colonial era, Liberia was presumed a protectorate of the United States.

William and Ann Gotwald served as missionaries of the United Lutheran Church in America in Liberia from 1957-1960. We found this gem-collection that shows the everyday life in Liberia between 1957 and 1960 on the ELCA Archives.

Salayea town court house, Liberia, 1959. William Gotwald Liberia mission slides, 1957-1960. ELCA Archives scan. http://www.elca.org/archives

Salayea town court house, Liberia, 1959.
William Gotwald Liberia mission slides, 1957-1960.

 

The D.C. entering Wozi on the Wuomee trail, Wozi, Liberia. William Gotwald Liberia mission slides, 1957-1960. ELCA Archives scan. http://www.elca.org/archives

The D.C. entering Wozi on the Wuomee trail, Wozi, Liberia.
William Gotwald Liberia mission slides, 1957-1960.

 

The District Commissioner comes to Wozi. William Gotwald Liberia mission slides, 1957-1960. ELCA Archives scan. http://www.elca.org/archives

The District Commissioner comes to Wozi.
William Gotwald Liberia mission slides, 1957-1960.

 

Town elders of Wozi, Liberia. William Gotwald Liberia mission slides, 1957-1960. ELCA Archives scan. http://www.elca.org/archives

Town elders of Wozi, Liberia.
William Gotwald Liberia mission slides, 1957-1960.

 

Town elders waiting on Wozi road for arrival of district commissioner, Wozi, Liberia. William Gotwald Liberia mission slides, 1957-1960. ELCA Archives scan. http://www.elca.org/archives

Town elders waiting on Wozi road for arrival of district commissioner, Wozi, Liberia.
William Gotwald Liberia mission slides, 1957-1960.

 

Welcoming dance by Wozi town women for return of Margaret D. Miller. William Gotwald Liberia mission slides, 1957-1960. ELCA Archives scan. http://www.elca.org/archives

Welcoming dance by Wozi town women for return of Margaret D. Miller.
William Gotwald Liberia mission slides, 1957-1960.

 

Wozi town chief drumming at the end of bush school, Wozi, Liberia, 1958. William Gotwald Liberia mission slides, 1957-1960. ELCA Archives scan. http://www.elca.org/archives

Wozi town chief drumming at the end of bush school, Wozi, Liberia, 1958.
William Gotwald Liberia mission slides, 1957-1960.

My informant Yalawu and palm nuts at his farm near Wozi, 1958. William Gotwald Liberia mission slides, 1957-1960. ELCA Archives scan. http://www.elca.org/archives

My informant Yalawu and palm nuts at his farm near Wozi, 1958.
William Gotwald Liberia mission slides, 1957-1960.

All photos by ELCA Archives scan.
http://www.elca.org/archives