Benjamin W. Austin Liberian Autograph Collection, 1862 - 1889

About the Project

Glimpse into the history of Liberia through correspondence, signatures and clippings collected by Benjamin W. Austin. Discover Who’s Who of late nineteenth- century government officials of this country founded as a colony by the American Colonization Society. Controversial from the beginning, the society advocated the removal of free people of color to Africa as opposed to emancipation in the United States.

Also contentious was the misleading approach Benjamin W. Austin employed to collect thousands of autographs, including those from Liberian officials. According to Professor André De Tienne of the Institute of American Thought, Austin assembled his collection by deceptive methods, for instance “making them [people] believe that they were being honored with a membership in non-existent scholarly societies, such as the Northwestern Literary and Historical Society, or the Trinity Historical Society in Texas.” Transcribe this collection to see who responded to Mr. Austin’s request.

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