A Liberian Journey is a website meant to inform, raise questions, and elicit stories about a transformational moment in Liberia’s past. 

In 1926, the Liberian government granted Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. a ninety-nine year lease on up to one million acres of land Firestone wanted  to establish a large rubber plantation. To help the company understand the conditions and challenges it faced, Firestone sponsored a Harvard team of scientists and physicians to conduct a four-month-long biological and medical survey of Liberia’s interior.  Loring Whitman, a Harvard medical student, served as the expedition's official photographer.

The motion picture record Whitman gathered is the earliest known surviving motion picture footage of Liberia.  The moving images, along with hundreds of still photographs taken on the expedition, give a view of Liberia shaped by the white privilege and racial attitudes of American scientists. At the same time, the footage and photographs offer glimpses of the peoples, cultures, and landscapes of Monrovia and Liberia’s hinterland at a time of rapid economic, cultural, and environmental change. 

The images in this collection do not speak for themselves.  We invite you, the viewers of these images, to explore and share your own meaningful stories, photographs, or documents about Liberia’s past sparked by the images, documents, and stories found on this website.  Also, we encourage educators to work with students to create virtual exhibits to give voice, meaning, and historical context to the images this website presents.

A Liberian Journey is a collaborative project undertaken by the Center for National Documents and Records Agency in Liberia, the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, Indiana University Liberian Collections, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison through a generous grant from the National Science Foundation.



Center for National Documents and Records Agency

  • Philomena Bloh Sayeh, Content Team Co-Lead

Indiana University Liberian Collections

  • Verlon Stone, Director, and Collections Team Lead
  • Meredith Moon, Metadata Specialist
  • Ardea Smith, Metadata Specialist

Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, George Mason University

  • Sheila A. Brennan, Digital Team Lead
  • Ken Albers, Web Designer and Developer

University of Wisconsin, Madison

  • Gregg Mitman, Content Team Co-Lead
  • Emmanuel Urey, Content Specialist and Oral Historian

Univeristy of New Mexico

  • Fred Gibbs, Content Advisor