Exhibitions

The experience of African-Americans has certainly entailed a longing for their lost homelands. As a spiritual ballad of North American slaves and Rastafarians in Jamaica proclaimed, drawing on Psalm 137: By the rivers of Babylon, where we sat down, and there we wept when we remembered Zion. The wicked carried us away in captivity and required from us a song, but how can we sing King Alpha’s song in a strange land? In 1821, the U.S. government created a colony on the Ivory Coast of Africa to which they could repatriate freed slaves. “Liberia,” whose capital Monrovia was named for then President James Monroe, became a free republic in 1847. The early history of Liberia can be traced through a series of maps from nineteenth-century school geographies and atlases. In 1821, neither Liberia or Monrovia are located [42], but both colony and city appear on a map printed in 1822 [43]. In 1838, seventeen years after Liberia’s founding, geographers were still uncertain as to its specific political boundaries [44]; in 1847, an inset showed more details of the “American Colony” of Liberia [45]; when the same map was reprinted ten years later, the colony was labeled a republic” and a textual commentary was added [46]. By 1865, forty-four years after its creation, geographers represented Liberia as a fully realized state with complete political boundaries [47]. What these maps do not show is the degree to which Liberia captured the imagination of African-Americans. Liberia became central to African-American political thought only in the 1920s with the “African Zionism” espoused by Marcus Garvey. At that time, Liberia became an genuine homeland for African-Americans, a place for them to long for and migrate to.

Africa

Africa
Copper engraving, hand-colored, 18.8 x21.7cm
From Clark's New School Maps (London: J. Souter, 1821)
Roos Collection

12954.0001
Africa

Sidney E. Morse (American, 1794-1871)
Africa
A copper engraving, hand-colored, 19.7 x 24.5cm
From Ancient Atlas Adapted to Morse's New School Geography
(Boston: Richardson & Lord, 1822)
Osher Collection

7491.0001
Africa

W. Gardner Evans (American, fl. 1830-1850)
Africa
Copper engraving transferred to lithograph, 28.0 x 21.9cm
(New York: F. J. Huntington, 1838)
Roos Collection

12956.0001
Map of Africa

S. Augustus Mitchell (American, 1792-1868)
Map of Africa
A copper engraving transferred to lithograph,
hand-colored, 20.7 x 26.9cm
From Mitchell's School Atlas: Second Revised Edition
(Philadelphia: H. Cowperthwait & Co., 1847)
Osher Collection

7637.0001
Map of Africa

S. Augustus Mitchell (American, 1792-1868)
Map of Africa
A copper engraving transferred to lithograph,
hand-colored, 20.7 x 26.9cm
From Mitchell's School Atlas: Fourth Revised Edition
(Philadelphia: H. Cowperthwait & Co., 1857)
Osher Collection

7720.0001
Johnson's Africa

A. J. Johnson (American, 1827-1884)
Johnson's Africa
Copper engraving transferred to lithograph,
hand-colored, 56.1 x 40.6cm
From Johnson's New Illustrated Family Atlas
(New York: Johnson and Ward, 1866)
OML Collections

7774.0001