Website shines new light on African-American ties to Liberia
Washington, DC - April 23, 2010 - The stories of 15,000+ African-Americans who emigrated to Liberia between 1820 and 1904 are now only a mouseclick away, thanks to a just launched website.
Liberianrepatriates.com should prove a boon to scholars and genealogists on both sides of the Atlantic, according to its founder, Prof. C. Patrick Burrowes of Pennsylvania State University at Harrisburg.
The database lists many individuals who were born in the 1700s - a rare find in black genealogy, Burrowes said. "Even The New York Times - with all its resources and investigative prowess - could only trace the genealogy of First Lady Michelle Obama back to the early 1800s."
The website also provides answers to other questions: When were they born? Where were they from? When did they leave? Where did they go? What were their family connections?
Burrowes said those blacks who left the United States in the nineteenth century have long been stereotyped as ex-slaves dumped in Africa against their will. "That image will be difficult to sustain," he noted, "in the face of data showing their motives and shere diversity."
While most emigrants were from the Upper South, he said, some left places like Chicago, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, where they were not enslaved.
"In their number were scores of accomplished individuals who were committed to black emancipation, including A. M. E. Church founder Daniel Coker, newspaper pioneer John B. Russwurm, Classical music composer Newport Gardiner and celebrated poet George Moses Horton."
Although access to Liberianrepatriates.com is free of charge, first-time users are required to submit an email address to register.
Journalist and scholar C. Patrick Burrowes is the author of Power and Press Freedom in Liberia (Trenton, N. J.: African World Press, 2004) and co-author, The Historical Dictionary of Liberia (Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2001). His commentaries, articles and other writings have appeared in a variety of media, including The New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Milwaukee Journal, as well as Crisis, Essence and Emerge magazines.