On March 17, U.S. Ambassador to Liberia, Michael McCarthy, handed over 20 historic photos to the National Museum in Monrovia.
The photographs were taken by Charles Allmon, one of the early photo editors of National Geographic, who also worked as a supervisor for the Firestone Plantation in the 1940s, and were given as a donation to the museum by Dr. John C. Yoder, a political scientist and historian at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington, USA.
According to the embassy release, the Liberian Government, Firestone, and the United States Armed Forces collaborated during the 1940s to improve aspects of Liberia’s infrastructure to increase rubber production from Liberia, support Allied forces during World War II, and attract outside investments in mining and forestry.
This effort, the statement added, was consistent with President Tubman’s Open-Door Policy, Firestone’s business interests, and American strategic concerns in filling demand for rubber necessitated by the war.
Presenting the photographs, Ambassador McCarthy said both the United States and Liberia have rich pasts, including diverse communities, cultures, and traditions, many of which reach back thousands of years before the founding of our modern nations.
“Importantly, this donation would not have been possible without the help of Dr. John C. Yoder. Dr. Yoder, in 2019, taught and lectured at Cuttington University’s Joseph S. Gaunnu Institute of Peace and Conflict Resolution in Liberia as a Fulbright Specialist — a scholar exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. It was Dr. Yoder who met Charles Allmon and received his photographic collection in 2010. The original photographs are housed at the University of Indiana as part of its extensive collection of Liberian materials,” Ambassador McCarthy said.
He emphasized the importance of national museums which are natural centerpieces of the country’s tourism strategy and can be strong draws for domestic and international tourists.
According to Ambassador McCarthy, “the United States hopes to continue supporting Liberian efforts to preserve your national history and culture, working in partnership with the government and other stakeholders. The Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Presentation, a merit-based grant competition administered by the State Department, is our primary vehicle for such activity. We currently have a project focused on preserving and protecting Providence Island.”
Representing the government of Liberia at the donation ceremony were Minister of Information Ledgerhood Rennie, Assistant Minister for Culture Margret Cooper-Frank, Acting Director of the National Museum Kollie Kennedy, Deputy Minister for Technical Services Boakai Fofana and the Assistant Minister for Administration Jurah Sanoe. In addition, Don Darden, the General Manager of Firestone Liberia, and Richard Falla both attended, representing the important historic connection between Harbel, Firestone, and Liberia.