International Research Network on Sierra Leone

In collaboration with Albert Moore, Government Archivist, Suzanne Schwarz and Paul Lovejoy have been awarded a two-year grant under the Endangered Archives Programme of the British Library to digitize key documents in the Sierra Leone Public Archives. As we are all aware the rich documentation in Sierra Leone is in need of protection and preservation. Digitizing is only one stage in that process of guaranteeing the national heritage of Sierra Leone.

We have decided to establish an association of those scholars interested in the history of Sierra Leone as a means to facilitate communication and interaction. We would also hope that those who choose to be associated will share information on what materials have been copied and where copies are located. We want to avoid duplication and unnecessary handling of documents. Indeed we want to remove key documents from search because the materials can be accessed digitally. 

Moreover, we believe that the Sierra Leone Public Archives also needs the support of an independent association that can help to secure the future of the archives. What is required is a building and a sufficient budget to operate a modern archive. As an advocacy association, therefore, we would hopefully support the current efforts in Sierra Leone to secure such infrastructure support. 

We propose a listserv and perhaps a blog, and some long term planning in terms of conferences and collaborations. Already key archival materials are posted on the Harriet Tubman website under SHADD, specifically the materials collected by Bruce Mouser. We plan to post more such documentation to enhance accessibility. Our intention is also to assist the Sierra Leone Public Archives with the development of its own website. Both the Tubman Institute at York University and the University of Worcester are coordinating and supporting this project. 

Also, please be advised, that we are planning a workshop in Sierra Leone during 2012 for purposes of allowing a forum for the most recent research on Sierra Leone and its complex, global history.

We encourage participation, and please feel more than welcome to relay this invitation to others who are interested in the history of Sierra Leone.

Sincerely,

Paul Lovejoy.