The Witalis Collection of Liberian Objects overview photo

The Witalis Collection of Liberian Objects

  • Type:Temporary
  • Gallery:Whitten Featured Object Case

(date) 1/12/2016–5/8/2016

For over 50 years, the United States Peace Corps has sent volunteers around the globe to assist in local communities. The Spurlock Museum was pleased to accept this collection that documents the experiences of a Peace Corps volunteer in Liberia, West Africa, in the 1980s. Over 4,000 volunteers have served in that country since 1962.

Shirley Witalis served in the Peace Corps from 1982 to 1984. During that time, she worked with and lived among Kpelle-speaking people in Liberia. Ms. Witalis was involved in introducing fish farming, including fish pond construction, to local rice farmers. Her main location was the city of Gbarnga, with visits to other villages in the area.

Objects in this collection both reflect the life of local Liberians prior to their civil war and were used by Ms. Witalis during her time there. Rice production was and continues to be a primary income source in Liberia. Locally grown rice was winnowed using trays, then milled and packaged for shipment.