Guide to the George Way Harley Papers, 1911-1975
The papers of George Way Harley span the years 1911 to 1975 though the bulk of them are from 1925 to 1960. The papers relate principally to the life and work of George W. and Winifred J. Harley at the mission they founded and supervised at Ganta, Liberia and include diaries and journals, correspondence, writings and notes, miscellaneous personal and subject files, account books, notebooks, scrapbooks, albums, photographs, printed materials, clippings, diplomas, certificates, memorabilia, and other papers.
Shortly after George W. Harley graduated from Trinity College (later Duke University) in 1916, he went to Yale to attend medical school, where he met his future wife, Winifred Frances Jewell. Responding to calls to mission work heard at the First Methodist Church in New Haven, and after receiving his M.D. in 1923, Harley and his wife left the U.S. under the auspices of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Methodist Episcopal Church. After a short time studying in London, they were sent to Ganta, in the Liberian interior, where they established a medical mission and industrial school.
During the next 35 years spent at Ganta Mission, Dr. Harley built a medical dispensary, hospital, church, school, several residences and shops, as well as a leper village and two “sick villages.” In addition to his medical work, Dr. Harley was also very involved and interested in the industrial training and teaching of the local Liberian people, as well as local anthropology, art, native medicine, mapping, meteorology, and other scientific interests. On his death in 1966, Liberia declared a national day of mourning and President William V.S. Tubman issued a proclamation praising the long service of Dr. Harley on behalf of Liberia and its people.
The correspondence of George W. and Winifred J. Harley forms the largest portion of these papers. Included are many letters to members of their respective families (letters from family members being notably absent) detailing the daily life and struggles of mission work as well as more official correspondence with the Board of Foreign Missions of the Methodist Episcopal Church and scholarly correspondence relating to Dr. Harley's scientific work, particularly his relationship with the Peabody Museum of Harvard University in conducting anthropological field work and collecting botanical and entomological specimens. Also included in the correspondence are letters reflecting in a general way on the impact of World War II in Liberia and the operations of the plantations of the Firestone Rubber Company.
The writings found in these papers consist of holograph and typewritten drafts and notes on a variety of subjects. Included are articles of both popular and scholarly interest focusing, not surprisingly, on various aspects of Harley's experience and work at the mission and in Liberia. Of particular note are a copy of Harley's 1938 Ph.D. dissertation, Native African Medicine and two drafts of Mrs. Harley's memoirs of her life with George Harley.
The Miscellany files in these papers consist of notes, minutes, printed and near-print material, and other papers relating to a particular subject, such as Dr. Harley's participation in the work of the Advisory Council on Health of the Republic of Liberia or his work with the Foreign Economic Administration. Also included are Dr. Harley's notes in his research on trypanosomiasis ( “sleeping sickness” ), biographical and personal files on Dr. and Mrs. Harley, rainfall statistics, notes on the Mano language, and miscellaneous notes and papers relating to the Liberian timber and mining industries.
Rounding out the papers are a series of account books and notebooks, relating primarily to personal and mission finances; clippings and printed matter relating to the Harleys in particular and to Liberia in general; scrapbooks and photo albums, the latter focused principally on the Harley's post-retirement years; and a series of certificates, awards, and diplomas.
Correspondents of note include Thomas Smith Donohugh, E. A. Hooton, George Schwab, and William V. S. Tubman.
- Collection Number
- George Way Harley papers
- Harley, George W. (George Way), 1894-1966
- 5 Linear Feet, 2,500 Items
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Access to the Collection
Collection is open for research.
Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.
All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.
Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.
Use & Permissions
The copyright interests in the papers of George W. and Winifred J. Harley are reserved to their heirs under the provisions of U.S. copyright law (Title 17, U.S.C.). For further information, see the section on copyright in the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
How to Cite
[Identification of item], The Papers of George Way Harley, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
Except for a rather full journal of the Harleys' early years at the Ganta Mission (1925-1927),most of the diaries are sporadic with usually brief entries. Some are little more than calendars. Arranged chronologically.
Letters, postcards telegrams, greeting cards, and mimeographed holiday “newsletters.” Includes many retained copies of letters sent. Correspondence relates to personal, family, and mission business. There is little correspondence for some of the years the Harleeys were on furlough. Arrange chronologically.
Includes handwritten and typescript drafts and notes for college papers, scholarly and popular articles, theses and dissertations, memoirs, and speeches. The topics include travel and description, medicine, anthropology, and mission work. Most of the writings are undated, though some were subsequently published. Reprints of some published works are included. Arranged alphabetically by title.
Principally subject files of miscellaneous papers relating to various activities or interests of Dr. or Mrs. Harley, including such things as minutes of the Advisory Council on Health, Republic of Liberia, miscellaneous notes on Liberian timber and gold mining, personal medical records, passports, and memorabilia, diplomas, etc. Arranged alphabetically by folder title.
Personal and mission financial accounts of a scattered nature. Volume for 1927-30 also contains gardening information and rainfall data, 1927-1932. Included in the notebooks are a medical notebook and some anthropological and mapping field notes. Account books arranged chronologically by first year of volume; notebooks in one folder.
Newspaper and magazine clippings relating to the Harleys and their work. Arranged chronologically.
Tear-sheets, pamphlets, articles, printed ephemera, etc. containing writings by, about, or mentioning G. W. Harley. Also includes general printed matter relating to African art, Liberia, and Ganta Mission. Organized into three broad categories; otherwise unarranged.
Scrapbooks of newspaper clippings, memorabilia, printed ephemera, letters, photographs, etc. Includes a scrapbook of sympathy cards, letters, obituaries, and memorial service programs on the death of G.W. Harley. Also, some loose photographs.
Certificates and Diplomas, 1911-1960.
|1894, Aug. 8||
Born, Asheville, N.C.
A.B., Trinity College, Durham, N.C.
Teacher, North Carolina high schools
M.D., Yale University
|1923, Aug. 4||
Married Winifred Frances Jewell
Superintendent, Harrington Hospital, Grenfell Mission, Labrador
Diploma, Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Founder and superintendent, Ganta Mission, Ganta, Liberia
Research Associate in Anthropology, Peabody Museum, Harvard University
Ph.D., Kennedy School of Missions, Hartford Seminary Foundation
Special consultant to Foreign Economic Administration in Liberia, U.S. Dept. of State
L.H.D., Duke University
Retired from Ganta Mission and returned to U.S.
|1966, Nov. 7||
Died, Lancaster, Va.
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- Donohugh, Thomas Smith, b. 1875
- Firestone Rubber Company
- Harley, George W. (George Way), 1894-1966
- Harley, George W. (George Way), 1894-1966
- Harley, Winifred Jewell, 1895-
- Hooton, Earnest Albert, 1887-1954
- Methodist Episcopal Church. Board of Foreign Missions
- Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology
- Schwab, George
- Tubman, William V. S., 1895-1971
- United States. Foreign Economic Administration
The papers of George Way Harley (1894-1966), missionary and physician, and his wife Winifred Jewell Harley were deposited in the Rubenstein Library by Mrs. Winifred J. Harley, 1973-1977; converted to a gift in September 1986.
Processed by: Steven L. Hensen
Completed June 26, 1987
Encoded by Stephen Douglas Miller