In 1791, a new British organization called the Sierra Leone Company wanted both to provide free blacks with land in Africa and to establish a profitable trade in African goods. The American Revolution had allowed some slaves to free themselves and be protected by the British. Lt. John Clarkson, a representative of the Sierra Leone Company, brought 1,100 of these free slaves from Nova Scotia to Sierra Leone in 1792. Together, they founded Freetown, and were soon joined by some Maroons from Jamaica in 1800. The colony was not a financial success, and the Sierra Leone Company transferred it to the British Government in 1808. The British government had outlawed the slave trade in 1807, and they used Sierra Leone as a naval outpost for antislavery patrols. Liberated slaves continued to come to Sierra Leone, numbering over 50,000 by 1864. Many of the freed people and their descendants became a vital part of the region's economy, religion, and civic life.
The collection consists of items related to the British administration of Sierra Leone, including public and private papers of British officials in the colony of Sierra Leone, 1792-1825.