Welcome to the Coppelia Hays Liberian Collection, the online home of a remarkable collection of Liberian objects and manuscripts donated to the Western Kentucky University Department of Anthropology and Folk Studies in 2011. This digital catalogue is the product of a collaborative effort between students and faculty members in the Department of Folk Studies, under the direction of Dr. Michael Ann Williams, and has been several years in the making. In 2012, students in Dr. Williams' Museum Practices & Procedures graduate seminar appraised and catalogued the entirety of the Coppelia Hays Liberian Collection into PastPerfect museum management software. In 2014-2015, Graduate Assistant Jess Lamar Reece Holler built upon the 2012 Museum class's cataloging work, and made the collection digitally available via Omeka, using TEI meta-data exported through PastPerfect.

Check back frequently to view our progress as we build our digital catalogue and exhibitions! And, if you'd like to talk with us about these Liberian objects or the wider history and living traditions of object production in Liberia, we'd be glad to chat!

This Omeka site is a digital home for the catalogue of the Coppelia Hays Liberian Collection. Slowly but surely, we are uploading all of the objects and manuscripts that make up the Hays collection, and tagging these objects with their relevant Dublin Core metadata, basic tags, and relevant images. We hope that making a digital version of the Hays collection catalogue will enable these objects a wider circulation in the world, and will engender conversations about their historic and contemporary use and provenance. We encourage anyone who would like to talk about these objects, the processes and traditions of workmanship that produced their, and their social and cultural uses, to get in touch with us through our contact page. This project will also eventually include interactive, student-curated digital exhibitions, drawn from the objects in this collection, and with an eye to social and historical context.

We hope this collection will be of use to scholars, including historians, anthropologists, folklorists and material culture scholars, as well as a wider interested public. Feel free to browse the collection and use our "tags" to assemble lists of related objects. Pardon our dust while the site grows!

The Coppelia Hays Liberian Collection, containing upwards of 200 unique objects and manuscripts, was donated to Western Kentucky University in 2011 by Coppelia Hays. The collection represents the substantial holdings of her father, who served as an educational ambassador in Liberia in the 1950s, under the United States Agency for International Development. The collection is now housed in the Department of Anthropology at Western Kentucky University, and is held by the Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology. Collection appraisal was conducted by Dr. Michael Ann Williams and Dr. JAK Njoku, in consultation with graduate students in the Western Kentucky University Folk Studies Master's Program. Objects from the collection were featured in a student-curated exhibit, "Daniel Hays: An American Educator in Liberia," on permanent display at the Kentucky Museum in Bowling Green. Our holdings are especially strong in objects for everyday use from Liberia. The collection features objects ranging from household objects, musical instruments, statues and masks, games, sacred objects, and stools and chairs. The Western Kentucky University Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology is actively seeking donations of other everyday and household items from Liberia, as well as examples of Liberian art.

For more information about the collection, see:

If you are seeking a repository for your own Liberian objects and artifacts, please visit the Friends of Liberia website:

We'd love to hear from you!

Dr. Michael Ann Williams
Project Lead
Professor and Chair, Dept. of Folk Studies and Anthropology
Western Kentucky University

Jess Lamar Reece Holler
Hays Liberian Collection Digitization Graduate Assistant
haysliberiancollection [at] gmail [dot] com

Recently Added Items


his is a black and white (possibly from 1961) photograph of Dr. Daniel Hays holding a large snake with 5 Liberian people in the photograph. This is…

Fan, Hand

This seems to be a fan or strainer of some sort. It has a netted area held by a bent round stick and a stick handle.

Mask, Ritual


This mask is wood with white carved parts on the forehead and feathers attached to back and side. The face is black. There is fabric and netting on…

Mask, Ritual


This is a mask with bull-like horns. The face is black with white eyes and mouth and fibers on the chin. There is a large red sheet of material…



This is a bracelet made from, what seems to look like turtle or crocodile underbelly. It attaches with braided fiber hook and ball.