This week we’ve uncovered two manuscript diaries written between 1838 and 1861. The diaries belonged to Walter Peter Jayne (1810-1894). Jayne was a New York City printer and missionary hired to set up a print shop in Monrovia, Liberia for the Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

U.S. Methodists had been in Liberia as early as the 1820s with the first sanctioned missionary, Melville B. Cox, arriving in 1833. The next year an annual conference was organized and the Liberia Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church was formally authorized by general conference in 1836.

Walter Jayne married Eleanor Ferguson in 1832 and left his family in December 1838 to sail to Monrovia. He arrived in January of 1839 and set up a printing shop. The shop published local materials and a missionary newspaper titled the Africa’s Luminary. This newspaper is available for viewing at the United Methodist Archives Center on the campus of Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.

The diaries include topical discussions on African culture, indigenous religious beliefs, topography and the daily life of mission work in Liberia. Jayne returned to the U.S. in 1841 and continued his work as a printer in New York City until his death in 1894.

Drew University also houses the manuscript journal of S.M.E. Goheen, missionary doctor to Liberia and co-editor of the Africa’s Luminary. The journal includes the years 1837-38. For more information on the materials of Jayne or Goheen please contact me at