Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
David A. Day Scrapbook, ca. 1897

Finding aid created by
Rob S. Cox, March 1998

Summary Information
Title: David A. Day scrapbook
Creator: Day, David Alexander, 1851-1897
Inclusive dates: ca. 1897
Extent: 89 pages and 34 photographs
The David A. Day scrapbook was assembled shortly after Rev. Day's death in 1897 to commemorate one of the most renowned American missionaries in West Africa. It includes photographs and illustrations of the mission and its missionaries, accompanied by captions providing background on the activities of the mission, the way of life of its inhabitants, and biographical notes on some converts. Laid into the front cover is a seven-page typed memoir of Day's life.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1998. F-467.3.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Alternate Format:

Due to the highly brittle paper and exceptionally delicate nature of the scrapbook, researchers are requested to use a photocopy of the original. The original may be consulted only with permission of the curatorial staff.

Preferred Citation:

David A. Day Scrapbook, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Thrust early into the toils and hardships of life, David Alexander Day found his life, love, and calling as a missionary in Liberia. Born out of wedlock in Dillsburg, Pa., Day suffered a childhood of unrelenting poverty and hardship, and in his premature rush to adult responsibilities, he had few opportunities for formal education. The harsh realities of life led him into the labor market at age 12, when he hired on as a chore boy in the government stables at Harrisburg, and two years later, though still only 14, he enlisted as a private in Co. D, 78th Pennsylvania Infantry.

As if to exemplify the optimism that marked his missionary zeal, Day's prospects brightened steadily after his discharge from the military. Returning home, he experienced conversion at a revival meeting in 1867, and thereafter devoted himself to the improvement of his education and moral being. After teaching for a winter in a rural school, his natural aptitude for learning earned him admission to Susquehanna University during the fall of 1869, where he studied in both the classical and theological departments. A favorite with his fellow students and teachers, Day graduated in May, 1874, and shortly after his ordination in the Lutheran ministry, was sent to the Muhlenburg mission in Monrovia, Liberia. During the last 23 years of his brief life, Day seldom left the mission. Muhlenburg was operated as an "industrial" mission, teaching farming, carpentry, and blacksmithing along with the teachings of Christianity, and the profits it generated from the production of coffee, palm oil, ivory, and other natural products were turned back into expanding its missionary activity. By most assessments, Muhlenburg was among the most highly successful of all West African missions at winning converts.

Unlike his missionary life, Day's personal life was punctuated by frequent tragedies. Before his departure for Africa for the first time, he married Emily V. Winegarden of Selinsgrove, a match of similar souls, but ill-starred, nevertheless. Each of the couple's three children was born in Africa, and each died there at an early age: two as infants, and the third at age nine. Yet neither these tragedies, nor offers of ministerial and governmental positions at home dissuaded the Days from their mission, nor did Emily's death in 1895 dissuade David. In the following year, he remarried to the Canadian-born missionary, Anna E. Whitfield, but this marriage held true to the pattern of his first, with a small twist. Having contracted a virulent fever, Day agreed to return home to recuperate. One day before landing in New York, on December 17, 1897, he died.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The David A. Day scrapbook was assembled shortly after Rev. Day's death in 1897 to commemorate one of the most renowned American missionaries in West Africa. The thirty-four silver print photographs are supplemented by half-tone illustrations of the mission and its missionaries (excised from an unidentified publication), and are accompanied by hand-written and typed captions providing background on the activities of the mission, the way of life of its inhabitants, and biographical notes on some converts. Laid into the front cover is a seven-page typed memoir of Day's life. Based upon writing inside the front cover, the scrapbook appears to have been assembled at or for the mission within a few years after Day's death.

Although the creator of the scrapbook is unidentified, the book remains a valuable record of the Lutheran missionary enterprise in Liberia and missionary responses to the inhabitants of that country. The series of images and captions seem equally concerned with religious "progress" (Christianization) and the material improvement of native lives as gauged by their adoption of western dress, methods of production, and attitudes toward work. Singled out for special note are a seven year old girl from "one of the tribes 100 miles north of the mission" who took pride in her dress and ability to use a broom, and a particularly devoted convert, Henry Stewart, and the author of the scrapbook included several views of particularly well-dressed groups of converts assembled and posed in orderly fashion. Along with views of the tidy mission complex itself, there is a secondary emphasis on the unconverted, with illustrations of their method of travel (by hammock), "half-civilized" natives at a saw mill, and semi-nude men standing by the river, awaiting a canoe. The typed captions offer a somewhat more extended, but still relatively brief commentary on native (Grebo) life and their lack of western attitudes and advantages.

Subject Terms

    • Day, Anna E.
    • Day, Emma V. Winegarden, d. 1895.
    • Lutheran Church--Missions--Africa.
    • Missionaries--Africa.
    Subjects - Visual Materials:
    • Children--Africa--Photographs.
    • Converts--Africa--Photographs.
    • Girls--Africa--Photographs.
    • Grebo (African people)--Photographs.
    • Liberia--Photographs.
    • Missionaries--Africa--Photographs.
    • Missions--Africa--Photographs.
    • Muhlenburg Mission (Monrovia, Liberia)--Photographs.
    Genre Terms:
    • Photographs.
    • Scrapbooks.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Volume   A.1.24 (Graphics Division)  
    David A. Day scrapbook,  ca. 1897 [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Partial Subject Index
    African Americans--Africa--Photographs
    • 7
    • 23
    • 7
    • 31
    • 6, 7, 9, 16, 18, 20, 21, 22, 25, 27
    • passim, but see esp. 8, 11, 24, 29
    Day, Anna E.
    • 2
    Day, David Alexander, 1851-1897
    • 3
    Day, Emma V. Winegarden, d. 1895
    • 2, 23
    • 6, 7, 11, 12, 19, 20
    Grebo (African people)--Photographs
    • passim
    • passim
    Lutheran Church--Missions--Africa
    • passim
    Millsburg (Liberia)--Photographs
    • 14
    • passim
    • 2, 3, 21, 24
    • passim
    Mother and child--Africa--Photographs
    • 15
    Muhlenburg Mission (Monrovia, Liberia)--Photographs
    • passim but see esp. 17, 18, 28, 32, 33-36
    Sharp, Mrs.
    • 7
    Stewart, Henry
    • 8