In the 1980s SC&A acquired a collection of various African objects, including clothing, figurines, currency, and souvenirs from several donors who collected objects d’art during their travels in Africa. Since most of our researchers are primarily interested in our paper record and rare book collections, there was little information available online about this collection and it sat largely unused for many years. That is until recently when we had a researcher in our reading room to view the materials donated by Frances and Richard Flach.

Frances Rawls Flach was the first woman faculty member in academic counseling at the University of Virginia (Mason was a part of UVA from 1957-1972) and in addition to this collection of objects, her lasting contribution to Mason was the development of what is today known as the Bachelor of Individualized Study (BIS) degree. The Flachs acquired many unique objects and art pieces while living in the region of Kakata in Liberia between the years 1936-1938, when Richard Flach was employed by Firestone.

The collection consists primarily of figurines, jewelry, domestic artifacts, currency, and musical instruments. Other pieces from this collection are housed at the Museum of African Art in Washington, DC.

This is a brass figurine of a Liberian soldier wearing a western style uniform. African Art Collection. Special Collections & Archives, George Mason University Libraries.
This is a Cameroon-style brass face mask. It was done in the traditional style but made for commercial purposes by a traditional artisan. African Art Collection. Special Collections & Archives, George Mason University Libraries.
This standing female figurine was identified as Fanta at the time it was purchased. It is quite unique with elaborate details such as attached hair realistically styled with a part in the middle, rolled up and secured in the back with a small chignon in the front. The figurine also has inset bits of glass for eyes, rounded metal teeth, metal earrings, and beads around the waist. The Flach's found no comparable figures in the reference books and surmised that this figure was made for ritualistic purposes. African Art Collection. Special Collections & Archives, George Mason University Libraries.

We are currently working on an online finding aid in order to increase awareness and use of this fascinating and unique collection.

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