You’re not a lawyer or senator, so why should you care about a bunch of acts passed by the Liberian Legislature between 1857 and 1940?

You’ll be surprise. The acts name some couples who were granted divorces and criminals who had their citizenship restored. They also mention churches, community associations and cemeteries, all incorporated by the legislature.

In addition, earlier acts provide the names and salaries of all government employees, a degree of transparency not shown in later years.

In publishing this database, my goal is to disseminate information as widely as possible using the Internet. In my view, public access to government records is a crucial requirement for the maintenance of “government by the people.”

The installation of a democratically elected government in 2006 has provided Liberia an opportunity to recover and rebuild from decades of war. But, elections are just a start. Long-term economic growth and political stability require the cultivation of democratic values. Those values include respect for the rule of law, transparency in government and accountability of public officials to the electorate.

We also begin with the legislature to draw attention to the workings of an often overlooked branch of government. Although Liberian lawmakers since World War Two have largely operated in the shadows of the executive branch, several of the acts indexed here show clearly that Liberian presidents didn’t always dominate the other branches of government.

I hope to add a variety of other government records, including copies of government budgets. I invite you to contribute records in your possession or to suggest others for publication. Together, we can build a culture of greater openness and transparency.