Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)CEZ
TitleRecords of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society
Extent588 files, 388 volumes, 997 items, 12 objects
DescriptionRecords of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society 1880-1968, a missionary organisation that focused specifically on supporting and promoting the welfare of women and girls overseas. Comprising minutes of the General Committee 1880-1968, Executive Committee 1898-1957, Candidates Committee 1882-1957, Finance Committee 1881-1957, Home Organisation Committee 1896-1957 and other committees and sub-committees; rolls and registers of missionaries 1880-1957; correspondence and administrative papers of the Society's Secretaries; financial records; legal records; photographs of missionaries and officers; publications and printed materials (including periodicals, newsletters, printed leaflets and booklets, mission reports and books written by missionaries). The complete sequences of the Society's official journal and Annual Reports 1880-1957 provide a particularly helpful overview of the Society's work at home and overseas. The collection also includes copies of some earlier papers and publications pre-dating the Society's split from its predecessor organisation, including early deeds and issues of 'The Indian Female Evangelist' published by the Indian Female Normal School and Instruction Society 1872-1880.

The archive has suffered badly from numerous changes of headquarters and also from severe flood damage during the Second World War. Correspondence with the missions overseas survives only from 1921. The loss can be partly compensated for by the use of printed reports, periodicals and other publications which made extensive use of information from original records including those that have not survived (although it should be noted that series of publications other than the Annual Reports and India's Women are largely incomplete).

Very few unpublished photographic records relating to the work of CEZMS missionaries are held in the collection. Researchers interested in visual records may wish to consult the Society’s illustrated magazines and printed sources held in the records of the Church Mission Society (CMS). In addition, there are original photographic records relating to CEZMS missionaries and the countries in which they were working in the privately deposited collections held as the Church Mission Society Unofficial Papers (CMS/ACC).

The collection not only illustrates developments in mission work with women overseas but also serves as a source of information on the evolution of local Church movements.
ArrangementThe collection forms part of the wider Church Mission Society Archive (see GB 0150 CMS). It is catalogued as a discrete collection arranged in five sections or sub-fonds. The first four correspond to the departments of the four Secretaries in charge in 1952 when the Society gave up its separate office and moved its headquarters and home to Cromwell House: the Clerical Secretary's Department (CEZ/G); the Foreign and Candidates Secretary's Department (CEZ/C); the Financial Secretary's Department (CEZ/F); the Home Organisation's Secretary's Department (CEZ/H). The fifth section comprises a small number of records relating to one of the local societies that supported the CEZMS (CEZ/SOC).
Access ConditionsIn accordance with Data Protection regulations, personal files and other records which include personal data are closed for the lifetime of the individual where known, or 100 years, including many of the missionaries blue packets (CEZ/C/AM 5); personnel files (CEZ/C/AM 6) and some of the papers relating to the Society's pension fund (CEZ/F/F 9/4-6). Minutes are closed in line with the CMS 40 year closure period. Closure dates are indicated at file level.

For preservation reasons, where microfilm or digital copies are available, these surrogate copies are made available in place of the originals.
Finding AidsA catalogue of this collection is available on the online archive catalogue. Click on the Finding Number to display the summary contents list of the catalogue and to view the full catalogue, or view the catalogue as a PDF file by clicking in the document field below. A paper copy of this catalogue is also available for consultation at Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections.

A manual card index, compiled by the CEZMS for in-house use, is also held by Cadbury Research Library. The index includes name cards giving brief biographical details for CEZMS missionaries, as well as cards for institutions, annual events, outside organisations (for example, the Anti-Slavery and Aborigines Protection Society), items of mission correspondence in the records of the Foreign and Candidate Secretary's Department filed by name of mission (for example, Madras) and many other subjects arranged alphabetically. Some of the missionary name cards have manuscript notes added after the date on which the Society amalgamated with the Church Mission Society (1957). A similar card index compiled by the Church Mission Society also includes name cards for some CEZMS missionaries.

The catalogue to the Records of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society includes terms copied from the records which are offensive and discriminatory. The language reflects usage at the time the records were written. Historically, the archive catalogues did not consistently use quotation marks ("...") to indicate where terms had been taken directly from the records. We are working to revise our finding aids to ensure that they do not make anyone feel excluded or unwelcome, or use prejudicial language, whilst also recognising the impact of the past and the historical context.
Access StatusPartially closed
Creator NameChurch of England Zenana Missionary Society
Administrative HistoryThe Church of England Zenana Missionary Society (CEZMS) was founded in 1880 when it separated from the interdenominational Indian Female Normal School Society founded 1852. 'Zenana' comes from the Persian word for woman; in India it refers both to the women's quarters in a Hindu home and has the more general meaning 'belonging to women'. The zenana was accessible only to women and the CEZMS was predominantly staffed and supported by women and girls, and worked through women missionaries (source: CEZ/G/EA 5F). Its main aim was to evangelise the women of India by means of normal schools [teacher training colleges], zenana visiting, medical missions, Hindu and Muslim female schools and the employment of Bible Women. From the start, CEZMS worked in close co-operation with the Church Missionary Society (CMS), for example, in deciding where to extend work overseas, sending missionaries to work in CMS mission areas and in sharing some candidates' facilities; the two Societies also shared local overseas secretaries and had a joint Women's Committee. In 1957 CEZMS amalgamated with CMS although a board of trustees continued to administer the transfer of property and trust funds until 1968.

The overseas work of the Society started in India but spread to China in 1884, Japan in 1886 and Ceylon in 1889. Work in China ended in 1950 when the missionaries had to leave, but from 1952 they worked amongst the Chinese in Malay. When the Society's work in Japan ceased in 1892 it was handed over to CMS. When the Female Education Society (founded 1843) closed down in 1900, CEZMS took over their work in Singapore, though the Singapore School Sub-Committee (Secretary 1904-1912 Lady Gage Brown; 1913 Miss E. Gage Brown) was not fully integrated until 1913. CEZMS missionaries began teaching in zenanas and day schools. The chief stations were Trivandrum, Palamcotta (Sarah Tucker College), Masulipatam [Machilipatnam] and Madras in South India, Meerut (handed over to CMS 1893), Jabalpur, Calcutta (Normal School) and Amritsar (Alexandra School) in North India. Medical work was of great importance. The Society had taken over the work at Amritsar (St Catherine's Hospital) and other hospitals and dispensaries were established in Bhagalpur, Srinagar, Peshawar (Connaught Hospital), Batala, Narowal and Tarn Taran. Work was also done by 'village missions', a central village from which evangelists visited dozens of villages grouped around the centre. The chief places for these in the 1880s were Jandiala, Ajnala, Narowal, Tarn Taran and Nadiya. Industrial work was begun in 1883 with a class at Amritsar. There was also work amongst the 'deaf and dumb' in India (at Palamcotta from 1900, Mylapore from 1914) and amongst the blind in China at Kucheng, and Nantai, Foochow. Source: Rosemary A. Keen, Catalogue of the papers of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society, 1987.

Work at home focussed on supporting the missionaries and their work overseas: directly, through recruitment, training, on-going support, liaison with mission stations and overseas stakeholders, fundraising and promotional work (exhibitions, deputations, conferences, and publication); indirectly, by working through networks of local Associations, Working Parties, Unions and individual supporters ('friends') in England, Ireland, Wales, Belgium, France, Italy, Australia and Tasmania, New Zealand and Canada. Associations acted as the official representative of the Society at a local level; they fundraised, promoted the work of the Society by disseminating CEZMS literature, organising local conferences, exhibitions and deputation work and kept local members in touch with headquarters. Working Parties made work for sale, organised gifts to be sent out to mission stations etc. By the late 1890s, supporters in Ireland had founded the Hibernian Auxiliary of the CEZMS. The Society's 'Mothers' Own Missionary Scheme', launched in 1900, encouraged members of Mother's Meetings and similar groups to raise funds to support special CEZMS 'Mothers Own Missionaries' who in turn kept in touch with the groups through twice yearly letters circulated as printed leaflets. The Society encouraged support in the form of prayer and a Fellowship of Intercession was established whose members responded to specific requests from missionaries in the Field for 'converts, enquirers and others, in urgent need of prayer' and those with whom they were working. The Daybreak Worker's Union (Girls Guild 1908; Girls Auxiliary 1921) had its own library, stamp fund and a department for copying letters from missionaries; it supported its 'Own Missionary' and published 'Daybreak' (a quarterly periodical for girls) and 'Terminal letter to Girls' (for schools who joined the Union). A junior branch was established under the name 'Torchbearers'. The industrial work of the Society overseas was supported by the Indian Widows' Union 1889-1946/1947. This was an independent group but worked in connection with the CEZMS. It operated through a central committee and local 'bands' of English widows. The aim of the Union was to support Hindu and 'Muhammadan' widows by raising funds to establish industrial schools and support vocational training initiatives, by helping to dispose of work produced through the industrial schools and by pursuing other means of promoting the widows' welfare. The Society's Editorial Department produced a number of printed leaflets and publications to support and promote the activities of its home network, including 'Hints to Helpers' for people wishing to establish or reorganise Working Parties and the quarterly periodical 'Homes of the East' intended for circulation to members of Mothers' Meetings, local Bible classes and similar groups. Source: CEZMS literature and printed Annual Reports.

The first headquarters of the Society was at 38 Tavistock Road, Westbourne Park, London. It served both as office and residential base for missionaries on leave, prospective candidates, deputation workers, members of the annual Spring conference and other visitors. In 1881 the office moved to 9 Salisbury Square, while the Central Home and Depot for work moved in 1883 to 5 Maresfield Gardens, Fitzjohn Avenue, Hampstead. The office subsequently moved to 27 Chancery Lane, 1898-1929; 19 and 21 Southampton Street (renamed Conway Street 1938), 1929-1952, and Cromwell House, Highgate, 1952-57. The Home was at Manor House, 20 Leigh Road, Highbury 1888-1938, The Lodge, Gibson's Hill, Streatham (sold to Croydon corporation) 1938-1951, and Cromwell House, 1952-1957.

CEZMS office organisation was very similar to that of CMS. The Society was run by committees, each Secretary of the main committees being head of a department at Headquarters. The Clerical Secretary served the General and Executive Committees which were responsible overall for Society affairs. He was also in charge of the Editorial Department. The Lay, or Financial, Secretary was responsible for the raising of funds and all financial and property matters. The Foreign and Candidates Secretary corresponded with the missionaries and churches overseas and was responsible for recruiting and training candidates. In 1952 her title was changed to Foreign and Home Secretary and she additionally took responsibility for the House (Home and Depot) Committee (previously served by the Lady Superintendent of the Home) as well as the Home Organisation Committee.

CEZMS Secretaries:
Secretary: 1880-1891 James Stuart; 1880-1897 Colonel G. R. Stewart Black; 1894-1897 Major General C. G. Robinson.

Clerical Secretary (General Secretary): 1889-1907 Reverend George Tonge; 1908-1912 Reverend C. H. Stileman; 1912-1916 Reverend H. P. Napier-Clavering; 1917-1919 Reverend C. E. Paterson; 1919-1929 Reverend Douglas H. G. Sargent; 1930-1939 Reverend A. J. Mortimore; 1940-1944 Reverend J. P. Heaton; 1945-1957 Reverend J. Bates.

Lay Secretary (Financial Secretary): 1880-1891 Mrs James Stuart; 1891-1897 Colonel R. F. Lowis; 1898-1901 R. G. Macdonald; 1902-1904 J. B. Braddon; 1905-1919 H. L. Hebbert; 1919 R. Swinburne; 1920-1924 Colonel A. H. van Straubenzee; 1925-1927 Major J. A. McQueen; 1928-1946 Major C. J. Everard; 1947-1957 Colonel C. D. O. Pugh.

Central Association Secretary (Home Organisation Committee): 1881-1909 Miss Mulvany; 1910-1913 Miss L. M. H. Nash; 1914-1919 Miss E. M. Plumptre; 1920-1935 Miss M. E. Pell; 1936-1949 Miss R. B. Rhodes; 1950-1951 Miss Enock; 1952 joined with Foreign and Candidates Secretary.

Editor and Superintendent of Publication Department (Secretary to Publication Committee): 1895-1898 Miss Dona Woolmer; 1898-1901 Miss Irene H. Barnes; 1902-1905 Miss J. S. Jameson; 1906-1910 Miss M. Cave; 1911-1912 Miss C. H. Tod; 1913-1915 Miss M. C. Outram; 1916-1919 Miss Lilian Seeley; 1920-1924 Mrs Hanson; 1925 Miss L. G. Dowdall; 1926-1949 Miss A. M. Robinson; 1950-1952 Miss M. D. Morris; 1952 Department closed.

Secretary to Candidates Committee: 1880-1901 Mrs Sandys; 1902-1905 Mrs Tonge; 1906-1907 Miss L. S. Bayley.

Foreign and Candidates Secretary (Foreign and Home Secretary 1952): 1908-1915 Miss A. M. L. Smith; 1916-1923 Miss M. I. Millner; 1924-1937 Miss C. Priscilla Smith; 1938-1957 Miss Winifred M. Chapman.

House (Home and Depot) Committee: Secretary: Lady Superintendent: 1882-1891 Miss Cockle; 1892-1897 Miss Turner; 1898-1916 Mrs Bardsley; 1917-1919 Miss E. S. Tiley; 1919 Miss E. Wilson; 1920-1923 Miss C. Priscilla Smith; 1924-1952 Miss A. E. West; 1952 Committee closed.

In addition to the main committees in London, the Society maintained contact with its field workers at home and abroad through a network of officers and committees. Mission stations overseas had a local office and an Honorary Corresponding Secretary. Local 'home' based Associations had a Secretary (generally appointed by Headquarters) who served as the main point of contact with London. The Daybreak Workers' Union operated through 'bands' of local workers each with their own Secretary (from 1921 the Union became autonomous and elected its own committee). The Hibernian Auxiliary worked through an all female Committee and a Consultative Council of clergy and laity. Source: printed Annual Reports.
Custodial HistoryThe Records of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society passed into the custody of the Church Mission Society (formerly Church Missionary Society) on the amalgamation of the two societies and were subsequently retained as part of the wider Church Mission Society Archive.
AcquisitionFollowing a long-term contract made between the Church Mission Society and the University of Birmingham for the gradual transfer on permanent loan of the Church Missionary Society Archive, the first transfer from CMS headquarters in London took place in 1979-1980. The Records of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society were deposited by the Church Mission Society in 1987. An additional volume was added to the book collection in 2015 (CEZ/G/EL 1/6/83a).
Archival NoteCatalogued by Rosemary Keen 1987. Catalogue entered into CALM 2008. Additional cataloguing of the book collection (CEZ/G/EL 1/6) was completed between 2009 and 2019 on discovery of discrepancies between the titles of books that appear in the microfilmed copy of the collection compiled before transfer to Cadbury Research Library and the titles held by Cadbury Research Library (see 'Copies'). Where books are available to see on microfilm but the originals are not held with the rest of the collection at Cadbury Research Library, this is indicated at file level in the online archive catalogue.
CopiesAlmost all of this collection is available on microfilm and online. The only materials that are open for consultation in the Cadbury Research Library but not available either on microfilm or online, are: artefacts (CEZ/G EL8 and CEZ/H Z3); two fragile guard book volumes (CEZ/G/EA 1/3-4) and ten of the books (CEZ/G/EL 1/6/18; /19; /21; /25; /42; /65; /83; /83a; /89; /99).


With just a few exceptions, all of the materials in this collection that are open for research were micropublished by Adam Matthew Publications Ltd as part of a major project to micropublish records from the Church Missionary Society Archive.

The microfilming was in two parts. In 1997, microfilms of periodicals from the collection were released under the title 'Church Missionary Society Archive: Section II: Missions to Women, Parts 1-3'. In the following year, other records were micropublished as 'Church Missionary Society Archive: Section I: East Asia Missions, Parts 4-9'.

The Missions to Women microfilm comprises copies of periodicals from Interserve, London as well as those in the Records of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society held by Cadbury Research Library and includes a more extensive set of 'The Indian Female Evangelist' and successor titles than are held in the CEZMS archive.

Copies of the microfilms have been purchased by libraries and other institutions around the world. The full text of the printed guides to the microfilm are available online through the Adam Matthew Publications website at and paper copies of the guides are also available in Cadbury Research Library.

Reference copies of the microfilms are available in Cadbury Research Library in microfilm drawers E2, E3, E4, E5, E7 and E8.

Digital publication:

Apart from a few issues of 'The Indian Female Evangelist', digital copies of all of the materials which were micropublished by Adam Matthew Publications are also available online through the website of Adam Matthew Digital. Released as: 'AM Scholar - Church Missionary Society Archive: Missions to Women', 'Research Source - Church Missionary Society Archive: East Asia Missions', 'Church Missionary Society Periodicals' and 'Empire Online'.

The digitally published materials can be seen online by members of, and visitors to, the University of Birmingham and other institutions that subscribe to the Adam Matthew products.

All visitors who have registered for a Cadbury Research Library Reader ticket can view the online copies on the public access computers in the Cadbury Research Library Reading Room by following the URL links in the online catalogue or, where there are no URL links, by accessing the Adam Matthew website through 'Favourites'. Staff and students of the University of Birmingham may also access the products when off campus by logging in to the University’s eResources through FindIt@Bham.

To find out about options for accessing microfilm or digital copies of the records in this collection if you are unable to visit the Cadbury Research Library, please contact Adam Matthew for information about holding institutions near you, and options for arranging institutional subscription or a four-week free trial of the digital products. Go to:

To find out about a Cadbury Research Library Adam Matthew Partnership Project which offers 12 researchers, one year of free individual access to the Adam Matthew products: ‘Church Missionary Society Archive' and 'Church Missionary Society Periodicals', go to the Research, Learning and Teaching page of the Cadbury Research Library website and follow the links under 'Support for remote learners’ at
Related MaterialAs the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society and the Church Mission Society worked very closely together, researchers should also refer to the other deposited, unofficial and official collections which make up the wider CMS Archive (see Church Missionary Society Archive, finding number GB 0150 CMS). For example, the overseas minutes and periodicals in the records of the CMS Home Division are a useful source of information on CEZMS missionaries (CMS/H/H5). There is a small file of correspondence relating to possible federation of CEZMS with the Zenana Bible and Medical Mission in the records of the General Secretary's Department of the CMS (CMS/G/O 14). Records of local associations and auxiliary societies which were founded to support the work of the CEZMS can also be found in the CMS Unofficial Papers collection, including Birmingham Diocesan Auxiliary minutes 1924-1957 (CMS/ACC304); Southport Association minutes 1896-1958 (CMS/ACC309); Manchester Association financial records 1948-1961 (CMS/ACC342); the CMS Unofficial papers also include personal papers of some CEZMS missionaries including a photograph album of Miss M. E. Kirby, CEZMS missionary in China, 1898-1906 (CMS/ACC204); photograph albums of unidentified CEZMS missionaries c 1900 (CMS/ACC256); letters and photographs of Miss Emilie Stroelin, CEZMS missionary in Meerut (Mirat), India 1881-1904 (CMS/ACC292) and papers of Miss Kathleen Sophia Loader (1875-1945), CEZMS missionary, Fukien, China 1901-1945 (CMS/ACC341).
Associated MaterialsThe British Library holds some copies missing from the various series surviving in the archives: 'Homes of the East' 1904-1909; 'Review of the Year' 1927/28, 1938-1951; 'Daybreak' 1886-1887, 1890-April 1892, 1894-1905, 1910-July 1914'; 'Torchbearer' October
Publication NoteArmitstead-Higgins, Anne, Ladies of the Light: Women Missionaries of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society c1850-1900 available online at


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