|Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)||CMS|
|Title||Church Missionary Society archive|
|Extent||250 linear metres|
|Thumbnail (Click this image to open a larger image)|
|Description||The official archive of the Church Mission Society (formerly Church Missionary Society) predominantly comprises the records of the administrative departments at the Society's headquarters, including records of the General Secretary's Department; Finance Department; Committee of Correspondence, Group 1 (later 'East Asia'), Group 2 (later 'West Asia') and Group 3 (later 'Africa') Committees and Africa and Asia Departments of the Foreign (later Overseas) Division; the Medical, Candidates' and Women's Departments, the Educational Auxiliary and various departments of the Home Division. |
The archives of the administrative departments include committee and sub-committee minutes, administrative files, incoming and outgoing correspondence, letter books, registers, missionary application papers, ledgers, cash books and other financial records, printed and other materials. Arising from the central administration and running of the Society, they include records relating to CMS policy and direction, the seeking out and training of missionary candidates, the CMS's training institutions, the welfare of staff in the UK and overseas, correspondence with government and other administrative and governing bodies in the UK and overseas, with overseas bishops and other missionary societies, papers relating to CMS property, and correspondence with its overseas hospitals and other medical and educational institutions.
The bulk of the records kept by the Foreign (Overseas) Division comprise correspondence to and from each mission area, including original papers and contemporary office copies. The mission correspondence aavailable for research dates from the Society's first work overseas at the beginning of the 19th century to 1959. During the 19th and the early part of the 20th century, the CMS exercised close supervision and control over its missions and, as a result, the records are both extensive and detailed. The papers include, for example, the detailed journals and Annual Letters which the Society's missionaries were required to provide as an account of their activities. As the work of the missions embraced not just evangelism but also education, medical work, language study and translations, development of local agriculture and industry, the records are a valuable resource for study not only of Church and mission enterprise but a wide range of other topic areas including anthropology, politics, slavery, geography, travel and women's studies.
In addition to the records catalogued by department, there are some additional sequences within the official archive. Most notable are the Proceedings of the Church Missionary Society (incorporating the Society's annual report), 1801-1921/22 continued as the Annual Report of the Committee of the Church Missionary Society 1922-1962; the 'CMS Year Book' 1962- (under the title, 'CMS Directory' from 1981); the CMS Historical Record 1919, 1922/23-1986; printed 'Extracts of the Annual Letters of the Missionaries for the year …', 1886-1912 (entitled 'Letters from the Front' 1911-12). There are also small compilations of records held as the CMS Maps, CMS Plans, CMS Miscellaneous papers, CMS [language] Manuscripts and the CMS Registers of Missionaries. Some of the original copies of the serial publications have been retained by CMS (Oxford) but complete sequences can be seen digitally or on microfilm in Cadbury Research Library and at other subscribing institutions.
The majority of records currently available for research in Cadbury Research Library date from 1799-1959. However, material in the public domain, including extensive sequences of periodicals and the CMS printed and typescript annual reports and year books, are available beyond this date.
In addition to the CMS official archive, the CMS Archive in the broader sense (being all those records compiled by CMS and selected for permanent retention), includes a number of deposited and unofficial archives. Including records of organisations which amalgamated with CMS or otherwise passed their records to CMS headquarters (Church of England Zenana Missionary Society; Society for Promoting Female Education in the East; Loochoo Naval Mission; Mid-Africa Ministry; Missionary Leaves Association); an extensive and growing sequence of collections of privately deposited papers relating to the work of the Church Mission Society, both at home (UK) and through its overseas missions (the Church Missionary Society Unofficial Papers); a collection of theses written about CMS or making extensive use of the records; also small miscellaneous compilations of records passed to CMS headquarters by related bodies (papers of several local CMS Associations; Persia Diocesan Association; Sierra Leone Diocesan Association; overseas mission records of overseas churches). These are catalogued as distinct collections (see under 'Arrangement' and 'Related Material' below).
A small number of books received as part of the CMS archive, but not listed under the records of a particular CMS department, are held as a named collection within Cadbury Research Library's rare books (see Finding Aids below)
PLEASE NOTE THAT WHERE MICROFILM OR DIGITAL COPIES ARE AVAILABLE THESE ARE MADE AVAILABLE IN PLACE OF ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS TO ENSURE THE LONG-TERM PRESERVATION OF THE RECORDS. SEE COPIES BELOW.
|Arrangement||The arrangement of the official archive largely reflects the administrative growth of the Society. For the purposes of cataloguing, the work of the Society has been divided into two parts - work at home (ie in the British Isles) and work overseas. |
The arrangement of the records of the CMS relating to its work within the British Isles is by Department. Each Department has been allocated a reference letter (eg C=Candidates, F=Finance and G=General Secretary) and the records within each department have then been arranged into a classification scheme according to their creation and use by that department (eg A=Administration, C=Committee work, with further subdivisions as appropriate).
The records relating to the CMS's overseas work are organised into three chronological divisions: 1799-1880; 1880-1934; and 1935-1959. These divisions reflect the changes made by the Society in the administration of its overseas mission work. Once established, each mission area had its own administrative machinery including a mission secretary, committees and conferences and it also had its own series of correspondence and papers at headquarters. Each mission area was allocated a reference letter/letters and number and this reference is retained throughout the whole period 1799-1959. For example, the missions in Africa are all given the letter A and then numbered in the order in which work began (eg A1= Sierra Leone; A8=Tanganyika).
Overseas Missions under the Committee of Correspondence (C), 1799-1880:
The Committee of Correspondence (also known as the Parent Committee), established in 1799, directed the overseas mission work of the Society until 1880. The records of each mission for the period 1805-1880 (which are all prefixed by the letter C, followed by the mission reference) comprise the following series:
E=early incoming and outgoing correspondence, 1805-1820 (for the missions established before 1820 only);
L=letter books containing copies of outgoing letters from CMS headquarters, 1820-1880;
O=incoming papers and correspondence from the mission secretary and missionaries (arranged alphabetically by name of missionary), 1820-1880;
M=mission books containing copies of the incoming papers by clerks at headquarters, 1820-1880
Overseas Missions under the Group Sub-Committees, 1880-1934:
In 1880, the overseas mission work was divided into three groups, each with its own sub-committee answering to the Committee of Correspondence. The mission areas were divided between three regions, East Asia (Group 1), West Asia (Group 2) and Africa (Group 3). The missions geographically outside Asia and Africa were allocated to one of the Groups to equalise the work of the Secretaries serving the Group Committees.
The records of each mission for the period 1880-1934 (which are all prefixed by the appropriate reference for the Group, followed by the unique mission reference) comprise the following series:
I=letter books containing private and confidential letters to individual missionaries;
L=letter books containing copies of outgoing letters from CMS headquarters, mostly official letters to the mission secretary;
O=incoming papers and correspondence from the mission secretary and missionaries (arranged chronologically);
P=precis books containing a summary of the original papers and used as agenda for committee meetings.
Overseas Missions under Africa and Asia Committees, 1935-1959:
From 1935, the incoming and outgoing correspondence and papers are all kept together and arranged by their missions and then organised into a number of file series (all prefixed by the mission area's unique reference, followed by number or letter references). These include correspondence with the mission secretary and papers of local CMS committees; correspondence with bishops and diocesan authorities; and series of files for each educational, medical or other institution or place in which the CMS missionaries worked.
The unofficial and deposited papers are listed separately.When work to enter the numerous volumes of the original paper catalogue to the CMS Archive into the Cadbury Research Library online catalogue was started, the deposited and unofficial collections (including the CEZ, Loochoo, MAM, MLA and FES archives and the 'CMS Unofficial Papers' CMS/ACC) were entered separately from the other parts of the CMS Archive. This long established practice is being continued as further parts of the catalogue to the CMS Archive are entered online.
|Access Conditions||The majority of this collection is open to all registered researchers but some records are closed in line with closure periods set by CMS and Data Protection regulations. The CMS archives are subject to a 40 year closure period. Annual Letters of missionaries are subject to a 50 year closure period. Where records relating to living individuals are of a sensitive nature, an additional closure period applies such that missionary application papers, for example, are closed for the lifespan of the individual concerned or 105 years. |
|Copyright||Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing, from the Director of Special Collections as custodian of the archive (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) and from the Church Mission Society as owner of the archive and copyright owner of a large proportion of the material (email: email@example.com).|
|Finding Aids||Archive catalogue: a paper catalogue listing almost all of the contents of the archive to file and item level (in over 30 volumes) is available in Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections. Many, but not all, of these volumes have been entered into the online archive catalogue and so these catalogue entries can also be searched online: click on Finding Number to display a sum-mary contents list and repeat click to open up different levels of the catalogue. Further parts of the catalogue will be made available electronically in due course. (See also 'Research Guide' below). |
University of Birmingham library catalogue: books received as part of the CMS archive, and not as part of the records of a particular CMS department, are held as a discreet collection within Cadbury Research Library's rare books; they can be searched using FindIt@Bham (shelfmark pre-fixed Cadbury Research Library Church Missionary Society).
Research guides: the paper and online catalogue listings are supplemented by four research guides designed to assist with Frequently Asked Questions about the archive:
1. 'Research Guide: Church Missionary Society': an illustrated, introductory guide to the collec-tion intended for visitors to the Cadbury Research Library. The Guide includes an introduction to the different parts of the wider CMS Archive, summary lists of missions, advice on how to use key record sequences, information about material in the archive which is not listed in either the paper or online copies of the catalogues, options if you are unable to visit the Cadbury Research Library, information about microfilm and online copies, guidance on using the finding aid and tips on using the Archive to look for records about a missionary or a mission. Copies are availa-ble in the Cadbury Research Library on paper and online; there is a pdf copy attached to the Document field below. To request a copy in another format, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 0121 414 5839.
2. 'Guide to the records of the Candidates Department': electronic (pdf) copy available online attached to the sub-fonds level entry in the online archive catalogue, archive finding number CMS/C.
3. 'Guide to the records of the Medical Department': electronic (pdf) copy available online at-tached to the sub-fonds level entry in the online archive catalogue, archive finding number CMS/M.
4. 'Guide to the committee records compiled by the General Secretary's Department': electronic (pdf) copy available online attached to the sub-fonds level entry in the online archive catalogue, archive finding number CMS/G.
Indexes: a two-part index to extracts of missionaries' Annual Letters for 1886-1912 is available in Cadbury Research Library (pdf copies are attached to the 'Document' field below); a name card index complied by CMS is available for consultation in Cadbury Research Library; Cadbury Re-search Library also holds a microfiche copy of a place index to the CMS archive. Further infor-mation about the indexes and Annual Letters is available in the 'Research Guide: Church Mission-ary Society'.
Microfilm and digital copies of CMS records and publications: printed and online guides to rec-ords which have been micropublished and digitized by Adam Matthew are available online and in CMS (Oxford), Cadbury Research Library and other subscribing institutions. See under ‘Copies’ below.
|Document||CMS Research Guide (PDF version, November 2020).pdf|
|CMS and related collection - summary list of records issued on microfilm.pdf|
|CMS, CEZMS, FES and MAM periodical titles available online through Adam Matthew Digital.pdf|
|Index to printed Annual Letters 1886-1904.pdf|
|Index to printed Annual Letters 1905-1912.pdf|
|Access Status||Open, but subject to some access restrictions|
|Administrative History||In the late 18th century, the Church of England did not have a body to organise and effect its missionary activity and there became a growing realisation that there was scope for a society to evangelise the indigenous people. In 1799, a group of Evangelical clergymen and laymen (all members of the Eclectic Society, an Anglican discussion society) met at the Castle and Falcon Inn in Aldersgate in the City of London and the 'Church Missionary Society for Africa and the East' was formed. At that meeting, John Venn, rector of Clapham (and a member of the Clapham sect) laid down the guidelines which the CMS continues to follow. The basis was that the society should be loyal to the leadership of bishops and to the Anglican pattern of liturgy but that it was not to be dominated by clergy. It emphasised the role of laymen and laywomen and was and is primarily a membership society comprising its missionaries, its supporters and its staff at headquarters.|
The Church Missionary Society (renamed the Church Mission Society in April 1995) is administered by its committees and each Secretary to a main committee is in charge of a department at headquarters. The General Committee (now the General Council) is the most important and is responsible for overall policy and all CMS members are represented on the General Committee. The main departments at headquarters included the General Secretary's Department, the Finance Department (both in existence from the foundation of the Society), the Home Department (set up in 1871), the Medical Department (set up in 1891) and the Candidates Department (set up in 1897). Up to 1880, administration of all overseas mission work was through the Committee of Correspondence. In 1880, the system of mission administration was revised and the mission field was divided into three geographical areas under three Group Sub-Committees (initially named 'Group 1', 'Group 2' and 'Group 3' later 'East Asia', 'West Asia' and 'Africa' committees); from 1957 the missions were administered by the Africa Committee and the Asia Committee.
Initially the Society had no designated offices but in 1813 it rented premises in Salisbury Square which had expanded by the end of the 19th century to house a large headquarters with a complex administration and numerous staff working under eleven Secretaries. The Society moved from the City of London in 1966 to premises in Waterloo Road. After the opening of regional offices in Ghana, Korea and Singapore in 2006, CMS headquarters moved out of London to the current location of Watling Street, Oxford in 2007.
The overseas mission work of the CMS began in West Africa in 1804 but spread rapidly to India, Canada, New Zealand and the area around the Mediterranean. Its main areas of work in Africa have been in Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Sudan; in Asia, the CMS's involvement has principally been in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, China and Japan; and in the Middle East, it has worked in Palestine, Jordan, Iran and Egypt. It has also worked extensively in New Zealand (1809-1914) and Canada (1822-1930), with smaller missions in Abyssinia (1830-1842), Asia Minor (Smyrna) (1830-1877), Greece (1830-1875), Madagascar (1863-1874), Malta (1815-1843), Mauritius (1856-1929), Seychelles (1871-1894), South Africa (1840-1843), Turkey (1819-1821), Turkish Arabia (Baghdad, 1883-1919 and Mosul, 1900-1919), and the West Indies (1819-1861).
References: Rosemary Keen, 'The Church Missionary Society Archives: or thirty years work in the basement', Catholic Archives, volume 12, 1992, pp21-31; Church Missionary Society Archive. General Guide and Introduction to the Archive. A Guide to the Microfilm Collection (Adam Matthew Publications, 1998); Henry S. Cobb, 'The archives of the Church Missionary Society', Archives volume II, number 14, 1955.
|Custodial History||Following a long-term contract made between CMS 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. This deposit comprised the Africa overseas missions records for the period up to 1934. The second phase of transfer took place in 1986. This comprised the East Asia and West Asia overseas missions records for the period similarly up to 1934. The next major transfer of records from CMS headquarters was completed by 1993 and this included the records of the overseas missions for the period 1935-1949, records of the Finance, Medical and Candidates Departments; together with related archives including the surviving records of the Female Education Society and the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society and the privately deposited archive collection known as the Church Missionary Society Unofficial Papers. An additional deposit of material for 1950-59 was received in 2000. |
The CMS has long recognised the value of its archives and first employed an archivist in 1951 in order to make the early mission archives available. The cataloguing work of the archive has been undertaken by CMS archivists, most notably Rosemary Keen and Ken Osborne.
|Copies||Parts of the CMS archive have been micropublished by Adam Matthew Publications as part of a long term project which started in 1996. They were published in a series of sections with accompanying printed guides which include reel by reel listings of the records which have been microfilmed. |
The microfilms are arranged as:
Section I: East Asia Missions
Section II: Missions to Women
Section III: Central Records
Section IV: Africa Missions
Section V: Missions to the Americas
Section VI: Missions to India
Section VII: General Secretary's Papers
Section VIII: Home Papers, Part I
Section IX: Middle East Missions
The microfilms include copies of a large number of pamphlets and periodicals which have been retained by CMS (Oxford) as well as records deposited in Cadbury Research Library. They were filmed as part of Section III: Central Records. For example, Section III: Central Records: part 22 comprises copies of numerous publications held as India Pamphlets, Africa Pamphlets, CMS Printed Publications and Missionary Pamphlets.
Cadbury Research Library holds a complete set of all the microfilms and copies of the printed guides to Sections I-VI. Libraries and other institutions around the world have subscribed to some or all of these sections. The full text of guides to Sections I-IX are also available online through the Adam Matthew at http://ampltd.co.uk/digital_guides/a.aspx.
Where microfilm copies are available, this is indicated in the online catalogue (see 'Copies' under CMS/B; CMS/G and CMS/M) and in the paper handlists (see the list of contents at the front of the handlists). There is also a summary list attached to the Fonds level entry in the online archive catalogue including drawer locations for the microfilm set held in Cadbury Research Library (See 'Documents' above)
As well as the very extensive microfilm sequences produced by Adam Matthew, there are microfilm copies of the earliest issues of the 'CMS Proceedings of the Church Missionary Society for Africa and the East' 1801-1921.
In addition to the microfilms, digital copies of selected CMS records and publications are available online through Adam Matthew Digital (www.amdigital.co.uk), the Internet Archive (www.archive.org), Google Books (www.books.google.co.uk) and Hathi Trust digital library (www.hathitrust.org).
The Adam Matthew Digital website is of particular note. Digital copies of all of the materials which were micropublished by Adam Matthew Publications are available online under two titles: 'Research Source - Church Missionary Society Archive' (www.researchsource.amdigital.co.uk/cms) and 'Church Missionary Society Periodicals' (www.churchmissionarysociety.amdigital.co.uk/Introduction). Miscellaneous records from the CMS Archive are also used in other Adam Matthew Digital products including 'Empire Online'.
The digitized copies on the Adam Matthew Digital website are available to visitors to subscribing institutions (including the University of Birmingham) alongside an excellent range of supporting material; copies on the other sites are freely accessible. To find out more about Adam Matthew Digital and to request a free trial, go to https://www.amdigital.co.uk/.
|Related Material||Cadbury Research Library holds a number of deposited and unofficial archives which form part of the wider CMS Archive: |
Church Missionary Society Unofficial Papers (CMS/ACC)
CMS Theses (CMS/THES)
Records of Local CMS Associations (CMS/SOC)
Records of the Persia Diocesan Association (CMS/PDA)
Records of the Sierra Leone Diocesan Association (CMS/SLDA) (NOT HELD BY CADBURY RESEARCH LIBRARY)
Records of Overseas Missions from records of overseas churches (CMS/Q)
Records of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society archive (CEZ)
Records of the Loochoo Naval Mission (L)
Records of the Mid-Africa Ministry (MAM)
Records of the Missionary Leaves Association (MLA)
Records of the Society for Promoting Female Education in the East (FES)
In addition to collections received as part of the CMS Archive, Cadbury Research Library holds records of the Church Pastoral Aid Society (merged with CYFA Pathfinder Ventures Ltd, 1 May 2010) founded in the Committee Room of the Church Missionary Society in 1836 (finding number: CPAS); records of other overseas mission organisations including the Bible Churchmen's Missionary Society (finding number: MS47), BibleLands (finding number: MS203), the Zambesi Mission (finding number: ZM) and records of the United Mission to Nepal (DA45); records relating to missionary training in the records of St John's College, Nottingham including papers of its predecessor, the London School of Divinity, (finding number: SJC) and Records of St Andrews' Hall (finding number: SAH); papers of missionaries of CMS and other mission societies including, for example, Papers of Constance E. Padwick (finding number: DA33), the Tugwell Collection (finding number: DA44), Papers of Mildred Eleanor Gibbs (finding number: DA17), Papers of David Macdonald Paton (finding number: DA34), Account of a journey made by Archibald Downes-Shaw (finding number: MS12), Papers of Dr James Laidlaw Maxwell and his son Dr John Preston Maxwell (finding number: DA26); Papers of Rev Canon Ernest Walter ('Rufus') Francis, Bible Churchmen's Missionary Society missionary (finding number: MS837); Dr Karl Gutzlaff Collection (finding number: DA19) and more.
As well as the books which were deposited as part of CMS archive, there are many mission related titles in Cadbury Research Library book collections, some written by or about CMS missionaries.
|Associated Materials||The Church Mission Society retains custody of most of its archives post 1960, together with some other earlier records and extensive collections of printed and published material. These are maintained at CMS headquarters, Watlington Road, Oxford, OX4 6BZ. |
|The Royal Commonwealth Society Library, Cambridge University (GB 0115) holds a Church Missionary Society Photographic Collection; all of the glass plates from the collection are available online at https://cudl.lib.cam.ac.uk/view/PH-CMS-00001/1. |
|Publication Note||There are a number of published histories of the Church Missionary Society. These include the following official histories which are all available in Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections: Charles Hole, 'The early history of the Church Missionary Society for Africa and the East to the end of A.D. 1814' (London: Church Missionary Society, 1896); Eugene Stock, 'The history of the Church Missionary Society, its environment, its men and its work' in 4 volumes (London: Church Missionary Society, 1899-1916) and Gordon Hewitt, 'The problems of success: a history of the Church Missionary Society, 1910-1942' in 2 volumes (London: published for the Church Missionary Society by SCM Press, 1971-1977). The full text of Hole's and Stock's histories can be found online through the Internet Archive at http://www.archive.org. |
See also 'The Church Mission Society and world Christianity, 1799-1999' edited by Kevin Ward and Brian Stanley (Grand Rapids, Mich.; : Cambridge : Eerdmans ; Richmond, Surrey : Curzon Press, 2000); 'Christian Women in Chinese Society: The Anglican Story' edited by Wai Ching Angela Wong and Patricia P. K. Chiu. Sheng Kung Hui: Historical Studies of Anglican Christianity in China series (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2018)