|Description||Key sequences of correspondence reflecting the central role held by the General Secretary's Department. Chiefly comprising correspondence with people in the UK (including missionaries on furlough or on sick leave) and with correspondents overseas in areas where the CMS did not operate missions including staff and students of the missionary training institutions in Berlin and Basel from where the CMS recruited some of its earliest missionaries. Although largely relating to the 'home' side of CMS business (the bulk of the Department's correspondence with its missions is filed separately), there are some letters from correspondents in CMS mission areas and much concerning the Society's missions.|
Arranged in sequences of predominantly UK correspondence 1799-1867, 1824-1890, 1872-1907, 1874-1917; predominantly overseas correspondence 1820-1866, 1820-1847, 1823-1877 and mixed UK and overseas correspondence 1921-1949; General Secretary's private and confidential correspondence chiefly concerning appointments and references 1906-1933, correspondence with the Archbishop of Canterbury 1912-1949, with bishops 1914-1922, with the CMS President during World War II 1939-1941, with missionaries and overseas bishops c 1933-c 1934, with Headquarters staff and others 1925-1946, concerning the Cambridge University Scheme for Mission in North India 1876 and the Charitable Trusts Acts Amendment Bill 1881, and Dandeson Coates' private and confidential correspondence 1824-1847. There are also small sequences of office copies of some of the incoming (1820-1870) and outgoing (1820-1875) correspondence and an artificial sequence of miscellaneous correspondence 1821-1949.
The different letter sequences are not mutually exclusive. For example, the incoming series incorporate a few items of related outgoing correspondence and, although there is a separate sequence of letters from missionary societies in Europe and North America, letters from representatives of these societies written during the same time period can be found in the other foreign correspondence sequences and the miscellaneous letter sequence.
For researchers interested in correspondence from overseas, where available, the incoming letters and volumes of office copies should be used alongside each other. For searching by date, the office copies are arranged in a single chronological sequence whereas the overseas letters from which the copies were compiled are split amongst three sequences. The volumes include copies of items that are missing from the incoming letter sequences but, equally, the original letter sequences include some items that were not copied into the mission books, for example, where both foreign language items and translations were received, only the translations will be found amongst the office copy volumes.
The correspondence is extensive and broad ranging, recording the evolution of CMS work at home and overseas including the early foundations of the Society's overseas missions and references to the historical and political context in which they developed. It is particularly notable for correspondence with the British Government, with related organisations and CMS associations in the UK and overseas, with individual CMS supporters (and critics) at home and overseas and for the General Secretary's correspondence with bishops. It includes the Society's earliest correspondence with, and about, missionary candidates from the UK; correspondence with and about candidates and missionaries recruited through mission organisations in Europe and elsewhere and intermittent items concerning the welfare of missionaries and their families including, amongst the home letters, correspondence relating to those who retired to the UK. Other items of note are letters relating to literary and translation work and the few personal observations on indigenous peoples and geography.