Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)CMS/W
TitleWomen's Department
Extent8 standard boxes
DescriptionRecords of the Women's Department primarily comprising committee minutes 1895-1932; correspondence in original or precis form 1916-1968, and records of the Department's work with the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society (CEZMS) 1904-1911 and Female Education Society (FES) 1907-1915; also including papers relating to the outfitting of women missionaries, miscellaneous conference papers, reports, and papers on the history of women's work.

The papers do not provide an exhaustive account of women's work in the CMS but rather complement the other Home and Overseas papers, providing additional material for understanding the organisational context in which the women missionaries and missionary wives were working and issues that were of concern to them at the time.
ArrangementThe classification system used for the records of the Women's Department is that used for the majority of the CMS official archives. Each Secretary to a CMS full committee has a department/division at headquarters. These departments have been allocated a reference letter (eg W Women's Department , F Finance Department , H Home Division) and the files of each department divided into groups according to the use which the department gave them, eg A Administration, C Committee work. Where this grouping is very large there are further subdivisions, eg C Correspondence.

The records of the Women's Department are arranged in four series:
/A Administration
/C Committee work
/O Outside organisations
/Z Miscellaneous
Access ConditionsAccess to parts of the collection is restricted. In accordance with Data Protection regulations, records which include personal data are closed for the lifetime of the individual where known, or 100 years. The majority of the original correspondence which comprises letters concerning individual missionaries is currently closed [2008].
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. A paper copy of this catalogue is also available for consultation at Special Collections.
Access StatusOpen
Administrative HistoryIn July 1895 the CMS General Committee approved the formation of a department at Headquarters which was to be in touch with all women's work connected with the Society. The department had two sections, one for work overseas and one for work in the UK, each with its own Ladies' Consultative Committee of voluntary lady workers: the Ladies' Consultative Committee (Home Side) was appointed by the Funds and Home Organisation Committee and the Ladies' Consultative Committee (Foreign) was appointed by the Committee of Correspondence (predecessor to the Foreign Committee). It was intended not to replace existing structures and lines of responsibility, nor to segregate women's and men's work, but to provide additional support and encouragement to single women, missionary wives and women's work. It worked closely with other administrative departments. Source: CMS Intelligencer, December 1895, pp 947-948.

On the Foreign side the work began as personal correspondence with, and counselling of, women missionaries, including 'friendly correspondence' during the missionaries' home leave; it developed into a source of general advice on women's work overseas. A Women's Committee (Foreign) was appointed 12 March 1912; it began by communicating its decisions through the Foreign Secretary to the Group Committees, but from the time of the 1914-1918 War, three of its members participated more directly, attending the meetings and the Group Committees as advisers. From 1926/1927 the Departmental Secretary for Women's Work (Foreign) became a full Secretary of the Society's Foreign Department.

Within the British Isles the aim was to raise support from women for all aspects of missionary work. The Women's Committee (Home) was appointed 27 September 1910 to 'assist the Funds and Home Organisation Committee in developing the general work of women for the CMS' (source: CM Review, December 1912, p 719). There were conferences and meetings and women correspondents were appointed throughout the country who were attached to the new diocesan and archidiaconal associations and whose task was to arouse interest and support. A special effort was made to reach older, educated girls and, in 1902, the Girls Movement was started; the Movement had its 'Own Missionary' and took on Egypt as its 'Own Mission' (Source: Eugene Stock's History of the CMS, volume IV, p 521); publications included 'Terminal Letters' 1896-1923, 'Seed Time' 1899-1907 and 'Girls Movement notes' 1924-1928. The work of the Women's Department in the British Isles had always been under the guidance of the Central [Home] Secretary as Chairman of the Ladies (Home) Consultative Committee; in 1927 the Departmental Secretary for Women's Work (Home) became an Assistant Home Secretary with special responsibility for women's work. In 1949, after the retirement of Mrs E. L. Handley, the work was transferred to the Assistant Home Secretary, Miss Jean Lawrence, who was also responsible for raising support within the British Isles for medical mission work.

Women's Department Secretary:
July 1895-1900 Miss Georgina A. Gollock;
1900-1905 Miss Georgina A. Gollock and Miss Minna C. Gollock (as joint secretaries);
July 1905-1914 Miss Minna C. Gollock (as 'Assistant Secretary for Women's Work')

Departmental Secretary for Women's Work (Foreign):
March 1915-December 1925 Mrs Elaine Thornton (January 1926-December 1933 continued as Foreign Secretary)

Woman Secretary:
September 1942-1964 Miss Agnes Robina (Ena) Price; September 1964-[1967] Miss Mollie A. J. Kluht

Departmental Secretary for Women's Work (Home):
March 1915-December 1925 Miss V. H. Thorold; January 1926-May 1927 Miss K. Whitmore (Assistant Home Secretary (Women's Work) 1927-)

Assistant Home Secretary (Women's Work):
May 1927- August 1940 Miss K. Whitmore; March 1944-1949 Mrs E. L. Handley

Source: Rosemary Keen 'Catalogue of the Papers of the Women's Department'.
Custodial HistoryThe papers listed in this section were received from Miss Price, Woman Secretary 1942-1964 and Women's Candidate Secretary 1936-1946.
Related MaterialMaterial relating to the foreign side of the work can be found in the records of the Foreign Division (CMS/B) and Overseas Division (CMS/OSD). For more about work within the British Isles, see the records of the Home Division (CMS/H) and the General Secretary's Department (CMS/G). Girls Movement publications, including 'Terminal Letters,' 'Seed Time' and 'Girls Movement notes' and other publications relating to women's work, are in the Editorial Department's file set of publications (CMS H/H5). The CMS periodical, 'Church Missionary Intelligencer', includes articles on, and references to, women's work and there is an article on the setting up of the Department in the 'Church Missionary Intelligencer' December 1895, p 947; there is also an article by G. A. Gollock on the 'The Contribution of Women to the home work of the CMS' in the 'Church Missionary Review', December 1912, pp 714-723. References to women's work in the main Society minute books (CMS/G/C 1) can easily be searched using the contemporary indexes (for example, CMS/G/C 1A/16/10). The 'Index of Special Topics' in the CMS Proceedings volumes includes a section specifically on work among women and female education.


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