Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)MS203
TitlePapers of Embrace the Middle East, ecumenical charity, and related organisations
Extent18 boxes (comprising 31 volumes, 52 files and 1734 items)
Thumbnail (Click this image to open a larger image)


DescriptionPapers primarily comprise the records of Embrace the Middle East, previously the Turkish Missions Aid Society, the Bible Lands Society and then BibleLands. Embrace the Middle East is a non-governmental ecumenical charity supporting humanitarian projects primarily, but not exclusively, in Turkey, Syria, Egypt, the Balkans, Lebanon, Palestine, Bulgaria and Cyprus. The papers include records of the Society from its establishment in 1854 to the present day. The records of Embrace the Middle East include minute books from 1854-1958; financial and administrative records including annual reports from 1855-1893, from 1894 onwards these annual reports were included in the Society's magazine 'The Star in the East'; printed publications including 'The Star in the East' from 1883-2012 and 'Embrace' 2013-2015; and a collection of 834 photographs and postcards, largely from the early to mid twentieth century, depicting scenes from Aden, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Egypt, Greece, The Holy Land, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Macedonia and Croatia, Serbia, Sudan, Syria and Turkey.

As the Society's original objective was to support existing mission work with money rather than men, many reports found in 'The Star of the East' were sent from a variety of organisations including the American Board of Commissioners; schools whose teachers were sponsored by the Society of the Promotion of Female Education in the East; and reports from many other British and American led missions, as well as a host of locally founded and led schools, clinics, orphanages and Bible depositories. Reports include information about early famine relief, as well as reports from mission stations during the Balkan Wars of the 1870s. The collection also contains material detailed in 'The Star of the East' relating to the Armenian massacres of the 1890s, the genocide [a term under dispute] of 1915, and evidence of other unrest in modern-day Turkey.

More latterly, there is material relating to the Lebanon Civil War of the 1980s and ongoing conflicts in modern day Israel. The papers also comprise records of associated bodies, including the records of The Lovell Society; records relating to the establishment of the Bulgarian Bible School in the 1930s; records of The Four Homes of Mercy; and records relating to Anatolia College. As a whole, the papers are a rich source of information for the study of missionary work in the Middle East from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day.
NotesTitle supplied from contents of the series.
ArrangementThese papers have been arranged into five sub-fonds. One sub-fonds for the records of Embrace the Middle East; and one sub-fonds each for the records of The Lovell Society, the Bulgarian Bible School, the Four Homes of Mercy, and Anatolia College. Each sub-fonds has been arranged into series largely corresponding with key functions and activities of the Society including: Administrative records; Financial records; and Publications. A fourth series, based on type of material, has also been created: 'Photographs, postcards and related material'.
Access ConditionsAccess to all registered researchers.
Finding AidsA catalogue of this collection is available on the online archive catalogue (last updated May 2015). 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 (last updated October 2014) is also available in the Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections Department.
Access StatusOpen
Physical DescriptionThe bindings of some volumes have become loose. This is indicated at the appropriate file level.
Creator NameEmbrace the Middle East
Administrative HistoryEmbrace the Middle East was founded in 1854 as the Turkish Missions Aid Society and its first President was Lord Shaftesbury. Its original objective was to support American Evangelical missionaries working among the Protestant Armenians of Turkey. From its inception it has been one of the channels for British funds to assist the various educational, religious and relief activities of the American Board of Commissioners, and later other missionary organisations, in the Middle East. The Society has worked in many countries in the Middle East including Turkey, Syria, Egypt, the Balkans, Lebanon, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. Embrace the Middle East currently supports projects in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, Lebanon and Egypt.

Over the years the name of the organisation has changed, from the 'Turkish Missions Aid Society', to the 'Bible Lands Missions Aid Society', to the 'Bible Lands Society', to 'BibleLands' and now 'Embrace the Middle East'. However, the Society's original objective, which was to support existing missions as they tackle poverty and injustice in their communities, with money rather than men, has never changed. For this reason its annual reports and later its magazine (founded in 1893), contain reports from a variety of organisations including many American and British led missions. Currently the Society views itself as an ecumenical charity supporting Christian-led humanitarian projects in the Middle East whose overseas partners provide health, education and community development programmes for disadvantaged people regardless of their faith or nationality. The last change of name in August 2012 has facilitated bringing the work of the charity to the attention of a wider audience in the UK.

This collection also comprises papers related to The Lovell Society; The Bulgarian Bible School; The Four Homes of Mercy; and Anatolia College. Please consult the Admin History field in each of these sub-fonds for further information regarding the establishment and histories of these related bodies.
Custodial HistoryThe records of Embrace the Middle East were kept in the care of the Society Trustees although many of the records were brought together by the depositor, Jean Hatton, during the course of researching her book, 'The Light Bearers', which was published in 2003. A temporary box list was compiled shortly after the records were deposited with the University of Birmingham in 2005, and was used as an interim finding aid for researchers.
AcquisitionAcquired from Embrace the Middle East (then BibleLands) on permanent loan in April 2005 with subsequent deposits of the organisation's own peridiodicals at intervals thereafter.
Archival NotePapers arranged and described by Mark Eccleston, March-April 2010. Sources: records of Embrace the Middle East and related organisations; Jean Hatton, 'The Light Bearers', London: Monarch Books, 2003; BibleLands website ( viewed 30 March 2010; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography website ( viewed 8 April 2010.
CopiesCopies of the periodical, 'Embrace', are available online through the website of Embrace the Middle East at (accessed December 2013).
Related MaterialSpecial Collections hold the records of a number of other missionary societies. These include, amongst others, records of the Church Missionary Society (finding number: CMS); the Church of England Zenana Mission Society (finding number: CEZ); and the Society for Promoting Female Education in China, India and the Far East (finding number: FES). The department also holds a copy of Jean Hatton's book, 'The Light Bearers' (shelfmark: r BV 2370.B7).
Publication NoteJean Hatton's book, 'The Light Bearers', London: Monarch Books, 2003, makes numerous references to Embrace the Middle East papers.