Missionary Studies

Research Source

A broad selection of missionary collections, representing a global range of Christian missions, churches and denominations.

These primary sources are a hugely important resource for the study of missionary work, educational work, medical work, evangelism, political conflict and the emergence of indigenous churches. The collections are truly global in scope, with Africa, East and South Asia, Australasia and the Pacific, and the Americas all well-represented. The sources will be of interest to scholars in a range of fields, from missiology to colonial history and anthropology.

What collections are included?

African Missions

Papers of the Missions of the United Presbyterian Church from the National Library of Scotland

This collection concentrates on the Africa missions of the United Presbyterian Church of Scotland and contains all incoming letters from missionaries in Africa sent to the UPC Foreign Mission Committee between the years 1874-1928. The letters were sent from different geographical locations within Africa including the Gold Coast, the Eastern Cape, Natal and Nigeria and touch on topics ranging from administrative matters of the organisation to the establishment of new missions.

African Missions, Education and the Road to Independence

The SUM in Nigeria, The Cameroons, Chad, Sudan, and Other African Territories

This collection makes available a vast range of material from the Sudan United Mission’s Archive, held at the Centre for the Study of World Christianity, New College, University of Edinburgh. Found in 1904 by Karl Kumm and Lucy Guinness, the SUM focused its sights on the evangelisation of Greater Sudan and this early period of the organisation’s history is included alongside material which spans the entire length of the SUM’s operation.

Church of Scotland Missionary Archive

From the National Library of Scotland

This collection contains material from the missionary activities of the Church of Scotland across two continents from the years 1829-1933. Letters from missionaries sent to Bombay, Calcutta, Poona and Madras in the early part of the nineteenth-century is included alongside correspondence from those operating in the Punjab, Poona, Darjeeling, Calcutta, Madras and China. Later material touches on the impact of the First World War on missionary activity and the changing attitudes towards British rule in India.

Congo Mission Archives

The Papers of Bishop Ridsdale (1916-2000), Missionary to the Eastern Congo, from the Cambridge Centre for Christianity Worldwide

This collection, comprising of material accumulated by Bishop Philip Ridsdale, covers the history of the Anglican Church in the Congo from 1949 until the death of Ridsdale in 2000. They offer an insight into the development of an Anglican Christian presence in the Congo from the 1950s onwards, including important records of the work of the Church Missionary Society in the region.

Korean Mission Records

Papers of the Korean Mission, 1889-1987, from the University of Birmingham Library

The Korean Mission was set up in 1889 as an Anglican mission agency, funded by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel and various other donations. This collection consists of the records of this Anglican mission from 1889-18=987 and covers the personal experiences of missionaries in Korea during times of hardship, including the Second World War and the Korean War. The records also document the post war development of theological training and the creation of a Korean priesthood, culminating in an autonomous province of Korean within the Anglican Communion in 1993.

Missionary Pamphlets

The Alexander Duff Collection of Missionary Pamphlets

This collection mostly consists of pamphlets which documented the work of the Scottish missionary Alexander Duff (1806-1878) during his work in India, where he spent over twenty years from 1830-1863. Other pamphlets relating to Duff’s broader interest in educational and missionary work in places such as the Middle East and Africa also feature in the collection.

Pacific Island Culture and Society

The Papers of the Reverend George Brown (1835-1917), Methodist Missionary, from the State Library of New South Wales

This collection contains the personal papers and manuscripts of the Reverend George Brown (1825-1917), a missionary and ethnographer who travelled around the Pacific Islands and recorded the cultures of Polynesian and Oceanic indigenous peoples. Material ranges from his personal journals and letter books to photographs that Brown took of those who lived on the islands of New Guinea, New Britain, Fiji, Solomons, Tonga and Samoa from the years c.1890-1905. 

Regions Beyond Missionary Union Archive

Papers of the RBMU concerning the Congo, India, Nepal and Peru from the Centre for the Study of World Christianity, New College, University of Edinburgh

This collection contains the Directors’ minute books and c17,000 letters from missionaries in different regions, books, pamphlets, journals and photographs of the Regions Beyond Missionary Union. It adopted the name ‘Regions Beyond Missionary Union’ in 1899 and throughout its operation had missions in the Congo, India, Borneo and Nepal. The records included in this collection contain information about the socio-economic development, as well as the growth of Christianity in these areas.

Scottish Missionary & Philanthropic Register, 1821-1842

From the Centre for the Study of World Christianity, New College, University of Edinburgh

First published by the Scottish Missionary Society in 1820, the Scottish Missionary and Philanthropic Register includes information about the activities of a wide range of missionary groups in the middle of the nineteenth-century. Published in the same format, each volume provides details of: Home Proceedings in Scotland, Ireland and England, Foreign Intelligence, Activities of other missionary societies and Miscellaneous news.

Women Missionaries

From the National Library of Scotland

Included here are the Papers of the Ladies’ Society for Female Education in India and Africa and the Papers of the Women’s Association for Foreign Missions. Both sets of material contain the letter books of the secretaries and provide an insight into the work and personal lives of women missionaries during their missions.

Women's Missionary Archives

Sources from the Centre for the Study of World Christianity, University of Edinburgh

This collection contains a wide range of material focusing on the work of women missionaries across the globe. The collection is made up mostly of official publications from various missionary organisations including: The Female Missionary Intelligencer, 1862-1877 from the Society for Promoting Female Education in the East, News of the Female Mission of the Church of Scotland, 1862-1922 from the Female Mission of the Church of Scotland, the Women’s Missionary Magazine, 1901-1919 from the United Free Church of Scotland and the Quarterly Zenana Record, 1887-1900.

Scottish Missionary Archives

This collection contains a variety of material pertaining to the missionary work carried out by various missionary organisations and churches in Scotland. The majority of the collection consists of the minutes of the Church of Scotland Foreign Missions Committee from 1900-1964 and detail missionary activity in India, China, Africa, the Middle East and South Pacific and Caribbean Islands. Also included is two official publications of the United Free Church of Scotland and the United Free Church of Scotland Missions in India: The Missionary Record and Conference: Quarterly Papers. These publications aimed to show a wider audience the work that the churches were doing in their respective missions across the globe.

Key Data

Period Covered

  • 19th and 20th centuries

Material Types

  • Organisational records
  • Personal papers
  • Correspondence
  • Journals, travel writing and diaries
  • Photographs
  • Ephemera
  • Artefacts
  • Periodicals
  • Pamphlets