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CHURCH MISSIONARY SOCIETY ARCHIVE

General Guide and Introduction to the Archive

EXAMPLE OF SEARCHES FOR MISSIONARIES

1. Suppose you are doing research on Charles Frederick Warren who worked in Japan.

First look in the Register of Missionaries. As he was a clergyman he will be in List 1. The information in the Register gives you his age in the year he was accepted; where he was domiciled at the time he applied to the Society; where he was educated; dates of his ordination; date when he sailed and to which place (1864, Hong Kong, China); where he was stationed, with dates (notice that he came home from China in 1868 and held a curacy in England before being transferred in 1873 to Japan, as first CMS missionary in Osaka); dates of his furloughs i.e. return on leave to England or elsewhere; date of his leaving the Society's service and whether he retired or resigned etc.; the entry may include clerical posts held after his leaving CMS, but in this instance he died in Japan while still working; note of his relationship to any other CMS missionaries; date of marriage(s) and name(s) of wife; details of any of his publications and his translation work; date of death.

This information will show you which mission series you will be working on: in this case China 1864-1868 and Japan 1873-1899.

Now you can look at the catalogue for the China mission series where you will find that there are 63 items in his entry comprising fifty letters 1865-68, ten journals 1864-1868 and three Annual Letters 1865-67 (reference C CH/O 90/1-63). The entry in the catalogue lists him as Hong Kong because that was the place from whence he wrote his letters. Often this place is also his official mission station, but this cannot be assumed to be so. His official mission station is the one under which his name is listed in the Society's "Proceedings" or Annual Reports. If you do not know the exact location of the station you can find it in the Missionary Atlas, which has maps of all the mission areas showing the places at which CMS had work (as well as the stations of other Protestant missionary societies).The letters that Warren wrote (/1-50) would all have been seen and sent on to London by the mission secretary so it is probable that there may be letters about him in the secretary's correspondence as well as references to him in the papers of other missionaries stationed in Hong Kong. If the mission secretary was writing about him to the Secretaries in London then it is highly probable that there will be letters about him in the series of outgoing letter-books which contain the letters from London to China (C CH/L). These letter-books have a name index of correspondents but obviously the index does not include people who are mentioned in the letters. There may also be letters to him in the Individual Letter-books series written from London and containing private and confidential letters to the individual missionary, usually of condolence or censure (C CH/I). The journals (/51-60) comprise his diary kept from the time he left England. Copies or extracts were to be sent quarterly to London and describe, often in great detail, everything that the writer did, including everything that he saw. Extracts from these journals were often used in the Society's printed reports and journals, including the "Proceedings" and as the originals were not always returned for filing it is worthwhile checking in the publications for missing material. The Annual Letters (/61-63) are the annual private reports made by missionaries directly to the Secretaries in London. As the originals do not always survive it would be worth checking in the mission books series (/M) which include a set of copies of the Annual Letters for each year. There might also be extracts published in either the "Proceedings" or the C M Gleaner.

To work on the material for Warren during his time in Japan start with the Japan catalogue. Here you will find 48 items covering his time at Osaka from 1874-1880 (reference CJ/O 16/1-48) comprising 30 letters 1873-1880 (/1-30), journal extracts 1875-1879 (/31-36), Annual Letters for 1874-79 (/37-42) and six other miscellaneous items including an account of a tour beyond the treaty limits in 1875. These papers are similar to those described in the China catalogue. But you know from the entry in the Register of Missionaries that Warren continued to work until 1899.
For the period after 1880 you will be working on the 1880-1934 archive series for Japan, when it was allocated to the Group 1 (East Asia) Committee in London (reference G1J). In this series the letter-books continue in the same way as before and letters to Warren will therefore be indexed in the volumes. The original incoming letters from Japan are filed year by year in the chronological order in which they were received at headquarters, each item being given a number, and therefore the easiest way to find the item numbers for Warren's own letters is to work your way through the précis book. This contains the summarised entries in numerical order and as they are printed (later typed) they can be quickly scanned. As before there will be references to him in other people's letters as well as items about him in the local conference and committee minutes. Such matters as change of work or station had to be approved by the local committees. In the précis books themselves you will note that some of the items are marked "M" for "missing". This has been done by the archivist and indicates that that item is not in the packet of papers for that year in the Japan mission series. Where possible the archive reference for its present whereabouts is entered e.g. papers used for the Centenary Review Committee are now in the General Secretary's department's papers.

Where there is no clue as to the present whereabouts it is often because the item was in some way connected with finance and unfortunately the Finance department to which the item was transferred did not preserve routine correspondence on financial matters.

In order to find out more about Warren before he was accepted by CMS as a missionary you need to consult the Register of Candidates which is in the records of the Candidates department (C/ATm 5). This is a series of volumes which contain entries for every person applying as a missionary. The entries are numbered and give the name, address and occupation of each candidate, names of referees, dates when seen by the committee and proceedings. They begin in 1850 and run through to 1940. The address will be the one from which he wrote the application, not necessarily his home address; the names of the referees will give further clues to his background. The dates on which he was interviewed by the committee enable you to find which volume of the committee minutes to search. There is also a series of correspondence from 1846-1865 (C/AC 1) containing letters from candidates and referees, as well as candidates' "answers to questions" which were their application forms. For the period before 1846 this correspondence will be found incorporated in the massive series of correspondence within the British Isles (G/AC3).

Had Warren lived to retirement any letters that he wrote then to headquarters would have been entered in the General Secretary's department's papers. There is a very large series of incoming letters 1872-1901 (G/AC4) which has now been indexed by names, places and some subjects. This includes letters from retired missionaries, members of committees and others concerned with affairs within the British Isles as well as some correspondence within the British Isles about overseas affairs. Note that correspondence between Warren and headquarters while he was in England on furlough would normally be entered in the British Isles series of papers and not in the overseas correspondence (in his case the Japan mission series). The entries in the Register of Missionaries giving the furlough dates will give the clue as to which series to search.

When Warren died there would have been obituaries in the C M Gleaner and the C M Intelligencer. Had he died after retirement in the British Isles the letters reporting his death would have been in the G/AC 4 series and the letters of condolence would have been in the outgoing letter-books (G/AC 2).

There remains one other source of information about Warren which needs to be used in conjunction with the series described above. This is the card index of names.

There are several cards for Warren; two give the references for the main material in the China and Japan mission series, but usefully include references which occur in the catalogue in other than the main collection of his papers e.g. CJ/O 16 are the papers for his work in Osaka but there is also a reference to him in CJ/O 1/1E which is a paper that he read at a conference of CMS missionaries in 1878; another card gives the exact references for the G/AC 4 letters series referred to above; there is a reference to material in the General Secretary's department for 1895-96 (G/Y/J 1/2); details of the date and page numbers for his obituaries in the C M Intelligencer and C M Gleaner ; some correspondence about a Warren Memorial in the 1930s (Q/J/A 3); some photographs of Osaka taken by him in 1875-77 (Z 15); an article on a pedestrian tour in Japan published in the C M Intelligencer 1876 p 272 and some references in the minutes of the Female Education Society (FES/AM 4,5).

From this it will be seen that the name index is valuable, but it is not a good tool with which to begin your research. You need to know how the archive series works and to have done your background study first in order to make the best use of it.

2. Suppose that you want to find out about Julia Emily Sass, a woman missionary who worked in Sierra Leone.

First look in the Register of Missionaries. The women are in List II. The information in the Register gives the place where she was domiciled at the time she applied to the Society; very occasionally it gives her place of birth and educational qualifications; date when she sailed and to which place (Kissey, Sierra Leone); dates of furloughs i.e. return on leave to England or elsewhere; date of leaving the Society's service and whether she retired or resigned etc.; note of relationship to any other CMS missionaries; date of death.

This information will show you which mission series you will be working on: in this case Sierra Leone; and the period you need: 1848-1891. Now you can look at the catalogue for the Sierra Leone mission series. The main entry in the catalogue for Miss Sass (C A 1/O 187/1-89) shows that there are 70 letters from her to the Secretaries in London (/1-70), a letter to Mr Jones (/71), a letter to the bishop (/72) and her quarterly and half-yearly reports (/73-89). The catalogue shows her as superintendent of the Female Institution, Freetown and in this instance Freetown was her official mission station. Note that sometimes the place listed in the catalogue is only the place from whence the letters and papers were written i.e. the missionary might be away on sick leave or attending a conference etc. (Her official mission station is the one under which her name is listed in the Society's Proceedings (or Annual Report) ). The letters that she wrote (/1-70) would all have been seen and sent on to London by the mission secretary so you could expect to find references to her in the secretary's correspondence (/O 3) as well as references to her in the papers of other missionaries stationed in Freetown. There will also be letters to her and about her in the main series of letter-books in the Sierra Leone series (/L 4-8). These letter-books have a name index of correspondents but obviously the index does not include people who are mentioned in the letters. There may also be letters to her in the Individual Letter-books series written from London and containing private and confidential letters to the individual missionary, usually of condolence or censure (/I 1). There are also bundles of papers on educational and other matters relating to the organisation of local mission affairs which may shed light on her work.

For the period after 1880 you will need to work on the 1880-1934 archive series for Sierra Leone, when it was allocated to the Group 3 (Africa) Committee in London (reference G 3/A 1). In this series the letter-books (/L) continue in the same way as before and letters to Miss Sass will therefore be indexed in the volumes. The original incoming letters from Sierra Leone are filed year by year in the chronological order in which they were received at headquarters, each item being given a number, and therefore the easiest way to find the item numbers for Miss Sass's own letters is to work your way through the précis book (/P). This contains the summarised entries in numerical order and as they are printed (later typed) they can be quickly scanned. As before there will be references to her in other people's letters as well as items about her in the local conference and committee minutes. Such matters as change of work or station had to be approved by the local committees.

If you need to find the whereabouts of the mission station you should find it in the Missionary Atlas, which contains maps of all the mission areas showing the places at which CMS had work ( and also the stations for other Protestant missionary societies). In the précis books themselves you will note that some of the items are marked "M" for "missing". This has been done by the archivist and indicates that that item is not in the packet of papers for that year in the Sierra Leone mission series. Where possible the archive reference for its present whereabouts is entered e.g. papers used for the Centenary Review Committee are now in the General Secretary's department's papers. Where there is no clue as to the present whereabouts it is often because the item was in some way connected with finance and unfortunately the Finance department to which the item was transferred did not preserve routine correspondence on financial matters.

In comparison with the documentation for male missionary candidates the information for women is sparse and scattered. In order to find out more about Miss Sass before she was accepted by CMS as a missionary you need to consult the series of correspondence from 1846-1865 (C/AC 1) containing letters from candidates and referees, as well as candidates' "answers to questions" which were their application forms.

For the period before 1846 this correspondence will be found incorporated in the massive series of correspondence within the British Isles (G/AC 3). It is also well worthwhile searching the outgoing series of letter-books for correspondence within the British Isles (G/AC 1) which often contains letters mentioning possible women missionaries. Bear in mind that before the 1890s CMS sent very few single women as missionaries and that in this respect the surviving archives of the Female Education Society (FES) and the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society (CEZMS) are far more fruitful. The CMS Register of Candidates for women which is in the records of the Candidates Department (C/ATw 5) does not begin until 1905 when the department was set up.

After her retirement any letters that Miss Sass wrote to headquarters would have been entered in the General Secretary's department's papers. There is a very large series of incoming letters 1872-1901 (G/AC 4) which has now been indexed by names, places and some subjects. This includes letters from retired missionaries, members of committees and others concerned with affairs within the British Isles as well as some correspondence within the British Isles about overseas affairs. Note that correspondence between Miss Sass and headquarters while she was in England on furlough would normally be entered in the British Isles series of papers and not in the overseas correspondence (in her case the Sierra Leone mission series). The entries in the Register of Missionaries giving the furlough dates will give the clue as to which series to search.

When Miss Sass died there would have been obituaries in the C M Gleaner and the C M Intelligencer. As she died after retirement in the British Isles the letters reporting her death would be in the G/AC 4 series and the letters of condolence would be in the outgoing letter-books (G/AC 2).

There remains one other source of information about Miss Sass which needs to be used in conjunction with the series described above. This is the card index of names.

The cards for Miss Sass, in addition to references already given in this example, reveal that there are several letters from her while in England in the 1840's to 1861, three of them giving her address (Ravenstone 1854; Orton Longueville 1861) (G/AC 3 series). In the General Secretary's department's papers there are also letters concerning the proposed extension of the schoolroom at the Female Institution at Freetown and the proposal that it should change its name to the Annie Walsh Girls' School, together with a plan 1877 (G/Y/A3/1/4M; there are also references to her in the minute books of the Female Education Society (FES/AM 2, 3, 5) and an obituary notice for her in the C M Gleaner (1891 p 195).

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