* Adam Matthew Publications. Imaginative publishers of research collections.
News  |  Orders  |  About Us
*   A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z  


Section II: Missions to Women

Part 4: The Indian Female Evangelist, 1881-1893, continued as The Zenana: or, Woman’s Work in India,

            1893-1935, continued as The Zenana: Women’s Work in India and Pakistan, 1936-1956 from

            Interserve, London

Part 5: Minutes of the Zenana, Bible and Medical Mission, 1865-1937 and the Annual Reports of the

            Indian Female Normal School and Instruction Society, 1863-1879 from Interserve, London

Introduction to Section II Part 4

The Indian Female Evangelist was a quarterly periodical published by the Indian Female Normal School and Instruction Society, founded in 1852. In 1880 the Society divided into two parts: one half became the Zenana, Bible and Medical Mission which was interdenominational and the other half became the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society which was Anglican.

The Zenana, Bible and Medical Mission later became the Bible Medical Missionary Fellowship, finally becoming Interserve in 1985. The Church of England Zenana Missionary Society Archive was amalgamated with CMS in 1957.

The issues of The Indian Female Evangelist in Part 4 complement the material in Section II Part 3 which contains the issues of The Indian Female Evangelist, 1872-1880 which are part of the CMS Archive.

Part 4 contains issues for 1881-1956 published by the Zenana, Bible and Medical Mission. Included is The Indian Female Evangelist for January 1881-October 1893 changing its name in November 1893 to The Zenana: or, Woman’s Work in India and from September 1936 to The Zenana: Women’s Work in India and Pakistan.

The Zenana, Bible and Medical Mission had mission stations in India at Ahmedabad, Ahmednagar, Benares, Bombay, Gorakhpur, Jafna, Lahore, Lucknow, Peshawar and Poona and worked with women in the Zenanas, schools and hospitals.

The periodical has a wealth of material on all manner of subjects concerned with women’s work in the missions and at home. There are accounts of the missionary work in the zenanas, schools and hospitals, descriptions of the local scenery, customs and culture, articles on the work carried on in Britain, poetry, prayers and a special section for children. A sample from the contents page for the issue of January 1881 will give an idea of the variety of material to be found: A visit to an Indian Queen by Miss Trott; A Word to the Girls’ School Union; Baptism of Converts; CMS School at Benares; Female Education In India; Hindu Widows; Indian Marriages; List of Meetings; Medical Missions to the Women of India; Notes of My Tour by Mrs Gilmore; Our Mission Letters; Home Chapter; Pages for the Young; Re-Marriage of a Bhatia Widow; Rural Missions; Work among Parsis of Poona.

The Indian Female Evangelist and its successors are an invaluable resource for all those interested in researching Indian history and missionary women’s work in India during the years 1881-1956.

The extracts below give an idea of the breadth of research material to be found in the periodical.

The first is from a report sent by Miss Fuller for the period January to October 1889 at the mission in Lahore:

“During part of this year I have been compelled, through ill-health, to be absent from my post....But there is much to thank God for....One baptism of a young Mohammedan woman, has gladdened our hearts.... In the beginning of the year a second Bible woman, Mary, began her work, which has been attended by a fair measure of success. Her work is chiefly among the poorer and degraded classes of natives in the bazaar....She has, however, also access to many good homes....It is well for the strengthening of our faith to look at the general results and contrast the present with the past. Twelve years ago the people in the city ran way from the sight of a Christian. Now, we cannot, for lack of time and strength, visit the houses where they beg us to teach. Then, scarcely a girl knew how to read except a very few in Government schoools. Now our own Society has 270 girls in school and I suppose many hundreds have left, able to read”.

A list attached to the report gives the statistics: Bible women - 2, zenanas visited - 50, Pupils - 70, Schools - 10 and Pupils - 270.

The issue for November 1893 has a section entitled “In the Zenanas” sent by Miss Horton in Lucknow and describes her work in the zenanas:

“A widow wished to hear the Bible-reading in our house today; she sat outside the doorway in the courtyard. I asked her to come in, but she would not, lest by any chance we might touch her; she had bathed but not performed her poojah, nor eaten her rice - therefore, could not touch anyone. Poor thing! Would that she could believe that it is from the heart, and not from the outside. that true defilement comes. We tried to show her this, but she shook her head, saying it was very well for us, but not for them.

In another house, where they make native sweetmeats, the mother brought me some in a dried leaf, but when I put out my hand to take them, she quickly drew them back; she was afraid I should touch her; finally I had to hold my two hands together, and she dropped the leaf into them from about a foot above. We are daily seeing how much there is to be broken down and removed before the Gospel light can shine in their hearts....

It is long since my heart has been so touched in seeing the condition of widows as it was this morning. It was one of our newly-opened houses. On entering the Zenana I saw a very handsome, but most miserable woman standing alone there. It seems she is the sister of the bow we go to teach and the contrast is very striking. The bow is plump, pretty, nicely dressed, with good jewellery; she is learning to make slippers for her husband. The widow, of course, had no ornaments, and wore a simple white sari, not too clean. I asked her about herself; she told me her husband died six years ago and she has had three children, but they have all died. Her face looked bitter and sad as she said. “It is my hard fate”. I asked her if she would not learn to do fancy work also. She only sighed and my teacher explained that she comes from a place where the rules concerning widows are kept much more strictly than here; so that she may learn nothing, and do nothing. except cooking and household work for the family. Poor thing! my heart ached for her, and I longed to be able to cheer her by teaching her to know and love our Saviour....”

In the same issue Miss Mackinnon reporting on the medical work taking place in Patna in 1893 gives a vivid description of the local wedding celebrations:

“We have to record a large and regular attendance at the Dispensary during the past year. The numbers fluctuate, for reasons obvious to those who have lived in India. In February, the marriage month here, our Dispensary attendances were at the lowest....Here, night after night in the marriage season we were awakened by the tom-toms and native music and rose to see the Bazaar all alight with torches, and a large and curious procession formed of men, boys, elephants, horses, all gay with tinsel and coloured rags thronging the street. Near the end of the procession, seated on some wonderful erection, came the tiny bridegroom in gay-coloured and much-tinselled garments. The women, though they take no part in the procession, are up all night and so are unable to come to the Dispensary the folllowing day....This year our house-to-house work has not increased; I have tried to keep it down and encourage people to come and live near, or to come to me as much as possible. Even now much of our time is spent driving great distances in this long city. Our little hospital with its one bed goes on as last year. We have rented another larger house and hope now to take in more patients.... Since opening in November 1892 we have had 3,082 new patients, 10,156 attendances at the Dispensary, 12 patients in Hospital, 11 major operations, 81 minor operations, and have paid 304 visits to patients in their own homes...”.

The following extract entitled “Jottings from the Mission Field - A Visit to a Segregation Camp” from Miss E Richardson at the Girl’s High School in Bombay is from the July 1899 issue and describes in vivid detail the funeral customs:

“I have had such a novel experience this afternoon, that I thought I woud tell you something about it. You know the plague is raging in Bombay now and the mortality worse than it has been in the previous years; as many as 250 deaths on one day from plague only- 1,000 more deaths in one week than ever before, At first the funerals made me feel wretched and even now they make me sad. There are the Parsees all clothed in white, the mourners, the bearers and the corpse, going to their ghastly towers of silence, while the vultures are watching from the tall palm trees near, ready to tear their dead to pieces and then devour them. Or the Hindus. with their bright reds and orange and gay flowers, to deck their corpse, which lies with uncovered face on a light litter, carried by about eight men. Quite a number of men surround the litter as they go along singing. or rather chanting some native song, or playing a drum or tum-tum.

The Mahommedan funerals are the most reverential, they have no singing or noise so far as I have seen; the men just trudge along quietly and no one may pass the corpse until he has carried the pole on his shoulder a little while to show respect to the dead.

The Government have made a rule that if a case of plague occurs in any house, everyone must turn out, and the house be disinfected. To provide rooms for all the people thus made homeless, the Government have built what are called Segregation Camps in open spaces and to these the people are sent for ten days”.



* * *
* * *

* *© 2024 Adam Matthew Digital Ltd. All Rights Reserved.