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Section I: East Asia Missions

Parts 4 to 9: Church of England Zenana Missionary Society, 1880-1957

Supporting Comments

Missionary Archives are recognised as a vitally important area of research and the CMS Archive is a particularly rich source, facilitating study in a wide range of disciplines. It offers opportunities for in-depth research into Area Studies, Imperial History, Religious Studies, Education, Medicine, Slavery Studies, Women's Studies, Social History and Sociology.

The following comments by scholars with a wide range of research interests support this statement.

"The CMS Archive provides a rich repository of source materials on South Asian history and culture. Missionaries and their Indian subordinates were active among most classes in the population, especially the élites and lower castes and classes. They therefore provide evidence and comment on a wide range of issues, including matters outside the purview and experience of Government officers and either overlooked or ignored in official correspondence.

It is impossible to write a satisfactory history of indigo planting in Bengal, an account of slavery in nineteenth century Kerala, or the history of dalit (untouchable) movements in the same region without reference to these materials.

The CMS missionaries had much to say about landlord/tenant relations and social issues such as caste and Hindu forms of marriage, not to mention intellectual, religious and political movements which took place during the colonial period. Furthermore, when used critically and in the same way as other collections of source material, these holdings provide insights into many other issues of importance in contemporary scholarly debate. Not the least of these are questions relating to the Hindu/Christian encounter, the phenomenon and nature of religious conversion movements, aspects
of famine, pestilence and disease, developments in health care and medicine, women's issues (including the rise of the women's missionary movement from Britain), European knowledge and representation of India, and the role of missionaries in the construction of 'Hinduism'.

Scholars with integrity, who believe that all of the evidence should be taken into account, can hardly afford to ignore missionary sources such as these. The material when used in the usual critical fashion not only tells us a great deal about the history and culture of the different countries and peoples involved, but is also a mirror of the missionaries themselves - men and women who had considerable influence in moulding European attitudes towards 'the other' ".

Dr Geoffrey Oddie
Department of History, University of Sydney

"I am tremendously excited about the publication of the CMS Archive. Scholars interested in the religious, social and women's history of Great Britain as well as its colonies will find it invaluable".

Dr Susan Thorne

Department of History, Duke University

"This collection will be invaluable to scholars interested in the ideological and material culture of Western mission movements in the modern period".

Dr Antoinette Burton

The Women's Studies Program, Johns Hopkins University

“It is truly exciting news that the CMS Archive is now available on microfilm. The letters and papers of the China Mission provide another window to Chinese modern history, a rich source not only on the missionary movement”.

Dr Ng Chin-keong

Associate Professor of Chinese History, National University of Singapore

“The CMS Archive is one of the richest available sources for scholars concerned with the role of religion in the interaction between the Western and non-Western worlds in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries”.

Dr Brian Stanley

Director of the North Atlantic, Missiology Project, Cambridge University

“The CMS Archive is among the most heavily-used of our special collections, with over a hundred researchers consulting it each year. I am delighted that it is now to be made available on microfilm”.

Christine Penney

University Archivist, University of Birmingham Library

“The archives of the Church Missionary Society’s Africa missions are among the most important documentary sources on 19th century European missionary enterprise in Africa. They tell us much about African social history and thought during this period, and about the aspirations and prejudices of Victorian and Edwardian expansion. Their publication in microfilm will ensure that this material is for the first time placed within reach of a wide community of scholars. And as a timely measure in conservation it guarantees that this valuable material, some of it nearly two hundred years old, will be preserved using up-to-date techniques”.

Ike Achebe

Trinity College, University of Cambridge

“The private letters, travel accounts. personal diaries and journals, including the “official” annual and intelligence reports, painstakingly compiled by the CMS agents to Africa, are invaluable materials for constructing the political, socio-cultural and religious evolution of numerous African societies”.

Dr Waibinte Wariboko

Department of History, The University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica

“The history of mission churches in Africa has become one of the hottest topics in African Studies. After many decades of ignoring missionaries, anthropologists now regard their interaction with Africans as a key subject of research. Multi-volume studies are afoot about missionaries in southern and west Africa, and their different emphases and interpretations are generating one of the most important debates in Africanist anthropology. Social historians are interested in the missionary “creation” - in alliance with their first converts - of written languages, ethnic and gender identities, sacred landscapes, medical systems. Debate about the relative importance of missionary innovation and African agency has become a prime area of historiographical combat”.

Dr Terry Ranger

St Antony’s College, University of Oxford

“No serious scholar can research the history of the church in the Caribbean and not pay attention to the rich resources of the archive of the Church Missionary Society that deal with this region. If this attention is not given, such an historian will fail to do justice to that history. Apart from the outstanding work they did there, the fact that they were evangelical Anglicans adds a crucial dimension to the story of the Anglican Church in the Caribbean”.

Rev Cawley Bolt

United Theological College of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica

“In the absence of oral testimonies, the richness of personal accounts of CMS missionaries brings us close to the lives of the enslaved and the colonised in the West Indies and are indispensable source materials”.

Professor Carl Campbell

Department of History, The University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica



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