The Church of England Zenana Missionary Society was founded in 1880 when it separated from the interdenominational Indian Female Normal School Society (founded 1852). Its main aim was to evangelise the women of India by means of normal schools (teacher training colleges), zenana visiting, medical missions, Hindu and Muslim female schools and the employment of Bible women. The Society was to work in close co-operation with the Church Missionary Society. In 1957 it amalgamated with CMS. A board of trustees continued to administer the transfer of property and trust funds until 1968.
The overseas work of the society started in India but spread to China in 1884, Japan in 1886 and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in 1889. Work in China ended in 1950 when the missionaries had to leave, but from 1952 they worked amongst the Chinese in Malay. Work in Japan had to be given up in 1892 and it was handed over to CMS. When the Female Education Society (founded 1843) closed down in 1900 CEZMS took over their work in Singapore, though the Singapore School sub-committee (secretary 1904-1912 Lady Gage Brown, 1913 Miss E. Gage Brown) was not fully integrated until 1913.
CEZMS missionaries began teaching in zenanas and day-schools. The chief stations were Trivandrum, Palamcotta (Sarah Tucker College), Masulipatam and Madras in South India, Meerut (handed over to CMS 1893), Jabalpur, Calcutta (Normal School) and Amritsar (Alexandra School) in North India.
Medical work was of great importance. The Society had taken over the work at Amritsar (St. Catherine's hospital) and other hospitals and dispensaries were established in Bhagalpur, Srinagar, Peshawar (Connaught hospital), Batala, Narowal and Tarn Taran. Work was also done by village missions, a central village from which evangelists visited dozens of villages grouped around the centre. The chief places for these in the 1880s were Jandiala, Ajnala, Narowal, Tarn Taran and Nadiya. Industrial work was begun in 1883, with a class at Amritsar. The Indian Widows' Union was set up in England in 1889. English widows raised financial support for Indian widows' industries. It was active from 1889 to 1946/7 and its reports are entered in the Annual Reports (G/E L 1/1). There was also work amongst the deaf and dumb in India (at Palamcotta from 1900, Mylapore from 1914) and amongst the blind in China at Kucheng, and Nantai, Foochow.
Reference: Rosemary A. Keen, Catalogue of the papers of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society (1987).