Records of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society

Scope and Content

Records of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society, 1880-1968, comprising minutes of the General Committee, 1880-1968, Executive Committee, 1898-1957, Candidates Committee, 1882-1957, Finance Committee, 1881-1957, Home Organisation Committee, 1896-1957 and other Committees and Sub-Committees; rolls and registers of missionaries, 1880-1957; correspondence and administrative papers of the Society's Secretaries; financial records; legal records; publications including annual reports, periodicals and newsletters, printed leaflets and booklets reports of missions, and books written by missionaries; photographs of officers and missionaries. The collection also includes copies of some issues of The Indian Female Evangelist , published by the Indian Female Normal School and Instruction Society, 1872-1880.

The archives have suffered badly from numerous changes of headquarters and also from severe flood damage during the Second World War. The correspondence with the missions overseas survives only from 1921. This loss can be partly compensated by the use of the printed reports, periodical and other publications. The publications, other than the Annual Reports are very largely incomplete.

Administrative / Biographical History

Administrative/Biographical History

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 ).


The archives have been listed in four sections or sub-fonds, corresponding to the departments of the four Secretaries in charge in 1952 when the Society gave up its separate office and moved its headquarters and Home to Cromwell House. These comprised the Clerical Secretary's Department (GB 0150 CEZ/G); the Foreign and Candidates Secretary's Department (GB 150 CEZ/C); the Financial Secretary's Department (GB 150 CEZ/F); and the Home Organisations Secretary's Department (GB 150 CEZ/H). At that time the Publication Committee and House (Home and Depot) Committee were wound up. By 1953 the Foreign and Home Departments were combined under Miss Winifred Chapman.

Access Information

Access Conditions

Open. Access to all registered researchers.

Acquisition Information

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The archives of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society passed into the custody of the Church Missionary Society on the amalgamation of the two societies.

Other Finding Aids

Please see full catalogue for more information.

Alternative Form Available

Existence of Copies

The periodicals in this archive have been micropublished by Adam Matthew Publications in 1997 as part of major project for the micropublication of the Church Missionary Society archive. The following titles are therefore available on microfilm: India's Women and China's Daughters 1880-1939, renamed Looking East at India's Women and China's Daughters , 1950-1957; Homes of the East , 1910-1948 (which incorporates Torchbearer , a quarterly illustrated paper for children); Daybreak , 1889 and 1893-1894 (incomplete, a quarterly periodical begun in 1885 as a magazine for young girls published by the Daybreak Workers' Union which was part of the CEZMS; The Indian Female Evangelist , 1872-1880 (incomplete, a quarterly periodical published by the Indian Female Normal School and Instruction Society).

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the University Archivist, Special Collections. Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Special Collections will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Related Material

University of Birmingham Information Services, Special Collections Department holds the following collections: Church Mission Society (GB 150 CMS) archives as the two Societies worked very closely together, even sharing a Candidates Committee. For work in the British Isles the periodical India's Women together with the Annual Reports provide a rich and vital source of information. Records of local associations and auxiliary societies, which were founded to support the work of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society, can be found in the collection of the Church Missionary Society Unofficial Papers (GB 150 CMS/ACC). These include the following: (GB 150 CMS/ACC304): Birmingham Diocesan Auxiliary: minutes, 1924-1957; (GB 150 CMS/ACC309): Southport Association: minutes, 1896-1958; (GB 0150 CMS/ACC342): Manchester Association: financial records, 1948-1961. Personal papers of some CEZMS missionaries can also be found in the collection of the Unofficial Accessions of the Church Mission Society (GB 150 CMS/ACC). These include the following: (GB 150 CMS/ACC204): Photograph album of Miss M. E. Kirby, CEZMS missionary in China, 1898-1906 (GB 150 CMS/ACC256): Photograph albums of unidentified CEZMS missionaries, c 1900; (GB 150 CMS/ACC292): Letters and photographs of Miss Emilie Stroelin, CEZMS missionary in Meerut (Mirat), India 1881-1904; (GB 150 CMS/ACC341: Papers of Miss Kathleen Sophia Loader (1875-1945), CEZMS missionary, Fukien, China 1901-1945

The British Library holds some copies missing from the various series surviving in the archives. These include: Homes of the East 1904-1909; Review of the Year 1927/28, 1938-1951; Daybreak 1886-1887, 1890-Apr 1892, 1894-1905, 1910-Jul 1914 Torchbearer Oct 1911-1914.