Papers of Mabel Shaw

Scope and Content

Miscellaneous papers, 1915-1973, of Mabel Shaw, including her correspondence (1930-1973) and circular letters; personal papers; prayer texts and poems; reports, including Decennial Report on the Women's and Girl's Work in Mbereshi (1930-1940); and miscellaneous photographs from Mbereshi.

Administrative / Biographical History

Mabel Shaw was born in December 1889, at Bilston. She trained at the Women's Missionary College, Edinburgh. In 1915, she was appointed to Mbereshi, Central Africa, with the London Missionary Society, and sailed on 6 March 1915. She was the first single woman missionary to be sent by the London Missionary Society to Central Africa. Her work was chiefly educational, but also evangelistic. She founded the Girl's Boarding School, which later became known as the Livingstone Memorial School in Mbereshi, and which marked a significant new chapter in the education of African girls in Northern Rhodesia. In 1931 she was awarded an OBE in recognition of her missionary work in central Africa. She retired from the London Missionary Society in 1941. In 1942 she was appointed to temporary service with the Church Missionary Society, and sailed once more for Africa on 9 April. She retired from the Church Missionary Society in 1952. She died on 25 April 1973 in Guildford.

Books written by Mabel Shaw included Children of the Chief (LMS Gift Book for 1921); Dawn in Africa (Edinburgh House Press, 1927); God's Candlelights: An Educational Venture in Northern Rhodesia (Edinburgh House Press, 1932); A Treasure of Darkness: An Idyll of African Child Life (Longmans, 1936).


The collection has been arranged into the following sections: correspondence; personal papers; circular letters; addresses; prayer texts, poems and reports etc. Within each section, material is arranged chronologically where possible.

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Donated in 1981.

Other Finding Aids

Unpublished handlist.

Conditions Governing Use

For permission to publish, please contact Archives & Special Collections, SOAS Library in the first instance

Related Material

The School of Oriental and African Studies holds the records of the London Missionary Society (Ref: CWM/LMS), and papers of Margaret Sabin relating to Mbereshi (Ref: MS 380320).