The official archives of the Church Missionary Society comprise the records of the administrative departments at the Society's headquarters, principally the General Secretary's, Finance, Medical, Candidates and Women's Departments, and the records of its Overseas Missions.
The archives of the administrative departments include Committee and Sub-Committee minutes, administrative files, incoming and outgoing correspondence, letter books, registers, missionary application papers, ledgers, cash books and other financial records, printed and other materials. These archives relate to the central administration and running of the society, and include for example, records relating to CMS policy and direction, the seeking out and training of missionary candidates, records of the CMS's training institutions and children's homes, papers relating to the welfare of its staff, correspondence with overseas bishops and other missionary societies, papers relating to CMS property, and correspondence with its overseas hospitals and other medical institutions.
The archives of its Overseas Missions include letter books, mission books, original (incoming) papers, prcis books and other records. During the 19th and the early part of the 20th century, the CMS exercised close supervision and control over its missions and, as a result, the records are both extensive and detailed. The mission papers are therefore a rich source for Church and mission history and enterprise. The papers include, for example, the detailed journals and annual letters which the society's missionaries were required to provide as an account of their activities. As the work of the missions embraced not just evangelism but also, for example, education, medical work, language study and translations, and development of local agriculture and industry, these detailed records are a valuable resource for study in a wide range of other research interests including anthropology, politics, slavery, geography and travel, and women's studies.
The archive also includes sets of some of the CMS's publications and reports. These include its Register of missionaries (clerical, lay & female) and native clergy from 1804 to 1904 (1905); Proceedings of the Church Missionary Society (incorporating its annual report), 1801-1921/22, the Annual report of the Committee of the Church Missionary Society, 1922/23- ; CMS Annual letters of missionaries, 1886-1912 (printed for private circulation); the CMS Historical Record1919, 1922/23-1945/46 (a typescript record); and Mercy and Truth, 1897-1921 and The Mission Hospital, 1922-1940 (a periodical for the CMS medical mission work)