Papers of Joseph H. Oldham and Betty Gibson

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection contains: papers on the Basel Mission; papers on German speaking missions; correspondence between Oldham and Gibson; and papers on churches in Africa, Portugal and Portuguese Africa collected by Betty Gibson.

Administrative / Biographical History

Joseph Houldsworth Oldham was a pioneer in ecumenical mission work. He was born in 1874 of Scottish parents in India. After a short trip to India in 1897 (where he married Mary Fraser in 1898) he returned to study theology at New College in Edinburgh in 1901. He was the organising secretary for the 1910 World Missionary Conference, held in Edinburgh. In 1912, Oldham founded the International Review of Missions, which became the most prominent missionary periodical in the world. In 1921, he founded the International Missionary Council.

With his secretary, Betty Gibson, he travelled widely, particularly to Africa, where he was concerned with the colonial administration of the continent and education work. Oldham was interested in the promotion of African culture and languages, establishing a committee on Native Education in Tropical Africa and securing funds for the International Institute of African Languages and Cultures.

Oldham's efforts to promote the role of the laity and to encourage the co-operation of religious and secular groups was to lead to the establishment of the World Council of Churches. In the Second World War, he encouraged debates on lay responsibility in society, working with John Baillie and T.S Eliot. After retirement from public life, Oldham continued to research and write, particularly about Africa. He died in 1969 in Sussex.

Betty Gibson worked for the International Missionary Council, and was a secretary and administrator for the organisation and Oldham himself. She joined the staff of Oldham's Continuation Committee in 1916, making several trips overseas and keeping in close contact with Oldham throughout.

Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers. It is essential to arrange an appointment in advance to view the archive in order that someone can be available to help. Please contact us by email at divinity-CSWC@ed.ac.uk. Telephone the Centre on: 0131 650 8900. Postal address: Centre for the Study of World Christianity, University of Edinburgh School of Divinity, New College, Mound Place, Edinburgh, EH1 2LX.

Other Finding Aids

A paper catalogue in available to researchers in the Centre.

Archivist's Note

Collection arranged, catalogued and described by Caroline Brown in May 2001. Description added to and adapted for Archives Hub by Louise Williams in August 2012.

Conditions Governing Use

Reproduction of materials (for example by digital camera) is free for private research and educational use, although we ask researchers to sign an agreement. Please contact us for enquiries on using the material in a commercial setting, for which there will be a fee. Contact us by email at divinity-CSWC@ed.ac.uk. Telephone the Centre on: 0131 650 8900. Postal address: Centre for the Study of World Christianity, University of Edinburgh School of Divinity, New College, Mound Place, Edinburgh, EH1 2LX.

Accruals

No further additions to the collection are expected.

Related Material

New College Library, School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh (GB0237), holds papers related to Joseph Oldham and Betty Gibson (MSS OLD; MSS 5026-5027; MSS BOX 25.3.3; MSS GIBS). Papers related to Oldham and Gibson can also be found in the Neil Bernard Collection held by the Centre for the Study of World Christianity (GB3189 CSCNWW 46).

Geographical Names