China Inland Mission (Overseas Missionary Fellowship)

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises material of the China Inland Mission (CIM) including the minutes of the London Council (1872-1951); minutes of the Missio[apos ]s China Council (1886-1947 and 1951); various publications including Chinese Missionary Gleaner, (1853-1859), Chin[apos ]s Millions, (1875-1964), and Chinese Recorder, (1867-1933), and Overseas Missionary Fellowship papers (CIM/OMF) for the post 1950 period. In separate sections are the substantial papers of the mission's founder, James Hudson Taylor (CIM/JHT), which include some records (c.1850-1860) of the Chinese Evangelization Society, and material relating to the Chefoo Schools (CIM/CSP), founded by Hudson Taylor, including registers of pupils and papers of the Chefoo Schools Association. China Inland Mission private papers (CIM/PP) contains a varied selection of information on the lives of individual missionaries. They include the archive of Eric and Edith Liberty in China, the Philippines and Taiwan (1920's-1970); the papers of Miss Hettie Withers, a teacher in the Chefoo Gir[apos ]s School (1920's and 1930's); research papers of Frederick Howard Taylor into Chinese tribes, and the collection of papers by the Missio[apos ]s historian, A.J. Broomhall, for his work Hudson Taylor and Chin[apos ]s Open Century. In addition there is a large photographic collection (CIM/PHOTO) including the official records of the China Inland Mission / Overseas Missionary Fellowship. This includes a series of photographs collected from missionaries in the field concerning medical work and scenes of life in China, Taiwan, Thailand and Tibet.

Administrative / Biographical History

The China Inland Mission was officially set up in 1865 under the direction of Rev. James Hudson Taylor and William Thomas Berger. Refusing to appeal for funds but relying on unsolicited contributions, the goal of the China Inland Mission (CIM) was the interdenominational evangelization of China's inland provinces. Missionaries were to have no guaranteed salary and were expected to become closely involved in the Chinese way of life. The first missionary party, including Taylor, left for China on the Lammermui in May 1866. They reached Shanghai in September, and the first Mission base was established at Hangchow, Chekiang. Between 1866 and 1888, work was concentrated on the coastal provinces.

In 1868 the headquarters moved to Yangchow, which was better situated for beginning work in the interior. From its foundation, William Berger acted as Home Director while Taylor, as General Director, was in charge of the Mission's work in the field. Berge's retirement in 1872 led to administrative changes with the formation of the London Council to deal with home affairs. The role of the London Council was to process applications and send new recruits to China, promote the work of the Mission at home and receive financial contributions. The China Department was headed by the General Director, who was advised by the General Council composed of senior missionaries including the Superintendents of provincial districts. The campaign to find volunteers was led by Taylor. He organised the departure of the popular Cambridge Seven in 1886 and that of the Hundred in 1888. In 1889, he was asked to address the Shanghai Missionary Conference, during which he made an appeal for 1,000 volunteers to join Chinese missions over the next five years. New recruits undertook a definite course of study and examination to become a missionary. Six months initial training covered Chinese language, geography, government, etiquette, religion and the communication of the Gospel. Trainees were then posted to an inland station where they were supervised by a senior missionary. After two years, successful candidates became junior missionaries, and after five years took responsibility for a station. Experienced missionaries were appointed over a number of districts within a province. The China Inland Mission underwent considerable growth and development in the years leading up to 1934, which saw the peak of its activity. In 1866, there were 24 workers at 4 mission stations. By its Jubilee year in 1915, there were 1,063 workers at 227 stations and by 1934, 1,368 workers at 364 stations throughout China. The CIM also reached parts of Manchuria, Mongolia, Tibet and Upper Burma. In 1873 the headquarters of the Mission moved to Shanghai. In 1881 a school was established at Chefoo for the children of missionaries. From its inception, women played a crucial role in the CIM. From 1878, amidst much public criticism, Taylor permitted single women to work in the mission field. By 1882, the CIM listed 56 wives of missionaries and 95 single women engaged in the ministry. The success of the CIM also led to the establishment of Home Councils outside China. By 1950, there were Home Councils in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Eire, Australia (1890), New Zealand (1894), South Africa (1943), Canada and the United States (North American Council established 1888), and Switzerland (1950). Several smaller missionary societies from Scandinavia and Germany also became connected with the CIM as associate missions. The CIM began its work just as China was becoming more open to foreigners, but missionaries still had to overcome considerable hostility. The CIM was particularly badly hit by the massacres of the Boxer Rebellion of 1900. The losses suffered during the Boxer Rebellion affected Taylor's health and he resigned officially in favour of D.E. Hoste in 1903. He died in 1905. In the years following 1934, war and revolution led to a decline in the number of CIM missionaries in China. During the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), missionaries remained at their station where they could, caring for refugees and organising welfare camps. Many were sent to the internment camps in Shanghai and Yangchow. In 1942 the headquarters were evacuated from Shanghai to escape the Japanese army, and temporarily re-located to Chungking. Staff moved back to Shanghai in 1945. At that time the civil war between the Nationalist and Communist forces intensified. Following the Communist victory in 1949 there was mounting suspicion against foreign missionaries, who were labelled as 'imperialist spies'. In 1950 the General Director decided that further work in China was impossible and ordered all CIM missionaries to leave. In 1951 a temporary headquarters was established at Hong Kong to oversee the withdrawal. The last CIM missionaries left China in 1953. The Mission directors met in Australia (Kalorama) to discuss the future of the CIM. Teams were appointed to survey the extent of the need of Chinese nationals outside China, particularly in South East Asia and Japan. At a conference held in Bournemouth, England, in November 1951, it was decided that the Mission should continue its work and missionaries were sent to new fields in Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, Philippines, Indonesia and Taiwan (later Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong). New headquarters were established in Singapore and the name was changed to the China Inland Mission Overseas Missionary Fellowship. At a meeting of the Mission Overseas Council held in October 1964, the name became the Overseas Missionary Fellowship (OMF). This acknowledged the additional need for work amongst non-Chinese nationals in the new fields of work. The structure of the Mission was altered so that non-western Christians could become full members and set up home councils in their own countries.

Home Councils were subsequently established in Japan (1965), Malaysia (1965), Singapore (1965), Hong Kong (1966), Philippines (1966), Germany (1967) and the Netherlands (1967). The General Director remained the head of the Mission, with the Overseas Director responsible for missionary activities in Asia, and Home Directors responsible for OMF activities in their own countries. Work retained a strong emphasis on evangelism, with support for literature programmes, medical services, linguistic work, student work and outreach. The OMF continues its work today. Further reading: Broomhall, A.J., Hudson Taylor and China's Open Century, (London, 7 volumes, 1981-1989); Guinness, G., The Story of the China Inland Mission, (London 1893); Lyall, L. A Passion for the Impossible, (London 1965);


The collection has been arranged into six main sections: China Inland Mission (CIM); Overseas Missionary Fellowship papers (CIM/OMF); James Hudson Taylor papers (CIM/JHT); personal and private papers (of individual missionaries) (CIM/PP); Chefoo Schools and Chefoo Schools Association (CIM/CSP), and China Inland Mission photographs (CIM/PHOTO). Each section is sub-divided, with material arranged in chronological order, or in the case of the personal and private papers, by the names of individual missionaries. China Inland Mission photographs are listed in a separate volume.

Conditions Governing Access


Acquisition Information

Donated 1991-1994

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright with the Overseas Missionary Fellowship


Possibility of accruals