Dr Karl Gutzlaff Collection

Scope and Content

Papers of, and relating to, Dr Karl (Charles) Friedrich August Gutzlaff. The collection comprises the papers of Dr Gutzlaff; the papers of Richard Ball, from 1850 Secretary of the Chinese Association (later known as the Chinese Evangelisation Society); and photocopies of papers held in the China Inland Mission relating to Dr Gutzlaff.

The papers include correspondence, and research notes relating to Gutzlaff's missionary activity in China in the mid-19th century, most especially the activities of the Chinese Union, otherwise known as the Christian Society for Propagating the Gospel and the Chinese Christian Union, which he founded in 1844; the Chinese Association, founded in England in 1850 to support Gutzlaff's Chinese Union, and the endeavours of fellow European missionaries in China and associated regions.

Administrative / Biographical History

Dr Karl (Charles) Frederich August Gutzlaff was born in Pomerania in 1803. He attended Janicke's Mission School in Berlin, 1821-1823, and studied at Berlin University. He then travelled to Holland and joined the Netherlands Missionary Society, 1826-1828. Having spent some time working in the Chinese Diaspora he left the Netherlands Missionary Society to work as an individual missionary in China. In 1844 he established his own Chinese Union at Kwangtung with which he was involved until his death in 1851. Whilst pursuing his missionary work, Gutzlaff was also employed as an official of the British Government, having been appointed in 1834 interpreter for the British Commercial authorities and Chinese Secretary of the Department of Trade. He was also responsible for a programme of Bible translation and printing, rendering Biblical scripture into Chinese and Japanese which he disseminated as part of his missionary work. He also published monographs, and contributed to monthly periodicals.

Reference: University of Birmingham, Special Collections Department, Online Archive Catalogue ( http://calmview.bham.ac.uk/ ). Accessed April 2002.


The collection is arranged according to what is thought to be the original provenance of the material: the papers of Dr Karl Gutzlaff, the papers of Richard Ball, and photocopies of papers held in the China Inland Mission relating to Gutzlaff. Original item numbering has been retained.

Access Information

Open. Access to all bona fide researchers. All papers held at the Orchard Learning Resources Centre will be viewed at the Birmingham University Information Services, Special Collections Department. Please contact the University Archivist for further information.

Acquisition Information

It is not known whether the Ball materials and Gutzlaff's own materials were acquired from the same source, at the same time. The terms of the deposit are also unknown, but both sets of materials were held by Selly Oak Colleges Library in the early 1980s, when they were used by George A. Hood for the purposes of his doctoral research. Initial sorting and numbering was then undertaken by Hood in July 1999. Photocopies of materials relating to Gutzlaff and the Chinese Union in the archive of the Overseas Missionary Fellowship of the China Inland Mission were acquired by Hood during the course of his doctoral research from Dr A. J. Broomhall of the Overseas Missionary Fellowship. Hood presented these to Selly Oak Colleges Library in 1987.

Other Finding Aids

Please see full catalogue for further details.

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.

Custodial History

Following the merger of the Selly Oak Colleges and the University of Birmingham in 1999 the custodial ownership of collections belonging to the Selly Oak Colleges and held at the Orchard Learning and Resource Centre (OLRC) was transferred to the University. These collections now form part of the University's Special Collections Department and are available for consultation at the Main Library on the University's Edgbaston Campus.

Related Material

Associated papers of Gutzlaff may be found in the archives of the China Inland Mission, now known as the Overseas Missionary Fellowship.

The University of Birmingham, Special Collections Department holds a rich collection of archives relating to missions, charities and other religious and ecclesiastical organisations and individuals. These include the official archives of the Church Mission Society (GB 150 CMS), which contain material relating to Dr Gutzlaff .

Location of Originals

The collection contains photocopies of papers held in the China Inland Mission, now known as the Overseas Missionary Fellowship.


The papers were used by George A. Hood in the composition of his publication Mission Accomplished? The English Presbyterian Mission in Lingtung, South China: A Study of the Interplay between Mission Methods and their Historical Context , New York, 1986