Christian Literature Society for India

Scope and Content

Records, 1858-1950, of the Christian Vernacular Education Society (CVES) for India, from 1891 the Christian Literature Society (CLS) for India (and Africa from 1923), comprising minutes, 1864-1935 (Ref: USCL 232-250); copies of outgoing letters, 1859-1931 (Ref: USCL 251-306); correspondence of the CVES, 1858-1862 (Ref: USCL Add 27-31), and CLSI, 1892-1900 (Ref: USCL Add 32-3); press cuttings on its work, 1858-1871 (Ref: USCL 308-10); annual reports, 1859-1928 (many gaps) (Ref: USCL 358-365, USCL Add 35); Baptist Missionary Society minutes, 1859, relating to a CVES letter concerning scholarships for theological students (Ref: USCL Add 8); minutes of the Society for Promoting Female Education in the East, 1859 (Ref: USCL Add 9); papers on the CVES/CLSI Madras depot, 1873-1910 (Ref: USCL Add 10); document on CLSI mergers in Madras and Calcutta, 1922-1924 (Ref: USCL Add 12-13); Calcutta Christian Tract and Book Society annual report, 1922-1923 (Ref: USCL Add 36); draft deeds and correspondence concerning CLSI premises in Madras, 1930 (Ref: USCL Add 14); miscellaneous papers of the Madras branch, c1900-1950 (Ref: USCL 307).

Administrative / Biographical History

Towards the end of 1857 representatives of four British missionary societies working in India - the Baptist Missionary Society, the Church Missionary Society, the London Missionary Society and the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society - put forward proposals for a new society, to be named the Christian Vernacular Education Society for India. The proposers did not, according to its First Annual Report, intend the new society to compete with 'existing educational establishments which employ the English language and literature and which are chiefly attractive to the higher classes of Hindu youth ... but rather to reach the village populations, and the masses of the lower orders in towns throughout the country, exclusively through the vernacular of each district'. The new society was formally instituted in May 1858 as a memorial to the Indian Mutiny. John Murdoch was appointed 'Representative and Travelling Secretary in India'. In 1891 the name of the Society was changed to the Christian Literature Society for India and in 1923 the words 'and Africa' were added when the Society extended its work to that continent. The organisation merged with the Religious Tract Society in 1935 to form the United Society for Christian Literature (USCL).

For further information see:

G Hewitt, Let the people read (London, 1949)

Access Information

Records which have been microfilmed may be viewed on microfiche only. Other original material may be viewed if it is in good condition.


Acquisition Information

The surviving records of the UCSL and its predecessors to 1953 were deposited in the Library of the School of Oriental and African Studies in 1982. A second deposit of additional papers was made in 1988 (UCSL Add).

Other Finding Aids

Handlist available

Conditions Governing Use

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

Copyright held by United Society For Christian Literature