BibleLands, ecumenical charity, and related organisations

Scope and Content

These papers primarily comprise the records of BibleLands, previously the Turkish Missions Aid Society and then the Bible Lands Society. BibleLands is a non-governmental ecumenical charity supporting humanitarian projects primarily, but not exclusively, in Turkey, Syria, Egypt, the Balkans, Lebanon, Palestine, Bulgaria and Cyprus. The papers include records of the Society from its establishment in 1854 to the present day. The records of BibleLands include minute books from 1854-1958; financial and administrative records including annual reports from 1855-1893, from 1894 onwards these annual reports were included in the Society's magazine 'The Star in the East'; printed publications including 'The Star in the East' from 1883-2012; and a collection of 834 photographs and postcards, largely from the early to mid twentieth century, depicting scenes from Aden, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Egypt, Greece, The Holy Land, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Macedonia and Croatia, Serbia, Sudan, Syria and Turkey.

As the society's original objective was to support existing mission work with money rather than men, many reports found in 'The Star of the East' were sent from a variety of organisations including the American Board of Commissioners; schools whose teachers were sponsored by the Society of the Promotion of Female Education in the East; and reports from many other British and American led missions, as well as a host of locally founded and led schools, clinics, orphanages and Bible depositories. They include information about early famine relief, as well as reports from mission stations during the Balkan Wars of the 1870s, and from Turkey during the Armenian massacres of the 1890s, the genocide of 1915, and various later atrocities perpetrated on the Armenians.

More latterly, there is material relating to the Lebanon Civil War of the 1980s and ongoing conflicts in modern day Israel. The papers also comprise records of associated bodies, including the records of The Lovell Society; records relating to the establishment of the Bulgarian Bible School in the 1930s; records of The Four Homes of Mercy; and records relating to Anatolia College. As a whole, the papers are a rich source of information for the study of missionary work in the Middle East from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day.

Administrative / Biographical History

BibleLands was founded in 1854 as the Turkish Missions Aid Society and its first President was Lord Shaftesbury. Its original objective was to support American Evangelical missionaries working among the Protestant Armenians of Turkey. From its inception it has been one of the channels for British funds to assist the various educational, religious and relief activities of the American Board of Commissioners, and later other missionary organisations, in the Middle East. The Society has worked in many countries in the Middle East including Turkey, Syria, Egypt, the Balkans, Lebanon, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. BibleLands currently supports projects in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, Lebanon and Egypt. Over the years the name of the organisation has changed, from the Turkish Missions Aid Society, to the Bible Lands Missions Aid Society, to the Bible Lands Society, and now BibleLands. However, the Society's original object, which was to support existing missions with money rather than men, has never changed. For this reason its annual reports and later its magazine, The Star in the East, founded in 1893, contain reports from a variety of organisations including many American and British led missions. Currently the Society views itself as an ecumenical charity supporting Christian-led humanitarian projects in the Middle East whose overseas partners provide health, education and community development programmes for disadvantaged people regardless of their faith or nationality.

This collection also comprises papers related to The Lovell Society; The Bulgarian Bible School; The Four Homes of Mercy; and Anatolia College. Please consult the Admin History field in each of these sub-fonds for further information regarding the establishment and histories of these related bodies.


These papers have been arranged into five sub-fonds. One sub-fonds for the records of BibleLands; and one sub-fonds each for the records of The Lovell Society, the Bulgarian Bible School, the Four Homes of Mercy, and Anatolia College. Each sub-fonds has been arranged into series largely corresponding with key functions and activities of the Society including: Administrative records; Financial records; and Publications. A fourth series, based on type of material, has also been created: 'Photographs, postcards and related material'.

Access Information

Access to all registered researchers.

Acquisition Information

Acquired from BibleLands on permanent loan in April 2005.

Other Finding Aids

Please see the full catalogue for further details.

Archivist's Note

Papers arranged and described by Mark Eccleston, March-April 2010. Sources: records of BibleLands (ecumenical charity) and related organisations; Jean Hatton, 'The Light Bearers', London: Monarch Books, 2003; BibleLands website ( viewed 30 March 2010; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography website ( viewed 8 April 2010.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the Director of Special Collections (email: ). Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Special Collections will assist where possible in identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Appraisal Information

All records have been retained, other than duplicates.

Custodial History

The records of BibleLands were kept in the care of the Society Trustees although many of the records were brought together by the depositor, Jean Hatton, during the course of researching her book, 'The Light Bearers', which was published in 2003. A temporary box list was compiled shortly after the records were deposited with the University of Birmingham in 2005, and was used as an interim finding aid for researchers.


Future accruals of two Society's publications, 'The Star in the East' and 'LifeLines', are expected at regular intervals, two to three times a year.

Related Material

Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections hold the records of a number of other missionary societies. These include, amongst others, records of the Church Missionary Society; (reference CMS); the Church of England Zenana Mission Society (reference CEZ); the Society for Promoting Female Education in China, India and the Far East (reference FES).

The department also holds a copy of Jean Hatton's book, 'The Light Bearers' (shelfmark: r BV 2370.B7).


Jean Hatton's book, 'The Light Bearers', London: Monarch Books, 2003, makes numerous references to the BibleLands papers.

Additional Information

Title supplied from contents of the series.