Church Missionary Society Unofficial Papers

Scope and Content

This collection, known as the Church Missionary Society Unofficial Papers, comprises an extensive compilation of a large number of privately deposited collections relating to the work of the Church Missionary Society, both at home and through its overseas missions, and to its missionaries and their families. These privately deposited collections complement the official archive of the Church Missionary Society.

These Unofficial Papers include a large number of collections of papers of CMS missionaries and agents and their families which may contain diaries and journals, letters, photographs, manuscript and typescript writings, research papers, printed and other materials. They also include papers of sympathisers not officially connected with the CMS. Significant collections of this type include: CMS/ACC18: Papers of Bishop Llewellyn Henry Gwynne (1863-1957, missionary in Sudan) c1880-1957; CMS/ACC21 and CMS/ACC28: Travel journals and photograph albums of Edith Baring-Gould, (daughter of CMS Secretary, Rev B. Baring-Gould), 1881-1941; CMS/ACC27: Papers of Rev. William Arthur Crabtree (missionary in Uganda and philologist), 1888-c1935; CMS/ACC36: Journals and letters of Archibald Downes-Shaw (missionary in Africa), 1882-1889; CMS/ACC81: Venn MSS comprising diaries, biographies and correspondence of the Venn and associated families including papers of Henry Venn (1796-1873, Secretary of CMS) and John Venn (1759-1813, a founder of the CMS), 1619-c 1955; CMS/ACC82: Papers of Graham Wilmot Brooke (missionary in West Africa), 1883-1892; CMS/ACC84: Papers of Rev Arthur B. Fisher (missionary in Africa), 1892-1956; CMS/ACC88: Walker MSS being the papers of the Walker family and particularly of Robert Henry Walker (missionary in Uganda), 1887-1946; CMS/ACC89: Diaries and papers of Archdeacon Thomas John Dennis (missionary in Nigeria), 1893-1917; CMS/ACC91:Tucker MSS being the papers of Rev. John Tucker (Secretary of the Madras Corresponding Committee 1833-1847 and Secretary at Headquarters 1847-1852), 1826-1865; CMS/ACC285: Moule MSS comprising papers of various members of the Moule family including family letters of Adelaide Moule (wife of Rev George Evans Moule, missionary in China, 1858-1875); and journals, circular and other letters of George Herbert Moule and his wife Edith ( missionaries in Japan, 1922-36) 1857-c 1950; CMS/ACC348: Papers of Augustus Henry Lash (1838-1932, missionary), 1852-1921.

These Unofficial Papers also include collections of records of local CMS associations (supporting groups of CMS members) and associated organisations which may include minutes, financial records, reports and correspondence. They also include records of local associations of other societies with which the CMS has been linked or connected. Collections of this type include: CMS/ACC260: Records of Derby and Derbyshire Church Missionary Association, 1819-1821 CMS/ACC309: Records of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society, Southport Association 1896-1958 CMS/ACC328: Records of the Bradford Church Missionary Association 1929-1967 CMS/ACC306: Records of the Kent Church Missionary Association, and the East Kent Church Missionary Association, 1821-49 CMS/ACC351: Records of Manchester CMS Association 1930-1971.

These Unofficial Papers also include some collections of research papers relating to the history of the CMS, principally: CMS/ACC87: Hole MSS being the research papers of Reverend Charles Hole, author of the The Early History of the Church Missionary Society , CMS/ACC318: Research papers of Gordon Hewitt relating to his publication The Problems of Success, a history of CMS 1910-1942 (1971-1977). In addition, the Unofficial Papers include numerous other small personal, family and miscellaneous collections and accessions, some of them consisting of only one or two items.

Administrative / Biographical History

In the late 18th century, the Church of England did not have a body to organise and effect its missionary activity and there became a growing realisation that there was scope for a society to evangelise the indigenous people. In 1799, a group of Evangelical clergymen and laymen (all members of the Eclectic Society, an Anglican discussion society) met at the Castle and Falcon Inn in Aldersgate in the City of London and the Church Missionary Society for Africa and the East was formed. At that meeting, John Venn, rector of Clapham (and a member of the Clapham sect) laid down the guidelines which the CMS continues to follow. The basis was that the society should be loyal to the leadership of bishops and to the Anglican pattern of liturgy but that it was not to be dominated by clergy. It emphasised the role of laymen and laywomen and was and is primarily a membership society comprising its missionaries, its supporters and its staff at headquarters.

The Church Missionary Society (now renamed as the Church Mission Society) is administered by its committees and each Secretary to a main committee is in charge of a department at headquarters. The General Committee (now the General Council) is the most important and is responsible for overall policy and all CMS members are represented on the General Committee. The main departments at headquarters included the General Secretary's Department, the Finance Department (both in existence from the foundation of the Society), the Medical Department (set up in 1891), the Candidates Department (set up in 1897) and the Home Department (set up in 1871). Initially the Society had no designated offices but in 1813 it rented premises in Salisbury Square which had expanded by the end of the 19th century to house a large headquarters with a complex administration and numerous staff working under eleven Secretaries. The Society moved from the City of London in 1966 to its current premises in Waterloo Road.

The overseas mission work of the CMS began in Sierra Leone in 1804 but spread rapidly to India, Canada, New Zealand and the area around the Mediterranean. Its main areas of work in Africa have been in Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Sudan; in Asia, the CMS's involvement has principally been in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, China and Japan; and in the Middle East, it has worked in Palestine, Jordan, Iran and Egypt. It has also worked extensively in New Zealand (1809-1914) and Canada (1822-1930), with smaller missions in Abyssinia (1830-1842), Asia Minor (Smyrna) (1830-1877), Greece (1830-1875), Madagascar (1863-1874), Malta (1815-1843), Mauritius (1856-1929), Seychelles (1871-1894), South Africa (1840-1843), Turkey (1819-1821), Turkish Arabia (Baghdad, 1883-1919 and Mosul, 1900-1919), and the West Indies (1819-1861). All overseas mission work was administered by the Committee of Correspondence up to 1880. In 1880, the system of mission administration was revised and the mission field was divided into three geographical areas under three Group Sub-Committees and from 1935 the missions were administered by the Africa and Asia Committees.

Reference: Rosemary Keen, 'The Church Missionary Society Archives: or thirty years work in the basement' Catholic Archives ( Volume 1 ). ; Church Missionary Society Archive. General Guide and Introduction to the Archive. A Guide to the Microfilm Collection ( Adam Matthew Publications, 1998 ). ; Henry S. Cobb, 'The archives of the Church Missionary Society' Archives ( Volume II, No. 14, 1955 ).


Each separate deposit has been given a running Accession number. Each Accession has then been catalogued as a sub-fonds and the papers arranged into one or more series of records in accordance with a classification scheme designed by the CMS for cataloguing these Unofficial Accessions. The scheme provides for the following series, each represented by a letter: A: Administrative papers C: Correspondence F: Family papers O: Official papers Q: Charity and ecclesiastical papers T: Title deeds Z: Miscellaneous papers

Access Information

Open. Access to all registered researchers unless otherwise indicated in the detailed finding aids.

Other Finding Aids

Please see the 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

The vast majority of these Unofficial Papers were deposited with the Church Missionary Society and then subsequently transferred to the Special Collections Department in the early 1980s. To date, the Special Collections Department holds the majority of the Unofficial Papers numbered CMS/ACC1 to CMS/ACC 350 with a few exceptions. The following collections have still not been received: CMS/ACC152, 180 (which is closed until 2010), 231, 288, 297, 327. A small number of other Unofficial Papers have subsequently been deposited with other institutions or have been withdrawn by the depositor: CMS/ACC159-160 are with the British and Foreign Bible Society; CMS/ACC280 is in Hull University Library; CMS/ACC250 has been withdrawn by the depositor. In addition, the following numbers are no longer in use: CMS/ACC9, 25, 90, 108, 257, 259, 290, 294. These numbers were allocated by the CMS on receipt of deposits, but the materials were subsequently catalogued with existing Unofficial Papers or were incorporated into the official archives of the CMS, as appropriate.

The Special Collections Department holds only a small number of Unofficial Papers after CMS/ACC350: CMS/ACC351-357; CMS/ACC359-363; CMS/ACC379; CMS/ACC384; CMS/ACC397; CMS/ACC410; CMS/ACC428; CMS/ACC466; CMS/ACC483; CMS/ACC559; CMS/ACC725-728. Unofficial Papers with the intervening numbers, together with those numbered CMS/ACC729 onwards, are still held by the Church Missionary Society.

Related Material

The Special Collections holds the official archives of the Church Missionary Society (now the Church Mission Society) (CMS). It also holds the archives of other missionary societies including the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society (CEZMS), the Society for Promoting Female Education in the East (also known as the Female Education Society) (FES) and the Bible Churchmen's Missionary Society (now Crosslinks) (MS47).