The Andrew F. Walls Centre for the Study of African and Asian Christianity is a specialist resource intended for those engaged in the study of Christian history, thought and life in Africa and the Asia-Pacific region, and in the overseas Diasporas from those continents. Missions from the West have had a part in the African and Asian Christian story, and this collection has substantial holdings on the history of mission and missionary activity in other parts of the world, as well as on mission theology and practice, other faiths, and the history of religions. The collection also includes many volumes on the historical, political, economic, social and religious background and context of African and Asian Christianity making it valuable also for a range of studies in history and religions. Religious literature published in Africa and Asia, not often collected by British institutions, forms a major feature of this collection.
Professor Andrew Walls has actively collected most of these materials himself over the last five decades, in addition to donations from the University of Edinburgh (Centre for the Study of Christianity in the Non-Western World) and the University of Aberdeen. The Butler Collection of Non-Western Christian Art contains the art library of the late Dr John F. Butler, one of the first serious studies of Christian art in Asia, Africa and Latin America, together with his personal papers and a number of slides, artistic and architectural. This collection also includes works of art from Africa and Asia.
The Centre's collection is augmented by valuable gifts notably from Rev. Dr. George Hood, late of the Selly Oak Colleges, of works on China and Southeast Asia, and from the Brothers Hofmeyr, Prof. J. W. (Hoffie) Hoymeyr and Mr. G. S. (George) Hofmeyr. Prof. Hoffie Hofmeyr of the University of Pretoria has donated about 400 books on South African history, Christianity, traditional religions, culture and modern life. Likewise, Canon Daniel O'Connor has gifted the Centre with a large number of books on Christian Ecumenism, Church Union Movements in India, the works of a few European mission agencies, world religions (e.g., Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam), and famous personalities (e.g., Gandhi). More recently the Centre has benefitted from the archives and book collection of Mrs M. E. Cecilia Irvine and a donation of books by Mr. R. Ross Noble.
The Centre actively collects religious literature – scholarly and popular, mainstream and marginal, official and informal, periodicals and pamphlets – pertaining to African and Asian Christianity. There are many thousands of pamphlets and ephemera from many different countries and in many languages, a large number not being known in any other collection. The periodicals, when the remainder of the material at present in Edinburgh and Aberdeen is received, will include four thousand titles, with complete sets and long runs of material not easy to find in other libraries. The Ida Grace McRuer Collection, transferred from Winnipeg Theological Seminary, is without parallel in Britain in its coverage of North American missions, and there is much rare material from Africa and Asia.
The collection currently contains:
- Over 9,000 catalogued books
- Significant holdings of over 150 scholarly journals with additional short runs, relevant magazines of organisations and churches and one-off copies of other titles
- Significant holdings of up to 600 relevant magazines (including magazines of organisations and churches) and short runs and one-off copies of many other titles
- Material about relevant organisations and churches including reports, newsletters, brochures and other grey literature
- Church Missionary Society Archive on microfilm
- Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society Archive on microfiche