South India Incoming Correspondence

Scope and Content

Incoming correspondence from missionaries in South India to the London Missionary Society headquarters. Includes general correspondence from South India, 1796-1816, and correspondence from the LMS linguistic regions: Canarese, 1817-1927, Telugu, 1817-1927, Tamil, 1817-1927, and Travancore, 1817-1927. The letters have been written predominantly by missionaries in the field but there are also frequent reports from Indian converts and Native Teachers or 'Readers', particularly with the Travancore letters. It should be noted that the Native Teachers or Readers were often referred to by various names - an Indian name, a European name (often Biblical, possibly given at baptism) and an additional 'designated' name possibly given upon appointment. Those who underwent further theological training at institutions such as the Bangalore Seminary seem to be referred to as 'Evangelists'. Letters have also been written by the wives of missionaries; LMS officials, including directors, treasurers and secretaries; district committee members; representatives of other missionary societies operating in the region; representatives of private concerns, including businesses, local and colonial officials, soldiers and military commanders.

Detailed cataloguing has been completed at file level for certain areas and dates. This includes general South India letters, 1796-1816, and correspondence for the Canarese district, 1817-1861, Telugu district, 1817-1866, Tamil district, 1817-1866, and Travancore district, 1817-1899. Catalogue entries provide the names of correspondents, dates of letters, places and a summary of the subject matter. For details of the correspondence from each region, see separate descriptions (sub-series). Letters for the later period have yet to be catalogued.


Until 1927, the LMS kept all correspondence received from the mission field in strict chronological order. From approximately the last quarter of the 19th century, each letter has a cover sheet, which gives it a unique number, date sent, date received by the Home Office, the appropriate governing region (Eastern, Southern etc) and a precis of contents. The arrangement of incoming correspondence changed in 1928, when the administrative decision was made to file incoming and outgoing correspondence together in alphabetical files from individuals.

Access Information


Other Finding Aids

Detailed lists for South India: general correspondence, 1796-1816 (list F2), South India: Canarese, 1817-1857 (list F3), South India: Telugu, 1817-1863 (list F5), South India: Tamil, 1817-1860 (list F4), South India: Travancore, 1817-1899 (list F6), are available for consultation in the Special Collections Reading Room, SOAS Library.

Archivist's Note