The Candidates' Examination Committee was made up of Directors of the LMS Board who were clergymen, and their role was to assess the suitability of candidates for their role as missionaries. The Committee changed in terms of structure over the years, but continued to use a series of minute books to document their decisions. Female missionary candidates were examined by a separate Ladies Committee, which was established in 1875. The LMS did appoint single women missionaries, but once they married other missionaries they were expected to resign their posts and carry out work to support their husbands. This involved running schools, working with local women, and nursing. From 1883 onwards, the Australian agent recommended candidates for the Australasian missionary field directly to the Board.
Information on early candidates to the Society is often scant, and Candidates' Papers do not exist for all appointees. The Candidates' Examination Committee Minutes and the published Register of LMS Missionaries may be the only place in which information about such candidates survive. Candidates' Papers only cover missionaries appointed directly by the LMS Board. They do not include information on appointments made locally by missionaries in the field, although there may be reference to local appointments in the Candidates' Committee Minutes, together with those who were accepted for missionary work with the LMS but did not then serve overseas.
Candidates' Papers often contain answers to a set of standard questions on the personal attitudes and religious beliefs of missionary candidates, as devised by the Board ('Answers to Printed Questions'). Papers sometimes include letters of recommendation and support from local church leaders, and correspondence with the candidate about their appointment. A separate series of medical files, including reports on medical examinations and correspondence around physical/mental health was kept for each candidate.
Some candidates appear only in the section 'Answers to Printed Questions', and do not have further material in the main sequence of accepted candidates' papers. Papers in the 'Special Series' relate to local appointments to various positions, including salaries paid by Governments and Institutions.
The LMS Candidates' Papers provide a 'snapshot' of a missionary at the time of their appointment. Their correspondence and answers to questions may include details of their family, such as parents, sibilings and current spouses. Papers were not subsequently updated to include details of marriages, children, etc., although the LMS did compile comprehensive biographical information about their missionaries, including a Register of LMS Missionaries, published for the period 1796-1923, and maintained in unpublished form after this date to the present time. The Society also kept a Register of Missionaries' Children from the late 19th century. More detailed personal information such as births of children, deaths of spouses etc, can sometimes be found in the incoming correspondence from the fields, although there is no guarantee that such information is recorded at all.