Letters, Journals and Other Papers of Frances Dennis

Scope and Content

This collection includes a series of letters and journal letters written by Frances Dennis, mostly addressed to "My dear Friends" which relate to her service as a CMS missionary at Onitsha, Ugboke and Owerri in Southern Nigeria, 1902-1907. They also include, for example, reports of various journeys in the hinterland of Asaba and Benin and a journey from Ibadan to Idumiye in 1907. Other material includes a typescript of her autobiographical experiences as a missionary, entitled Niger Dawn , notes of Ibo folk tales and proverbs which she collected, some photographs and letters she received.

Administrative / Biographical History

Frances Mary Dennis (b 1874) was accepted as a Church Missionary Society (CMS) missionary in 1897. She served in Southern Nigeria and was stationed at Onitsha, Ugboke and Owerri. She had two brothers and a sister who were also CMS missionaries, Thomas, Edward and Ellen. Her fiance, Rev Charles Geoffrey Hensley, also a CMS missionary, died in 1901. Frances resigned from missionary service in 1909 on her marriage to Rev. Stephen Hensley, a clergyman.

Reference: Register of missionaries (clerical, lay & female) and native clergy from 1804 to 1904 ( (Church Missionary Society, 1905) ).


This collection forms part of the Church Missionary Society Unofficial Papers. It is arranged into a single series: Family Papers.

Access Information

Open. Access to all registered researchers.

Acquisition Information

The collection was presented to the Church Missionary Society on permanent loan in September 1959, and transferred to the Special Collections Department in the 1980s.

Other Finding Aids

See full catalogue for further details.

Alternative Form Available

Some of this collection, principally the journal letters, F1-F2, have been microfilmed and were micropublished by Adam Matthew Publications in 1996 as part of a publication entitled Women's Language and Experience, 1500-1940. Women's Diaries and Related Sources .

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 Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult.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.

Related Material

The University of Birmingham, Special Collections Department and the Orchard Learning Resources Centre hold a rich collection of archives relating to missions, charities and other religious and ecclesiastical organisations and individuals. These include the official archive of the Church Missionary Society Archive, which includes papers relating Frances Dennis's service as a missionary. It also holds papers of her brother, Archdeacon Thomas Dennis, see GB 150 CMS/ACC89.