Records of the Christian Mission, predecessor organisation to The Salvation Army

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

These are the papers of the Christian Mission 1865-c1947.

The Christian Mission was an organisation established in London in 1865, which became the predecessor organisation to The Salvation Army.

Many early Christian Mission records were lost during the Second World War, but some originals have survived. The surviving records include original Christian Mission Committee minutes and minutes of the Christian Mission Conferences 1870-1878. Minutes of the Christian Mission Conference Committee 1875-1877 did not survive, but a transcript copy is kept within this collection.

The records also include transcripts of Christian Mission correspondence from 1875-1878, with many letters written by William Booth. The originals of these were also destroyed. The rest of the collection consists of reports and papers, a file of papers relating to buildings (many of these are not original archival material) and a series of magazines - these are duplicate copies from 1868-1878. A full set of the magazines is catalogued as part of the main library collection.

An additional section of the collection contains reference material.

The arrangement of the records is as follows:

CM 1: Minutes of meetings, divided into 5 sub-series: East London CM Commitee Minutes; East London CM Shoreditch Meeting Minutes; Minutes of the Elder's Meeting, CM Croydon; Minutes of the CM Conferences; and Minutes of the CM Conference Committee.

CM 2: Correspondence, divided into 1 sub-series: Letterbooks.

CM 3: Reports and Papers, divided into 8 sub series: Report of the East London CM 1867; Rules and doctrines of the CM 1875; Information leaflets; Finance and associated reports; Buildings; CM League; Foundation Deed; and circuit plans.

CM 4: Magazines, divided into 1 sub series: 1868-1878.

CM 5: Reference Material, divided into 3 sub-series: Press cuttings 1867; Press cuttings 1868-1871; and research papers.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Christian Mission was an organisation established in London in 1865, which became the predecessor organisation to The Salvation Army. The mission grew out of the East London Special Services Committee, a group of Christian businessmen who did evangelistic work in the East End of London. William Booth first had contact with this committee in June 1865, when he preached at a meeting they were holding at the Quaker Burial Ground in Whitechapel. Within a short time, Booth had been asked to give permanent leadership to their ministry. From early documents, it seems to have been called the East London Christian Revival Union from about September 1865, before becoming the East London Christian Revival Society, some time before June 1866. From September 1867, it was known as the East London Christian Mission, but after the Mission opened its first Stations outside East London in 1869, it was renamed The Christian Mission. The CM was one of a number of similar missions that were operating in London at the time, however under Booth's leadership it expanded its work and influence, and soon became the leading organisation among the various missions.

The membership of the CM came largely from two sources: some were converts who were won by Booth's preaching and who wished to help in the work; another group were members of the original East London Special Services Committee. By 1878, the CM was an 'army' in all but name. The June 1878 issue of the Christian Mission Magazine referred to William Booth as 'our worthy general'. One morning, William, his son Bramwell and George Scott Railton, his leading associate were preparing a CM report and changed text on the front page from 'volunteer army' to 'salvation army'. Almost immediately missioners began to refer to their organisation as The Salvation Army and the new name was used in the September 1878 issue of the Christian Mission Magazine.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for research. The reading room of The Salvation Army International Heritage Centre is open Tue-Fri 9.30-4.00. It is advisable to make an appointment. Tel: 0207 326 7800; email: heritage@salvationarmy.org.uk.

Open