Records of the Basel Mission

Scope and Content

Copies of "Rundbriefe", circular letters of missionaries.

Administrative / Biographical History

Administrative/Biographical History

The German Missionary Society (subsequently the Basel Evangelical Missionary Society) was founded in 1815. Now known as the Basel Mission, it is one of the biggest and oldest German speaking Protestant missionary societies and was international and interdenominational from the beginning. The society opened an institution for training missionaries in 1816 and was initially involved in training people from the British and Dutch mission societies which were already engaged in evangelistic work. The largest number of missionaries were supplied to the Church Missionary Society. The Basel Mission Society also began to establish centres of its own, in Western Russia and then the Gold Coast area in West Africa (1828), in India (1834), China (1847), Cameroon (1886), Borneo (1921), Nigeria (1951) and Latin America and the Sudan (1972-73).

Part of its mission activities took the form of the pioneering programmes to provide employment and these industrial activities included the establishment of a printing press, a weaving industry and tile manufacturing. It also undertook medical missionary work.

Since the Second World War, the overseas work of the Basel Mission has been conducted in partnership with local autonomous churches. About 40 members are now working overseas, as pastors in parish work and training, doctors, nurses, mid-wives and medical-technical personnel, social workers, teachers, adult education staff, agriculturalists, construction experts, technicians and administrative staff. The mission has relations with churches and Christian organisations principally in Cameroon, Nigeria, Sudan, Zaire, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, Bolivia, Peru and Chile. Since 2000, it has been a member of a new association of missions under the banner of "mission 21", created at the Basel Mission House.

Reference: Evangelisches Missionswerk in Suedwestdeutschland /Association of Churches and Missions in South Western Germany ( ). Accessed June 2002.


The letters are organised by country including Cameroon, India, Borneo, Ghana, China, Gold Coast and South Africa, Hong Kong; Within countries, individual "rundbrief" are filed alphabetically by name of missionary.

Access Information

Open. Access to all bona fide researchers. All papers held at the Orchard Learning Resources Centre will be viewed at the Birmingham University Information Services, Special Collections Department. Please contact the University Archivist for further information.

Other Finding Aids

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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.

Custodial History

Following the merger of the Selly Oak Colleges and the University of Birmingham in 1999 the custodial ownership of collections belonging to the Selly Oak Colleges and held at the Orchard Learning and Resource Centre (OLRC) was transferred to the University. These collections now form part of the University's Special Collections Department and are available for consultation at the Main Library on the University's Edgbaston Campus.

Related Material

The University of Birmingham, Special Collections Department holds a rich collection of archives relating to missions, charities and other religious and ecclesiastical organisations and individuals.


Corporate Names