New College and Edinburgh University Student Societies: Missionary Societies (New College Archives)

Scope and Content

The records include: the Edinburgh University Missionary Association (minutes 1825-1929, minutes of the Home Mission 1889-1992, minutes of the Christian Evidence Section 1887-1889; annual reports 1927-1914; lists of members 1839-1931; newspaper cuttings 1877-1879; library catalogues and loan books 1848-1891; correspondence 1826-early 1900s); the United Presbyterian Students Missionary Society (minutes 1849-62); and the New College Missionary Society (minutes, including Advisory Council minutes, 1908-1987, Settlement Committee minutes 1890-1932, minutes of the joint committee of New College and Free St Andrews Mission; and NCMS reports, pamphlets, correspondence and other papers from 1908).

Administrative / Biographical History

Edinburgh University Missionary Association was formed in 1825 as the Edinburgh Association of Theological Students in Aid of the Diffusion of Christian Knowledge. In 1828 a decision was taken to allow all Edinburgh University students to join and the title Edinburgh Association of Theological and Other Students in Aid of the Diffusion of Christian Knowledge was used from around 1830. The Association changed its name again in 1836 when it became the Edinburgh University Missionary Association (EUMA). The group met regularly, often with guest speakers some of whom were well known missionaries, and members paid subscriptions which were put towards the formation of a library and to assist missionary activities at home and overseas. Some members became missionaries themselves and remained affiliated to the Association. The group was in regular correspondence with other missionary societies in Britain, America and Europe. By the First World War the Association's activities had expanded to included clubs and savings banks at home and funding for a medical dispensary in Tibet and a training institute at Kalimpong. The Association ceased to exist after the union with the New College Missionary Society in 1930.

The New College Missionary Society (NCMS) was formed in 1825. Originally only for the Free Church students of New College its aims and activities were similar to those of the EUMA, although it perhaps had more of an impact. It had an active Foreign Mission Scheme raising money to support missions abroad and a settlement in the Pleasance area of Edinburgh where members helped to run halls and clubs and provide social, recreational and religious activities for residents. In 1890 a separate Settlement Committee was establish to oversee the project and members of the NCMS also held joint meetings with the St Andrew's Mission about the Pleasance. All the NCMS's activities were overseen by an Advisory Council of representatives of the senate of New College, the Edinburgh Presbytery and other interested parties. In 1900 the Society merged with a section of the United Presbyterian College Missionary Society and was open to members of the United Free Church. When the NCMS combined with the EUMA it became the Edinburgh University New College Missionary Society until 1934 when it was decided to revert simply to the title New College Missionary Society.

The United Presbyterian Students Missionary Society in connection with Edinburgh University was formed with similar aims as the EUMA and NCMS, but was for United Presbyterians only.


The records form part of the collection of New College Archives (AA) in the series New College and Edinburgh University Student Societies. The records of each society or association are grouped together: EUMA from AA 3.3.1 to 3.3.34; UPSMS is at AA 3.3.35; and NCMS from 3.3.40 to 3.3.75. Gaps have been left in the numbering where minute books are missing. Within each group minutes, correspondence and reports are arranged in broadly chronological order. Only one box, AA 3.3.32, contains material (correspondence) concerning both the EUMA and the NCMS.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.

Acquisition Information

The records were transferred from the NCMS to New College Library over a period of time (details from 1971 are recorded in the New College accessions book).


The administrative histories were compiled using information from the archives.

Compiled by Caroline Brown, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division. Revised by Graeme D Eddie.

Other Finding Aids

The material is mentioned in the Index to Manuscripts at New College Library. A full handlist is available in the Inventory of Manuscripts under AA New College Archives.

Appraisal Information

Check the local Indexes for details of any additions.

Custodial History

Earlier New College Missionary Society records once existed but no longer form part of the collection. The first minute book surviving in the collection is marked number 5.