Records of the Calabar Mission

Scope and Content

The collection consists of: an English Calabar dictionary by William Anderson (1849-1851); material used by William Marshall Christie while preparing his record of the mission including a manuscript notebook of locations of missionaries (1911-1945), a note of local church and mission records, notes of the work at the Slessor Memorial Home, Arochuku derived from the S.M.H Record Book (1915-1930), Zenana Quarterly Records (1887-1899) and the Women's Foreign Mission Annual Reports (1900-1908), and the manuscript copy of Annals of the Calabar Mission 1846-1945 by Christie, listing all the missionaries and other workers at Calabar; notes and correspondence about contacts (1914-1915) between Thomas Hart, a missionary accountant from Glasgow, and Mary Slessor, missionary at Calabar; letters including reminiscences to Hart from 'Dan' Slessor, an African adopted by Mary Slessor, and from Dr Francis Akanu Ibiam; 'miscellaneous' papers such as a tribute to Christie (1945), articles about Calabar, and a report of the Itu Leper Colony (1948); and correspondence about histories of the mission (1969).

Administrative / Biographical History

The Calabar mission had its origins in Jamaica when the emancipation of slaves gave weight to proposals take the Christian message to Africa. In 1846 a party landed in Old Calabar, now in Nigeria, led by Hope M. Waddell a Scottish Missionary Society missionary. The group was backed by the United Secession Church but the mission was brought under the supervision of the United Presbyterians in 1847. Waddell remained at the mission until 1859. He was joined by William Anderson, who had begun his career in Jamaica in 1839 then moved to Calabar in 1849 where he was to remain a dominant figure until 1891, and by Hugh Goldie who became the mission's leading Efik scholar and translator. Progress was at first slow, the mission concentrated partly on education and partly on preaching by which they hoped to effect both religious and social change. They were particularly concerned to alter such practices as ritual killing, the killing of twins and poison ordeals. Church membership remained small, but in the 1880s some growth was evident and the mission began a period of expansion of which the appointment of Mary Slessor to Okoyong was part. The Hope Waddell Institute in Duke Town was established during this period. Political changes in the early part of the twentieth century increased the attraction of Christianity and young African teachers, many trained by Alexander Cruickshank, as well as medical missionaries began to play a more prominent role in the church. One of these, Francis Akanu Ibiam, was to become a major figure in independent Nigeria. William Marshall Christie, one of the Calabar missionaries during this period, was ordained in Edinburgh in 1913 and immediately left for Calabar where he first became vice-principal of the Hope Waddell Training Institution then concentrated on opening schools throughout the area. He retired in 1945 in which year the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria was formally constituted. Thomas Hart was a chartered accountant and well known figure in Glasgow. He was an accountant at Calabar from 1911-1912 and again from 1913-1915 when he left and joined the army audit department. The mission itself was finally abandoned in 1960.


The dictionary is stored under MSS CALA, the file and volume are stored together in MSS BOX 52.

Access Information

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

Acquisition Information

The Anderson dictionary came from David Sutherland of Leith. The remaining material was presented to New College Library by Glasgow University Archives in 1990.


The history of the Calabar mission was compiled using: (1) information from the collection. (2) Hewat, Elizabeth. Vision and Achievement 1796-1956 A History of the Foreign Missions of the Churches united in the Church of Scotland. Edinburgh: Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd., 1960.

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

Other Finding Aids

The Index to Manuscripts held at New College Library mentions the collection. A handlist is filed in the New College Inventory of Manuscripts under MSS BOX 52 and MSS CALA.

Conditions Governing Use

Contact the repository for details.

Custodial History

The material (apart from the Anderson dictionary) was gathered together by Donald McFarlan, himself a missionary. Some of it was given to McFarlan by Christie while the former was working on his history of the mission.

Related Material

Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections has an album of illustrations of the Calabar Mission (reference Gen. 827F) and the papers of William Marwick (Gen. 768). Correspondence and papers of William Anderson are in the National Library of Scotland (reference MSS 2981-83, 8943-51) along with Church of Scotland records and other missionary papers including correspondence with William Christie and Thomas Hart. Mary Slessor's papers are at Dundee.


Donald McFarlan used the Christie material for Calabar. The Church of Scotland Mission 1846-1946. London: Thomas Nelson, 1946.

Geographical Names