Papers of Helen M. Taylor

Scope and Content

The collection covers the period of the controversy over the Central African Federation and the protests of the nationalist movement under Hastings Banda. The material includes papers, memoranda, telegrams and reports by Taylor and others relating to the position of the church, mission and teacher training college at Livingstonia and giving their opinions on the events in Nyasaland. Statements and correspondence are directed to the government, the Devlin Commission of Enquiry and to Hastings Banda.

Administrative / Biographical History

Helen M. Taylor, Church of Scotland missionary and teacher, arrived in Nyasaland in 1933, her first post being at a school at Loudon near Mzimba. She later moved to Livingstonia and became the principal of Overtoun Institute, the teacher training college there. When the Church of Scotland mission was dissolved in 1960 and responsibility passed to the synod of the Church of Livingstone Taylor became an elder in the Presbyterian Church of Central Africa. During the troubles in Nyasaland prompted by the actions of the nationalists under Hastings Banda opposed to Federation, she played and important role in speaking up to safeguard the place of the church and mission and the rights of normal Africans. Taylor was particularly concerned to bring to the attention of the government the intimidation practised by the security forces on Africans. While recognising the need for careful handling of the relationship between the government and the church she opposed Federation and called for the release of detained African leaders. Taylor published a pamphlet on African (Malawi) religious songs and lived in Edinburgh when she retired.


The material is stored, in no specific order, in one file.

Access Information

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

Acquisition Information

The papers were presented to Edinburgh University in 1983 by Miss Taylor, through Professor Shepperson of the University of Edinburgh.


The biographical note was compiled using information from the collection.

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

Other Finding Aids

Alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division. The collections is mentioned in the Edinburgh University Library subject checklist (C3) Manuscripts on Africa.

Conditions Governing Use

Contact the repository for details.

Related Material

Edinburgh University Library holds some other collections relating to the earlier history of the Livingstonia mission such as the papers of Robert Laws. The National Library of Scotland has an extensive missionary collection including material on Livingstonia.