Church Missionary Society Archive

A rich repository of source materials on the work of this globally influential organisation, founded in 1799 as an Anglican evangelical movement and still active today.

Scholars of missionary and global history will find this collection an invaluable research source. This varied archive includes records of both the CMS and the many other missionary societies which became associated or amalgamated with it.

Modules include

Module Summary Date
East Asia Missions

This collection contains the letter books, administrative material and other papers (including those of individual missionaries) of the CMS missions in Japan and China and of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society in India from the 1810s to the 1950s. Material includes the Bulletin of the Diocese of Western China and the CMS Japan Quarterly, and the books written by CEZMS missionaries between 1892 and 1944.

1892 - 1944
Missions to Women

Included here are the papers of the Society for Promoting Female Education in China, India and the East, the Zenana, Bible and Medical Mission and the Indian Female Normal School and Instruction Society, and the various publications focusing on the CMS’s missionary work among women, including India’s Women and China’s Daughters (1880-1957) and the Indian Female Evangelist (1872-1956).

1880 - 1957
Central Records

This collection consists of central records of the Church Missionary Society, including its register of missionaries (1804-1918), annual letters of the missionaries (1886-1912) and centrally produced publications, such as the medicine-focused journals Mercy and Truth and The Mission Hospital. Featured also are collections of private papers, such as those of Henry Venn (secretary of CMS, 1846-1872) and his extensive family and Max Warren (general secretary of CMS, 1942-1963).

1846 - 1963
Africa Missions

The CMS’s missionary work in Africa spanned the continent, with a focus on the territories under British rule. This collection consists of letter books, precis books, individual missionaries’ papers and other material from missions in Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Sudan, Egypt, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Mauritius, Madagascar and the Seychelles.

Missions to the Americas

CMS activity in the Americas was concentrated in the West Indies and in the Canadian Rockies and Arctic. This collection consists of these missions' letterbooks, reports and loose correspondence, and the papers of individual missionaries and catechists working in the Americas.

Missions to India

The CMS began work in India under the East India Company and this collection documents its activities there up to 1959. Material includes letter collections from individual missionaries and catechists, detailed files on individual CMS schools and minutes of meetings of various committees.

General Secretary’s Papers

The general secretary’s department was responsible for CMS policy, including the selection of missionaries. This collection consists of the department’s papers covering Africa, Japan and China, including pamphlets, material on education and correspondence with various bishops.

Home Papers

This collection consists of the papers of the CMS’s education secretaries, and includes reports of visits to schools, minutes of meetings of education committees and material on the training of teachers and clergy people.

Middle East Missions

The CMS’s missionaries in the Middle East worked in Palestine and Jordan, beginning under Ottoman rule. Material in this collection includes newsletters, reports on refugees, schools and hospitals and accounts of the position of missionaries during the First World War.

Key data

Period covered


Source archive

  • Cadbury Research Library, Birmingham University
  • Missiology
  • Medicine and health
  • Education
  • Gender/Women’s studies
  • Cultural encounters
  • Politics and conflict
  • Social reform
  • World history
  • Annual reports, minutes and financial records
  • Personal papers
  • Correspondence and letter books
  • Journals, travel records and diaries
  • Photographs
  • Ephemera
  • African Studies
  • Communities, Peoples and Nations
  • East Asian Studies
  • Religious Studies

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