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Church Mission Society Archives

What we can offer researchers

Unfortunately we are unable to undertake research.

Accessing the Church Mission Society Archives

The archives are held at the University of Birmingham in the Cadbury Research Library Special Collections. Anyone can use the collection. Please apply directly to the University. You do not need to contact the CMS archivist. More information

Resources at CMS Oxford

There are a variety of publications and microfilm records available at the Crowther Library at Church Mission Society in Oxford. You will need to make an appointment to view them. More information

Contact

Email Ken Osborne or call 01865 787553.

Church Mission Society Archives, Birmingham

With an estimated two million items, this is by far the largest collection in the University of Birmingham Library. 

It has been received in instalments from 1979, and papers from the Society's foundation in 1799 up to 1959 are currently open for scholarly study. 

To visit, you need to register for a reader's card.

The collection is a rich source of information not only for ecclesiastical history and missiology but for the secular history and anthropology of the many countries, particularly in Asia and Africa, in which the Society has operated. Included are records of the Society's home administration (minute books, ledgers, correspondence and publications) and of the work of individual missions, amongst them letters and diaries kept by missionaries. 

During these years the Society absorbed three other missionary societies, and their archives too now form part of the collection in the University Library; they are the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society (founded 1880), the Female Education Society (founded 1834), and the Loochoo Naval Mission (founded 1843).

Useful links

University of Birmingham

Adam Matthew Publications

Adam Matthew Publications have put approximately two-thirds of the CMS Archive onto microfilm. A searchable online archive of CMS periodicals 1804-2009 is also now available through subscription; libraries and institutions may contact Adam Mathew Publications directly to apply for access.

Their website also has several useful articles on using the archive.

Archive resources in Oxford

A variety of useful archival resources is available in Oxford, together with some publications.

To view any of the material listed below, please book an appointment with Ken Osborne, our archivist, who will be happy to advise you on using the collection. We are, however, unable to carry out any research on your behalf.

The Crowther library is open from 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays). 

Email Ken, or call 01865 787553.

Materials available in Oxford

  • A full set of the archive catalogues for the Birmingham collection
  • Microfilms of the Archive collection (approximately two-thirds of the collection has now been filmed by Adam Matthews Publications and is available for viewing)
  • Publications:
  • CMS Proceedings (1801-1921) became CMS Report (1922-1961)
    • lists of current CMS missionaries, by location
    • list of Secretaries, Officers and Staff of the Society
    • brief overview of the year's work in each mission station
    • contributions to the Society from individual churches, listed by diocese
  • CMS Year Book (1962-1980) became CMS Directory (1981-)
    • lists of current CMS missionaries, by location
    • list of Secretaries, Officers and Staff of the Society
  • CMS Intelligencer (A monthly journal of Missionary Information) (1849-1906) became Church Missionary Review (1907-1927); Church Overseas (1928-1934); East & West Review (1935-1964)
    • scholarly publication with in-depth articles
  • Church Missionary Gleaner (1842-1921) became CM Outlook (1922-1972); YES (1973-)
    • more “popular”, briefer articles with illustrations
  • Annual Letters of the Missionaries (1886-1913)
    • “topped & tailed” copies of Missionaries' Annual Letters
  • Annual Report (1919-1944) became Historical Record (1944-1986)
    • Precis of selected Annual Letters / Link Letters
  • Church Missionary Record (Detailing the Proceedings of the CMS) (1830-1875)
  • The Missionary Register (Containing the Principal Transactions of the various Institutions for Propagating the Gospel: with The Proceedings, at Large, of the Church Missionary Society) (1813-1855)

SAMS archive

There is some important archive material, including photographic material, minute books, diaries (including those of the founder of SAMS, Captain Allen F Gardiner RN, most notably his final one found by his body in Tierra del Fuego in 1852).

There is also a full set of the Society's magazine (now known as Share) from its inception in 1867. You can download a complete list of the illustrations contained in the magazine. 

The collection is predominantly on open access to accredited users.

Microform Academic Publishers hold a set of 17 reels of microfilm containing 'Records from the archive of the South American Missionary Society'. This includes most of the material up to 1919, including the journals of Allen Gardiner, Edward Bernau and Adolfo Henriksen, General Committee Minutes from 1844 and the Society's magazine. All this material is also now online.

For more information see www.microform.co.uk/academic