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Records of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society

Collection Details

Records of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society held at Information Services: Special Collections (Archives and Manuscripts) [Institution record]

Description of Collection

Content description

Scope and content:

Records of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society, 1880-1968, comprising minutes of the General Committee, 1880-1968, Executive Committee, 1898-1957, Candidates Committee, 1882-1957, Finance Committee, 1881-1957, Home Organisation Committee, 1896-1957 and other Committees and Sub-Committees; rolls and registers of missionaries, 1880-1957; correspondence and administrative papers of the Society's Secretaries; financial records; legal records; publications including annual reports, periodicals and newsletters, printed leaflets and booklets reports of missions, and books written by missionaries; photographs of officers and missionaries. The collection also includes copies of some issues of 'The Indian Female Evangelist', published by the Indian Female Normal School and Instruction Society, 1872-1880.

Extent: 247 volumes, 105 files, 39 docs, 27 photographs, 11 collecting boxes and a wooden plaque.

Language: English

Date: 1872-1968

History and development

Administrative history:

The Church of England Zenana Missionary Society was founded in 1880 when it separated from the interdenominational Indian Female Normal School Society (founded 1852). Its main aim was to evangelise the women of India by means of normal schools [teacher training colleges], zenana visiting, medical missions, Hindu and Muslim female schools and the employment of Bible women. The Society was to work in close co-operation with the Church Missionary Society. In 1957 it amalgamated with CMS. A board of trustees continued to administer the transfer of property and trust funds until 1968.

The overseas work of the society started in India but spread to China in 1884, Japan in 1886 and Ceylon in 1889. Work in China ended in 1950 when the missionaries had to leave, but from 1952 they worked amongst the Chinese in Malay. Work in Japan had to be given up in 1892 and it was handed over to CMS. When the Female Education Society (founded 1843) closed down in 1900 CEZMS took over their work in Singapore, though the Singapore School sub-committee (secretary 1904-1912 Lady Gage Brown, 1913 Miss E. Gage Brown) was not fully integrated until 1913.

CEZMS missionaries began teaching in zenanas and day-schools. The chief stations were Trivandrum, Palamcotta (Sarah Tucker College), Masulipatam and Madras in South India, Meerut (handed over to CMS 1893), Jabalpur, Calcutta (Normal School) and Amritsar (Alexandra School) in North India.

Medical work was of great importance. The Society had taken over the work at Amritsar (St. Catherines' hospital) and other hospitals and dispensaries were established in Bhagalpur, Srinagar, Peshawar (Connaught hospital), Batala, Narowal and Tarn Taran. Work was also done by village missions, a central village from which evangelists visited dozens of villages grouped around the centre. The chief places for these in the 1880s were Jandiala, Ajnala, Narowal, Tarn Taran and Nadiya. Industrial work was begun in 1883, with a class at Amritsar. The Indian Widows' Union was set up in England in 1889. English widows raised financial support for Indian widows' industries. It was active from 1889 to 1946/7 and its reports are entered in the Annual Reports [G/E L 1/1]. There was also work amongst the deaf and dumb in India (at Palamcotta from 1900, Mylapore from 1914) and amongst the blind in China at Kucheng, and Nantai, Foochow.

Source: Rosemary A. Keen, Catalogue of the papers of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society, 1987.

Custodial history:

The archives of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society passed into the custody of the Church Missionary Society on the amalgamation of the two societies. The records were then deposited with the Special Collections Department in the 1980s.

Strengths

The records of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society constitute an important missionary archive. It is a particularly rich resource which facilitates study in a wide range of diciplines offering opportunities for in-depth research into aspects of Asian history, religion and culture.

General arrangement and access regulations

Access:

Open to all registered readers.

System of arrangement:

The archives have been listed in four sections or sub-fonds, corresponding to the departments of the four Secretaries in charge in 1952 when the Society gave up its separate office and moved its headquarters and Home to Cromwell House. These comprised the Clerical Secretary's Department [CEZ/G]; the Foreign and Candidates Secretary's Department [CEZ/C]; the Financial Secretary's Department [CEZ/F]; and the Home Organisations Secretary's Department [CEZ/H]. At that time the Publication Committee and House (Home and Depot) Committee were wound up. By 1953 the Foreign and Home Departments were combined under Miss Winifred Chapman.

Subjects of the Collection

Regions of Asia

East Asia, South Asia, South East Asia.

Countries

China, India, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka.

Languages of material

English.

Subjects

Education, Medicine, Religion, Women.

Names relevant to the collection:

  • Church of England Zenana Missionary Society
  • Indian Female Normal School Society

Collection Material and Size of Collection

Material Types

Archival materials (includes non-published & mixed material), Books, Serials, Visual materials (includes photographs, prints, drawings, videos & films).

Total size of collection

247 volumes, 105 files, 39 docs, 27 photographs, 11 collecting boxes and a wooden plaque.

Size of collection - vernacular

None

Size of collection - western

All

Collection Management Information

The collection is not being actively developed.

Content date range

1872 to 1968 AD

Collection Catalogue Information

Catalogue

A paper catalogue of the collection is available in the reading room of the Special Collections Department in the Main Library and at the National Register of Archives in London. A collection level description is available electronically on our Online Archive Catalogue.

Collection printed catalogues

Catalogue of the papers of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society
Keen, Rosemary A.
London: Church Missionary Society, 1987

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