Baptist Missionary Society Archives.
The collection consists of the published microfilm edition of 90 reels of minutes, committee records, correspondence, and missionaries' papers of the British mission agency, organized in 1792. Also included is 1 microfilm reel (Reel A) that contains a guide printed by the Historical Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and a comprehensive catalog identifying each letter included in the Missionary Correspondence, and 7 sheets of microfiche that consist of a calendar of missionary correspondence relating to the India, Africa, China, and West Indies missions of the Baptist Missionary Society, corresponding to microfilm reels 35-89.
The Evangelism and Missions Archives does not have the original documents of this collection, but rather the edition of the records, purchased from a publisher, as did many other archives and libraries. Society committees whose activities and deliberations are documented include: Finance, Candidate Board, Eastern India and Ceylon, China, and Western. Principle correspondents and figures include William Carey, Adoniram Judson, Isaac Allen, William Holman Bentley, John Chamberlain, Thomas Comber, Andrew Fuller, Joseph Jackson Fuller, George Grenfell, Alfred G. Jones, William Knibb, Joshua Marshman, Timothy Richard, George Henry Rouse, and William Ward. Subjects documented include missions in India, China (including the Boxer Rebellion), Sri Lanka, the West Indies (especially Jamaica), Sierra Leone, Cameroons, Zaire, Angola, France, Norway, Germany, and Italy, and other mission-related subjects.
- Created: 1792-1914
Conditions Governing Access
There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.
Conditions Governing Use
The following restrictions were taken word-for-word from the companion guide printed by the Historical Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention (later the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives).
"The Baptist Missionary Society has opened these materials from its archives, dated 1792-1914, for study by scholars and other researchers investigating the history of Baptist missions. Literary rights are retained by the Society. Responsibility for obtaining permission to cite these materials rests with the individual researcher. The address of the Society is: 93/97 Gloucester Place London WIH 4AA, ENGLAND
The Historical Commission, SBC, is contract sales agent for the Baptist Missionary Society Archives microfilm collection. Duplication of this microfilm collection except by the Historical Commission or Baptist Missionary Society is expressly forbidden. Single copies of selected items may be made by researchers, but multiple copies may not be made without written permission from the Baptist Missionary Society and/or Historical Commission."
Updated contact information for the Baptist Missionary Society [still the official name but referring to itself in 2023 as BMS World Mission] is BMS World Mission, PO Box 49, 129 Broadway, Didcot, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom, OX11 8XA.
The Baptist Missionary Society was founded in 1792 by William Carey (1761-1834). As a youth, Carey had developed an interest in missionary work in the South Seas through reading the accounts of Captain Cook's 1769-1770 voyages to that region. This interest was accentuated when Carey read Jonathan Edwards' book Life of Brainerd. In 1792, Carey himself authored a paper, "An Inquiry into the Obligations of Christians to use Means for the Conversion of the Heathen." His two sermons in that year, one before the Baptist Association at Nottingham and the other before the Baptist Association at Kettering, were impassioned pleas for missions, and these are generally credited with spurring the interest in others which resulted in the founding of the Baptist Missionary Society on October 2, 1792.
The original intent of the Society was to foster mission work in the South Seas, but this was given up when a definite burden was felt for the heathen of India. In March 1793 William Carey sailed with John Thomas (1757-1792) and they landed in Calcutta in November of that year. Work was concentrated in the areas of Bible translation, preaching, teaching, and the founding of schools. It was not until 1800, however, that Carey baptized the first Hindu convert. In 1810 the India work was organized into five missions, and by 1813 the Society could report sixty-three workers, native and European, involved in twenty mission stations. Two other men heavily involved in organizing the India work were Joshua Marshman (1768-1837) and William Ward (1769-1823).
A mission begun in Sierra Leone in 1795 proved to be abortive. Work was not resumed in West Africa until 1842, when stations were founded both on the Spanish island of Fernando Po, and in Cameroon. Spanish authorities halted the Fernando Po mission in 1858. The Cameroon work continued until 1887, when German colonization there paved the way for the Basle Missionary Society to take over that mission. In 1878, the Baptist Missionary Society entered the Congo and Angola. Missionaries were forced to withdraw from both areas in 1961.
A mission was begun on Ceylon in 1812. In 1813 the West Indies work was begun in Jamaica, followed by mission stations in British Honduras (1822), the Bahamas (1833), Trinidad and the Dominican Republic (both 1843), and Haiti (1845). A mission was founded in France in 1834; other European stations later included Norway and Italy. Attempts to place missionaries in China were not successful at first, but work was established there by 1877. The Society extended itself into Japan in 1879 and into Palestine in 1880. With the Communist takeover in China in 1949, the Society withdrew from there and sought to continue its mission to the Chinese people via Hong Kong. In 1853, work was begun in Brazil. The Society also participated with other mission boards in Nepal and Sierra Leone missions.
Bible translation and publishing were important functions of the Society. By William Carey's death in 1834, it had already translated the entire Bible into forty languages and dialects. Joshua Marshman translated the Bible into Chinese and prepared a Chinese grammar and dictionary. In addition, many sacred texts of the Chinese and Hindus were translated into English. The Society's publishing arm, the Carey Press, was in 1847 amalgamated with the Kingsgate Press of the Baptist Union of Great Britain and Ireland to form the Carey Kingsgate Press Limited.
90 Reels of microfilm (Society minutes, records of Society committees, Home Office correspondence, and missionary journals and correspondence.)
7 Sheets of Microfiche (Calendar of missionary correspondence relating to the India, Africa, China, and West Indies missions of the Baptist Missionary Society, corresponding to microfilm reels 35-89.)
1 Reel of microfilm ((Reel A, not included in the count of 90 reels of documents) contains a Guide printed by the Historical Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and a comprehensive Catalog identifying each letter included in the Missionary Correspondence. )
Language of Materials
Arrangement and Description
The following was primarily taken from the published guide by the Historical Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The 7 sheets of microfiche consist of a calendar of missionary correspondence relating to the India, Africa, China, and West Indies missions of the Baptist Missionary Society, corresponding to microfilm reels 35-89. The fiche was filmed from the original catalog prepared by the Society in 1964-1965. The catalog notes, in addition to loose correspondence, some bound volumes of correspondence, reports, and publications, and topical files such as candidate applications. These papers were resorted after World War II when bombing and hasty salvaging efforts destroyed all provenance. They were rearranged into units under the missionaries' names, with all papers relating to that missionary filed under his name. Very few post-1840 papers survive, although this is assumed to be accountable to poor contemporary filing rather than to World War II bombing.
The 90 reels of microfilm include four types of materials: Society minutes, records of Society committees, Home Office correspondence, and missionary journals and correspondence. The latter division of materials is arranged by geographical areas. Index cards identifying each main division and subdivision in these materials, including names of correspondents, appear on the film before each group of materials. An additional reel, Reel A, contains a guide printed by the Historical Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and a comprehensive catalog identifying each letter included in the Missionary Correspondence. The catalog is arranged alphabetically by name of missionary within each geographical area.
The majority of the more than 165,900 pages of original manuscript materials in this collection were clearly legible, but some pages were poor copies and difficult to read. In a few instances pages were illegible. The microphotographers in every case used care and skillful techniques to procure the best possible image of each manuscript in the collection. Some pages, which were illegible, were not microfilmed.
Calendar of missionary correspondence relating to the India, Africa, China, and West Indies missions of the Baptist Missionary Society, corresponding to microfilm reels 35-89.
The microfiche catalogs are arranged alphabetically by missionary, and each section is headed by a biographical sketch of that missionary. Topical files and bound volumes are described at the end of each catalog.
Sheets 1-4: "Catalogue of Papers Relating to South Asia [India] 1792-1914, and South East Asia [Ceylon] 1813-1914." These papers concern the Indian mission stations – Bengal, Bhutan, Burman, Calcutta, Dinajpur, Hindustan, Orissa, and Serampore, among others. This catalog corresponds to microfilm reels 35-54. Includes significant correspondence from:
Sheet 5: "Catalogue of Papers Relating to Sierra Leone 1795-1796, Cameroons 1840-1887, and Congo and Angola 1878-1914." This catalog corresponds to microfilm reels 71-89. Includes significant correspondence from:
Congo and Angola
Sheet 6: "Catalogue of Papers Relating to China, 1860-1914." This catalog corresponds to microfilm reels 55-60. Includes significant correspondence from:
Sheet 7: "Catalogue of Papers Relating to the West Indies, 1813-1914." This catalog corresponds to microfilm reels 61-70. Includes significant correspondence from:
Reel A, not counted in the 90 reels of BMS records, is the index reel, contains the "Guide and Comprehensive Catalog."
The materials for this collection were purchased by the Center.
No accession number.
- Allen, Isaac, 1771-1844.
- Baptist Missionary Society.
- Baptists -- England
- Baptists -- England -- History.
- Baptists -- Missions.
- Bentley, William Holman, 1855-1905.
- Carey, William, 1761-1834.
- Chamberlain, John, 1777-1821.
- China -- History -- Boxer Rebellion, 1899-1901.
- China -- History.
- Comber, Thomas James, 1852-1887.
- Evangelistic work -- India.
- Fuller, Andrew, 1754-1815.
- Fuller, Joseph Jackson, 1825 1908.
- Great Britain -- Church history -- 19th century.
- Great Britain -- Church history.
- Grenfell, George, 1849-1906.
- Indigenous church administration
- Jones, Alfred George.
- Judson, Adoniram, 1788-1850.
- Knibb, William, 1803-1845.
- Marshman, Joshua, 1768-1837.
- Missionaries -- Appointment, call, and election.
- Missionaries -- Great Britain.
- Missions -- Educational work.
- Missions -- Africa.
- Missions -- Angola.
- Missions -- Bahamas.
- Missions -- Belize.
- Missions -- Cameroon.
- Missions -- Caribbean Area.
- Missions -- Central America.
- Missions -- China.
- Missions -- Congo (Democratic Republic).
- Missions -- Dominican Republic.
- Missions -- Europe.
- Missions -- Finance.
- Missions -- France.
- Missions -- Germany.
- Missions -- Haiti.
- Missions -- India.
- Missions -- Italy.
- Missions -- Jamaica.
- Missions -- Norway.
- Missions -- Palestine.
- Missions -- Sierra Leone.
- Missions -- Sri Lanka.
- Missions -- Switzerland.
- Missions -- Trinidad
- Missions -- West Indies.
- Missions, British.
- Polygamy -- Congo (Democratic Republic)
- Richard, Timothy,
- Rouse, George Henry,
- Underhill, Edward Bean, 1813-1901.
- Ward, William.
- Wenger, John, 1811-1880.
- Collection 223 Records of the Baptist Missionary Society
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note