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Overseas Missionary Fellowship (China Inland Mission) Records

 Collection
Identifier: CN 215

Brief Description

Correspondence, minutes, directories, newsletters, brochures, photographs, book manuscripts, slides, photo albums, and other materials which document the history of the North American branch of the mission. Materials cover the origins of the mission's North American branch; its church planting, evangelistic, medical, educational, and literature work in China until the time of its expulsion in 1951; its reorganization from China Inland Mission into Overseas Missionary Fellowship; its work since 1951 in Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan and other countries.Among the people featured are: William Borden, Chiang Kai-Shek, J.O. Fraser, George Gibb, Arthur Glasser, Robert Hall Glover, Dixon E. Hoste, George Hunter, Frank Houghton, John and Isobel Kuhn, J.O. Sanders, John and Elizabeth Stam, and James Hudson Taylor. The collection also includes twenty films and thousands of photographs (prints and slides).

Dates

  • Created: 1853, 1886-1990, 1997, undated
  • Other: Majority of material found in 1889-1990

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

The folders noted below are restricted and cannot be used without the written permission of the donor until after the date noted. This restriction does not apply to active members of the Overseas Missionary Fellowship.

5-10 See Folder 5-11

5-13 See Folder 5-14

Requests for permission should be directed to:

  • U.S.A. Director Overseas Missionary Fellowship, 10 West Dry Creek Circle, Littleton, CO 80120

    Forms to be sent to the contact person should be obtained from the staff in the Reading Room.

    Folders 5-10, 5-12 and 5-13 contain materials on permanent loan to the Center from Overseas Missionary Fellowship.

    J. Hudson Taylor's Bible and Chinese New Testament, stored in the Center Library, are also on permanent loan.

    The materials in Folders 5-10 and 5-13 cannot be used because of their fragility. Copies of the materials in Folder 5-10 are located in Folder 5-11; copies of items in Folder 5-13 are in Folder 5-14.

    Some of the personnel cards in folders 4-82 through 4-102 have been removed and copies substituted, with certain information blacked out. The original cards will be put back in each folder when 25 years have passed from the date of the youngest document in that folder.
  • Organizational History

    Nondenominational evangelical mission agency, founded in England as China Inland Mission in 1865 by James Hudson Taylor; the North American Council was founded in 1889. The mission focused its effort on evangelism and church planting in rural communities of inland China until begin expelled in 1950 by Chinese Communists. The mission was later renamed Overseas Missionary Fellowship and began working in other Asian countries, at first in their Chinese communities and then their broader populations. The U.S. Home Council was established in 1901 and incorporated in 1932, administratively under the North American Council until 1969. The Home Council oversaw the screening of candidates, coordinating prayer and information distribution.

    There were fifteen missions in Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and Norway, which were begun in large part by people inspired by Taylor's example or which began work in China in alliance with the CIM. While the missions were autonomous in their own home countries, their workers were virtually a part of the CIM staff in China. Of the 1,104 CIM workers in 1950, for example, 394 were from these associated missions.

    James Hudson Taylor and the founding of China Inland Mission

    The single most important person in the formation of the China Inland Mission (CIM) was James Hudson Taylor (1832-1905). Taylor was born in Barnsley, England, to James and Amelia Hudson Taylor. He was the oldest of five children: William Shepard, Amelia Hudson (later Mrs. Benjamin Broomhall), Theodore, and Louise Shepard (later Mrs. William Walker), but only Hudson and his sisters lived to adulthood. Hudson's father was an apothecary and Methodist lay preacher who had wanted to be a missionary to China. Both his parents were devout Christians who had prayed that their son would preach the Gospel in the Middle Kingdom.

    [something missing here]

    The next six years were difficult. The actions taken by the CES administration proved repeatedly to be confusing, erratic, and financially irresponsible, finally causing Taylor to resign in 1857. He had been traveling on evangelization tours, often with at least one companion. He even tried to cross the battle lines to reach Taiping-held Nanking (now called Nanjing). He began to adopt the dress and hair style of a Chinese scholar and tried in other ways to make his evangelism attractive. He developed other principles from his experience, such as no mission should base its work on borrowed money. While in China, he met and married Maria Dyer (January 1858), a missionary teacher and the daughter of missionaries. In 1860, the family returned to England. Taylor's health had been broken by disease, overwork, and stress, and he had to return home to recover.

    In England, as he recovered, prepared a revised Chinese translation of the New Testament, and studied to become a doctor, he reflected on the lessons he had learned in China. He came to feel that a new mission society was needed because the existing ones were too tied to old methods and strategies. He envisioned a mission with headquarters in China (rather than in Great Britain) and dedicated to going into areas where no other Christian group was active (such as China's eleven inland provinces). The mission would have no fundraising programs, but would, like the orphanages run by George Mueller, depend on prayer and God's faithfulness for support. The mission would not guarantee the support of any work but funds that were received would be given out according to need. Candidates would be accepted from any Protestant denomination, provided they could sign the mission's statement of faith. In 1865, he formed the China Inland Mission and people who knew of this mission began to send contributions.

    Significant events in the mission’s history:

  • 1865: James Hudson Taylor founds China Inland Mission in England
  • May 26, 1866: Taylor left England for China with his family and sixteen workers aboard the Lammermuir
  • 1866: By the end of the year, twenty-four workers were active in four stations
  • 1868: Taylor moved from Hangzhou to Yangchow to be better situated for starting work in the interior. The presence of "foreign devils" in the city caused rioting.
  • 1872: A council of management of the home department was set up in England
  • 1873: Shanghai became the base for the headquarters of the mission
  • 1881: A school for the primary and secondary education of the children of missionaries was begun in Chefoo (new spelling, Yantai)
  • 1887: Henry W. Frost invites Taylor to visit North America to talk about China missions
  • 1888: Taylor visits the United States and Canada, recruits the first party of fourteen North Americans to be CIM missionaries, and travels with them to China in October
  • 1889: North America Home Council for CIM formed
  • 1890: Australia Home Council for CIM formed
  • 1893: Separate directors were appointed in Toronto and Philadelphia for Canada and the United States, with the North American Council over both
  • 1894: New Zealand Home Council for CIM formed
  • 1901: A council was set up, headquartered in Philadelphia, to supervise the mission's work in the United States
  • 1902: Taylor retired as General Director
  • 1915: 1,063 workers were located in 227 stations in China
  • 1932: The U.S. Council was incorporated under U.S. law
  • 1934: 1,368 missionaries were serving at 364 stations in China. The mission staff also included hundreds of Chinese pastors, teachers, colporteurs, chapel keepers, and Bible women.
  • 1942: 1,263 missionaries serving in China
  • 1942: The headquarters was evacuated out of Shanghai to escape the Japanese army. An emergency headquarters was set up in Chungking (new spelling, Chongqing), the same city where the Chinese government had relocated.
  • 1943: South Africa Home Council for CIM formed
  • 1945: The staff moved back to Shanghai
  • 1950: 1,104 missionaries, 757 of whom were in China
  • 1950: The General Director finally decided that further work in China was impossible because of harassment of missionaries and Chinese Christians by the Communist government, and ordered all missionaries to leave the country
  • 1950: 1,104 missionaries, of whom 757 were in China. 1950: CIM home council started in Switzerland
  • 1950: 1,104 missionaries, of whom 757 were in China. 1951: A temporary headquarters was set up in Hong Kong, mainly to oversee the withdrawal of the missionaries from China
  • November 1951: Conference held in Bournemouth, England, to discuss the future of the mission. (This was the culmination of several meetings held by members of the various home councils and the returning missionaries.) It was decided that the mission would continue to exist and the mission's workers would be sent to new fields in Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Taiwan; (later Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong were added). A new headquarters was set up in Singapore, and the name of the mission was changed to The China Inland Mission Overseas Missionary Fellowship, later shortened to Overseas Missionary Fellowship. The relationships with the associated missions were terminated. Eventually, similar associations were worked out with the Borneo Evangelical Mission, the Bible and Medical Fellowship, and the Indian Evangelical Mission.
  • 1953: Last western CIM worker leaves China
  • October 14, 1954: At a meeting of the mission's overseas council attended by field superintendents, home directors, and the headquarters staff, the mission was reorganized. After wrestling again with the question of whether the mission should continue to exist, the council reaffirmed the need for the mission, but changed its structure so that non-Western Christians could become full members and set up home councils in their own countries. The main emphasis of the OMF was to continue to be evangelism, but support would also be given to a literature program, medical services, radio and TV outreach, student work, and linguistic work.
  • 1965: Japan, Singapore, and Malaysia Home Councils formed
  • 1966: Hong Kong and Philippines Home Councils formed
  • 1967: German and Netherlands Home Councils formed
  • 1969: The council for North America was finally dissolved and the U.S. and Canadian councils became completely autonomous

    Ministry emphasis (from the OMF website, taken in January 2004)
  • OMF is a global network of Christians proclaiming the glory of Jesus Christ among East Asia`s peoples through fervent prayer, loving service, and personal witness. Through God`s grace and power we work to see a biblical church movement in each people group of East Asia.
  • Started as the China Inland Mission by Hudson Taylor, OMF serves throughout East Asia in a variety of ministries, including evangelism and discipleship, starting new churches, tentmaking, student ministry, English teaching and mobilizing and equipping Asian churches for world missions.
  • Our relationship with national churches provides meaningful opportunities for partnership in long-term and short-term outreach activities.

    Geographical emphasis:

    Up until 1950, mission was concerned almost solely with China. Following 1950, developed programs throughout East Asia, including Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Korea, Taiwan, Cambodia, Myanmar, Indonesia. Laos, Macau, Vietnam.

    Alternate names:
  • China Inland Mission (1865-1951)
  • Overseas Missionary Fellowship (1951- )

    Other significant information:

    The government of the mission began to assume the form it retained until 1950, except for minor changes. A 1923 handbook described that government in this way:
  • "The China Inland mission consists of a body of missionaries laboring in China, and of the members of the home departments of the mission. The missionaries are members, not agents, of the mission, and the direction of the work at home and in China is undertaken by one or more Directors, those in China being themselves missionaries.
  • "The mission ... is carried on under the direction of a General Director, assisted by those who at his invitation are associated with him in the conduct of the work. It has its Home and China Departments, which all work in mutual co operation.
  • "In the management of the Home Department, the General Director is assisted, and in his absence is represented, by a Home Director; he is further assisted by Secretaries, and is advised by a Council. This department receives applications from candidates, accepts as probationers those who appear suitable, and facilitates their going to China. It does what in it lies to promote missionary interest at home, and receives contributions for the work, which it remits to China, retaining what is necessary for home expenses.
  • "In the management of the China Department, the General Director is also China Director, and as such may be assisted, and in his absence is represented, by a Director or Directors, or by a Deputy Director. He is also advised by a Council composed exclusively of missionaries, including among them all the Superintendents of Provincial Districts, as presently described. The Department receives probationers on arrival in China, admits to membership of the mission those who approve themselves as suitable, locates the workers, distributes the funds, and directs the operations of the mission in the field.

    The further arrangements in China may be summarized as follows:
  • "A missionary in charge superintends each station or district, and directs the operations of those residing and working in his district.
  • "A number of these districts form together a provincial district, and over each a superintendent is appointed, who takes a general oversight of all the work within his district. In matters of gravity, he will generally call together the senior missionaries in his district for prayer and conference.
  • "The various departments, besides managing the affairs of the mission arising within their own sphere, also mutually assist one another with advice in any matter relating to the general well being of the mission.

    See additional historical background; also check in External Documents section, including lists of:
  • Associated missions
  • Headquarters locations (international, Canada, U.S.)
  • Executive officers (China, international, Canada, U.S.)

    Also available is an extensive list of CIM/OMF personnelemph> for whom there are completed cards or forms with biographical information; also check in External Documents section.
  • Extent

    11.4 Linear Feet

    18 boxes

    Language of Materials

    English

    Arrangement Note

    The documents in this collection include correspondence, reports, photographs, minutes of meetings, films, slide sets, book manuscripts, deeds, directories, newsletters, brochures, personnel files, and surveys. They are mainly records of the United States branch of the Overseas Missionary Fellowship (China Inland Mission) and were received from that branch. They are listed alphabetically in the Container List and Location Records within this guide and, as far as possible, are arranged alphabetically within the boxes. However, because of differing sizes in documents, it has been necessary in some cases to store some folders of material first according to size, then alphabetically.

    The folder titles have, wherever possible, been those originally supplied by the mission. In many cases, the Archives' staff has expanded on the title to provide a clear heading. The prefix "U. S. Council," which precedes many folder titles, was devised by the Archives' staff and was added to the titles of materials originating solely from the mission's United States staff in order that all these files would be together in the alphabetical arrangement. The files of the U. S. branch naturally contain information about the activities of other branches and about the work in China.

    Among the subjects covered by this collection are: the life and work of James Hudson Taylor; the origins and development of the CIM; the origins, development, activities, and personnel of the CIM branch in the United States, and, to a lesser extent, Canada; the ways mission policy was formulated; the nature of the missionary experience in China; the various ways used to preach the Gospel; CIM's medical and educational work; the reactions over time of Chinese and Western civilizations to each other; China's religious, political, and military history from the late 19th century to 1950; the changing patterns of society in different parts of China; Communism in China; World War I and II; changes going on in China's neighbors, such as Tibet, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Formosa (Taiwan), Malaysia, and Japan; the education of missionary children; the recruitment and training of missionaries; the expulsion of missionaries from China after the Communist takeover; and CIM's changeover from its work in China to that in other Asian countries.

    The documents fall into eight series:

  • Correspondence and other papers of James Hudson Taylor (Folders 5-11,12,13,14, 18-2)
  • Directories of CIM personnel (Folders 1-14 to 2-11, 8-1 to 9-2)
  • Publications of CIM, including published reports, slide sets and films (Folders 3-11 to 3-47, 7-1, 9-3 to 12-17, 17-4, 17-5; Audio tape File, Film File, Oversize File, Slide File)
  • Reference material (Folders 5-6,7,8,99, 18-1)
  • Minutes of conferences between two or more CIM councils (Folders 1-1 to 1-10, 5-1,2, 12-18,19,20,21)
  • Records of the headquarter's staff, based somewhere in China until 1950 (Folders 2-13 to 3-10, 5-3,4,5, 12-22,23,24,25,26, Oversize File)
  • Records of the staff of CIM's United States branch, including correspondence of missionaries from the United States (Folders 3-71 to 4-103, 5-15 to 5-25, 6-1 to 6-11, 12-27 to 17-1, Oversize File)
  • Records of CIM's Canadian branch (Folders 3-48 to 3-70, 17-2, 3)
  • Arrangement and Description

    Papers of James Hudson Taylor

    There are several letters of Taylor's in Folder 5-10 (copies in Folder 5-11), some of which he wrote all or in part, some of which were taken in dictation by his wife. This correspondence, which is to CIM supporters Frost and Stevens in the United States, touches some on his travels on behalf of the mission but mostly deals with the details of setting up a base for CIM in the United States and the sending of Americans to China. Folder 5-12 contains many important documents of CIM history, including the 1890 revised constitution of the mission, which set up departments of the CIM countries other than Great Britain; the 1894 bylaws; and letters dealing with Taylor's retirement in 1903 and arrangements for the succession. Folder 5-13 (with copy in Folder 5-14) contains a very interesting notebook of recollections of Taylor's mother Amelia, describing his first departure as a missionary for China in 1853. It is unclear whether the notebook was written by her at the time or later or whether it is a copy made by someone else. Folder 18-2 contains photocopies of correspondence, clippings, certificates, and Taylor’s engagement calendar from his 1888-1889 visit to the North America to establish a branch of the China Inland Mission. These copies were given to the Archives by David Mitchell, then Canadian director of OMF. The originals were in England.

    Folders 4-17, 4-43, and 4-49 all contain information about the publication and distribution of a biography of Taylor by his son Howard. Also in Folder 4-43 is a list (ca. 1929) of United States seminaries, Bible schools, and YMCA leaders.

    Directories

    The contents of the CIM directories vary over time. However, they always have the names of missionaries serving in China and the names of stations in China. Other types of information included in later directories are: members of staff in the different home countries, CIM workers who had died in China, members of the headquarters staff, retired workers, furloughed workers, workers from other missions under CIM direction, schools and seminaries supported by CIM, the personnel at each mission station and the date of the founding of that station. Up until 1937, the directories were issued in six-month intervals; after that they were for a year. Several of the folders from the 1940s and later also include a list of the children of CIM missionaries. The directories were intended in part as an aid to prayer, so they list the concerns and activities of the mission as well as the names of workers and stations. Another aid to prayer is in folder 9-3, a birthday book that lists missionaries by their birthday, so that supporters could pray for them on that day.

    Publications and Reports

    Collection 215 contains a very rich set of the brochures, pamphlets, tracts, films, slide sets, and other materials that the mission published to explain its work to the public and to raise support. The scrapbook in Folder 7-1 contains booklets about Islam and other religions of China, aborigine tribes, illiteracy, Tibet, leprosy, work with women, speaking in tongues, the experience of a German mission in China during World War I, work among soldiers, medical activities, banditry, slavery, and the Boxer rising. There are also several tracts about the work of individual missionaries. The scrapbook also contains sets of the application forms the mission used for screening recruits, the forms used in medical examinations, lists of the items a new missionary should bring, prayer letters, book catalogs of CIM publications, and form letters to supporters. More scrapbooks are in folders 11-1 and 11-2, this time from the OMF’s Filipino press. These include tracts, calendars and other material printed in languages of the Philippines, along with photographs of the press staff. Folder 12-7 contains some reports from the Filipino press. Folders 3-12 to 3-38 and 11-4 contain loose tracts, many of them copies of the tracts in the notebook in Folder 7-1. For most of these folders, the existing system of arrangement was maintained by the Archives; that is, one set is arranged by subject (folders 3-14 to 3-25) and another set is arranged alphabetically by author. Folder 3-14 includes information of the CIM's home council in New Zealand, the work of George Hunter, the martyrdom of John and Betty Stam, and life in Chongqing during World War II. Folder 3-24 includes a very interesting history of the translation of the Bible into the Tibetan language. Folder 3-25 contains a description of the mission's work among the Nosu, Wa, Miao (also called the Hmong), Kado (also known as Katu), Kaka, Lahu, Shan, Min Chia, and Kachin tribes. Folders 3-39 to 3-47 are reports on various activities of the mission, including the reports of the work of several hospitals. The reports for the hospital in Kaifeng, Honan (new spelling, Henan) in Folder 3-43, for example, give detailed clinical notes on the diseases of patients and the kinds of treatment given. Folder 11-4 contains additional tracts added to the collection in 1997 that are in no special arrangement. Many of the tracts in this folder are post-1960.

    There are several manuscripts on CIM-OMF history in folders 9-6 through 10-6, some of which were not published. Particularly interesting is the autobiography of USA home director Henry Frost in folders 10-2 to 10-6. This manuscript was not published, but it served as the basis for Howard and Geraldine Taylor’s 1938 book, Henry W. Frost and the China Inland Mission. The typescript tells the story of his life, including memories of D.L. Moody and A.T. Pierson and his own evangelistic work. Most of the book deals in great detail with the beginning of CIM’s branch in North America and the development of the North American branch until Frost’s retirement in 1929. The manuscript was apparently started in 1932 and finished by 1936 or earlier. Folder 10-6 contains what is called an index of the book also finished by about 1936. It is actually not an index as such, but a summary of the major topics of the book, with page numbers, in the order in which they appear in the book. However, it apparently was made using a different manuscript than the one in this collection, because the page numbers in the index do not match those in the manuscript. At first the discrepancy is very slight, but by the end of the index there is a more than one hundred page difference between where the index says a subject is covered and where it can in fact be found in the manuscript.

    One Vision Only in folder 10-1 is a biography of Isobel Kuhn, in essentially the same form as it was published. The Missionary of Tomorrow in folder 9-7 is a ca. 1962 compilation of opinions and predictions of missionaries from Southeast Asia and Japan about what will be the opportunities and responsibilities of missionaries in the future. Also in folder 9-7 is the manuscript of Battles for Christ in the Philippines, which is an autobiography by Filipino pastor Ramon T. Cenit. Folder 9-6 contains a compilation of Arthur Matthew’s editorials from East Asia’s Millions.

    For a time, one of the mission’s most popular ways of telling supporters and potential supporters in the United States about the work of the mission was through slide/tape programs. These were usually narrated by missionaries and combined a kind of travelogue about a particular country with details of the mission’s work there and the needs of the church. Tape T2 and slides S54-S120 are a program about the OMF’s work in Indonesia, mostly the island of Java. The script for the program is in folder 12-5. Although the Archives did not keep all the slide/tape programs, it did retain a representative sample. View a chart of other complete or almost complete slide/tape programs in the collection, also available in External Documents.

    There are also several other programs for which there are only scripts in folders 12-2 through 12-17 or audio tapes. The scripts for slide/tape programs are in folders 12-2 through 12-17 (where they are arranged by country) and folders 17-4 and 17-5 (which are arranged alphabetically by title). Folder 12-1 contains scripts for a filmstrip about the withdrawal from China and the beginning of work in Malaya and Thailand. Folder 12-6 has a script for a set of slides in slide box 19. For most of the scripts, however, there are no slides. Some of these scripts may in fact be lists of descriptions of the photos in the folders found marked with an asterisk (*) in the photo location record of this guide. There are no slide or tapes for most of the scripts in box 12. The scripts in box 12 are for the most part much earlier than those in box 17. Folder 17-4 includes scrips about Bill Harris’s work among the Tamil people in Malaysia and Singapore.

    The collections contains hundreds of other slides, most of which appear to have been part of slide/tape sets at one time. They are described further in slide location record of this guide.

    The films in the collection were, for the most part, intended to be shown to supporters of the mission to inform them about the mission’s work or a particular part of it. Often they were shown in churches by a furloughed missionary or other representative form the mission. Here is a brief description of each.

    Reference Material

    This section consists of five folders of material. Four of the folders, in box 5, contain material about the Mongolian language including the notes and manuscripts of a CIM worker who was translating a Mongolian-Russian-German dictionary into a Mongolian-English dictionary. The fifth folder, 18-1, consists of a photocopy of the reminiscences of two of the original Cambridge Seven missionaries, Cecil and Arthur Polhill-Turner, about their years in China from the 1880s through the 1920s. Both were graduates of the Eton, the public (that is, private) school and the manuscript was apparently intended for Eton alumni who supported the mission. This photocopy was sent to the Archives by the OMF English office. The manuscript describes the early days of the Cambridge Seven, how they went to China, the Polhills’ work in Szechwan, Sining (Xining), Tatsienlu (Kangting) and other parts of China, as well as describing the Boxer Uprising and the 1911 revolution.

    Conferences

    The conference of North American Officers was a meeting of the council members of CIM's United States and Canadian branches to iron out any difficulties that had arisen out of financial, publication, or recruitment policy, to discuss needs, and to plan. Other matters of common interest, such as government policies, were also discussed at these meetings. Folder 1-7 contains an inter-esting memorandum describing a briefing given by a U.S. State Department official to representatives from Christian organizations about the internal situation in China and how it would affect missionary work.

    The two conferences documented in Folders 1-10, 5-1,2 were of the greatest importance in the mission's history. Both were concerned with the future of the mission once its workers had been forced out of China. (folder 12-18 contains John Kuhn’s report on the final evacuation from China.) At the February 1951 meeting held in Kelorama, Australia (folder 1-10), directors from all the home countries came together to discuss possible changes in the mission's governance and administrative style as well as potential new fields and the level of support in the home countries. This was followed by the November 1951 meeting in Bournemouth, England (folders 5-1,2, 12-18), for which extensive preparations were made. Surveys were made of other possible fields in Thailand, Philippines, Japan, Singapore, North Borneo, Sarawak, Indonesia, Formosa, and Malaysia (folders 5-3,4). A similar survey was done in 1957 of lower Laos (folders 6-12). The officers of the headquarters staff and the home councils debated their recommendations before coming to the meeting. Folder 5-2 includes some of the suggestions made at regional conferences and memos of the discussions held in the U.S. and Canadian branches. There is also an interesting memo in Folder 1-4 which describes the problems the CIM staff thought they would be dealing with in the post war world. The Bournemouth Conference was attended by directors of home councils, members of the China council, and many others involved in the work of the mission. Folder 5-1 contains a very full set of minutes of the deliberations of the meeting, which reviewed the organization's goals and policies and determined that the work would continue. Folder 12-18 contains reports on the conference sent to missionaries after the event

    By way of comparison, the reports of typical conferences of missionaries in a particular field can be seen in Folders 3-39,40, and 12-19. References to periodic gatherings of representatives of the whole mission, such as those held in 1890, 1900, and 1907, can be found in the minutes of the China Council (folders 2-36 to 2-55).

    Headquarters

    The documents in this section consist almost entirely of minutes of meetings and correspondence from the headquarters staff to all the home councils to keep them informed about developments in China. Of the minutes, perhaps the most interesting are those of the China Council. The Council was an advisory body to the general director which met four times a year. It consisted of the General Director, the heads of the provincial districts, the deputy China director, other headquarters staff, and missionaries as appointed by the director. Representatives from other missions associated with CIM or whose personnel were under CIM supervision also served on the Council. The Council minutes for the early years consist mainly of information on the arrival, departure, movements, marriages, and deaths of missionaries; copies of minutes of home council meetings; personnel matters; the granting of furloughs; creation of new mission fields and stations; relations with other missions; applications of persons living in China for staff positions; and relations with the Chinese government. There is an interesting discussion dated 4/8/1915 about the mission's attitude toward speaking in tongues. The files also contain information on the representative meetings of the mission held in 1890, 1900, and 1907.

    After World War I, the minutes contain much more information and debate on policy matters, as well as more financial reports. Thus, the material dated March 12, 1926, discusses the CIM's withdrawal from the National Christian Council of China because of its alleged modernist tendencies, or the November, 1927, discussion of the development of a self supporting self governing Chinese church growing out of CIM's stations. Folder 2-40 contains the minutes of a joint meeting of the Council with the home directors, who were visiting China at the time. Most of the meetings described in the minutes in Folders 2-51,52,53,54 took place in Chongqing, where the CIM had its headquarters during the latter part of the war between Japan and China.

    The minutes, memos, and notes from staff meetings contained in Folders 2-56 to 2-66 cover the years 1942-1952, and consist mainly of the reports and activities of missionaries coping with the upheavals caused by World War II and, later, the Chinese civil war.

    The letters to home councils are more personal attempts by the director in China, or one of his subordinates, to provide for home council members in the various countries supporting CIM's work a running account of the activities of the mission and the conditions in China. Topics covered include deaths, political and military conflicts in China, food supply problems and famine, travel conditions, progress in various types of evangelism, Communist activities, work at the language school, floods, the developments in specific fields, settlement in Shanghai, the Japanese movement in Manchuria, and the opening of new headquarters in 1931. One interesting October 1930 letter describes Chiang Kai shek's baptism. Several letters discuss recent kidnappings of missionaries and the attempts to get them back safely. Every April letter contains a list of the stations to which new missionaries have been assigned. Until 1946, the letters are numbered 1 to 100. When 100 is reached, the series starts over again. Folders 13-1,2,3,4 contain, among other correspondence, examples of circular letters to home directors for 1950s and 1960.

    The correspondence in Folders 2-18,19, 2-31,32,33,34, and 12-24 is mostly concerned with the problems caused for the mission by the Communist victory in China, such as whether the mission should close down its work completely, how missionaries (often accused of being foreign agents) could be evacuated smoothly and safely, and what could and should be done for the Chinese Christians. The last few letters in Folders 2-19, 2-33,34 are little more than lists of which missionaries were leaving their stations and which had arrived safely in Hong Kong. There is also some information in these files on the beginnings of what was later called the Three Self Movement. Folder 12-24 includes a variety of items related to the mission’s evacuation. Included are circular letters to home directors, letters to missionaries in the field, special reports, and other materials that tried to keep missionaries informed about events, mission policy, and the procedures for leaving China.

    There are a few other documents of interest from China. Folders 2-15,16,17 contain copies of the manuals given to new incoming missionaries which described for them the CIM hierarchy, regulations, emergency procedures, and furlough policy. Some manuals also contain advice for probationary staff, junior missionaries, and senior missionaries. Folders 3-1 to 3-10 contain newsletters about the work in China. These often highlight the work of a particular station or missionary. They also contain information on births, deaths, baptisms, prayer requests, financial reports, new Chinese words, marriages, and occasionally maps. Another list of marriages can be found in the register in Folder 2 35. This register contains brief entries on all CIM staff married in Shanghai from 1890-1950. Each entry includes names of bride, groom, witnesses, acting parents, and date. Late entries also include photographs. The surveys in Folders 5-3,4 have already been described above. A similar survey in Folder 5-5 describes the anticipated situation in Japan as a possible mission field after the conclusion of World War II. Folder 2-13 contains an interesting item currency printed by the CIM. These promissory notes were used by the mission in very unsettled or disturbed areas where it was difficult to get "official" money. Folder 12-25 contains clippings from Chinese, American and Norwegian papers about such topics as the Kuomintang’s 1927 north march and the 1965 centennial of the mission.

    The mission has a very strong organizational identity, so it is not surprising that people who at one time belonged to it formed alumni associations. Folder 14-12 contains the newsletter for people who at one time were missionaries. Folder 14-11 contains the newsletter for former missionary kids who attended one of the mission’s Chefoo schools. These newsletters consist mostly of reports from various people on what they have been doing. Folder 14-11 also has an undated, unsigned photocopy of a typed manuscript, apparently by a teacher, about the evacuation of Chefoo from China to India during World War II.

    U.S. Council | Internal Administrative Records

    The minutes of the meetings of the members of the United States Council (also known as the Philadelphia Council) begin in 1902, shortly after the group's formation in 1901 (folders 6-3,4, 4-59 to 4-81). Before a separate council for the United States was formed, the Toronto Council was responsible for all of North America until 1907, so their minutes from 1888 to 1901 would also be relevant (folder 3-48). Both councils remained subordinate to the North American Council until 1969. Folder 6-3 contains a large ledger with the minutes for 1902-1943. In the front is an index of subjects covered, but it only covers a few years. The first entries in the minute’s book are handwritten, but most are typed pages pasted in. They deal largely with evaluation of mission candidates, the arrival and departure of missionaries and their activities in China (very briefly noted), relationships with other Christian organizations, and financial reports. The minutes for the years 1943-1952 in Folder 6-4 are much the same. In 1932, the U.S. Council incorporated to form China Inland Mission, Inc. This was done to obtain for the mission the protection and advantages offered corporations under United States law. The board of trustees of the corporation largely overlapped with the membership of the Council. Minutes of the corporation trustees' meetings (folders 4-59 to 4 81), which usually occurred at the same place and on the same day as Council meetings, were concerned with election of officers, financial reports, estate settlements, and details related to the organization's legal status. Folders 3-75,76,77 and 14-8 contain some of the legal records of the corporation, including the charter, articles of incorporation, by-laws, and amendments to the articles of incorporation. The other set of minutes in Folders 4-78,79,80,81 are of the staff meetings held in the Pennsylvania office. These are mainly concerned with the distribution or redistribution of the work load, prayer requests, publications, and events in China.

    Several files contain additional information on the Council's finances and assets. Folder 3-14 contains books kept by Henry Frost detailing where and how funds were spent. Financial reports, as mentioned above, are in the minutes of the Council and of the corporation. Folders 4-54, 6-1,2,8,9,10 contain legal papers to and correspondence about property of the mission, including property acquired through bequests in wills. Particularly interesting is the data about the administration of the estate of William Borden in Folders 6-1,2. Included in this material is a long undated memo describing CIM's history, purpose, and administrative structure, along with statistics about its current activities. Folder 12-28 contains correspondence with the staff at the Crowell Trust about gifts the foundation made to the mission.

    Folder 6-5 is a potpourri of documents, a cross section that gives a good idea of the variety of the U.S. and Canadian staff activities. It includes reports on deputation work in the U.S. and Canada, lists of workers in various Canadian provinces, government regulations for returning to China, a memo on the proper age of missionaries, regulations for the raising of support for missionaries on furlough and for financing their return to China, description of methods for interviewing mission candidates, a list of recipients of the mission's annual reports, financial estimates of the remittances necessary to support children in Chefoo school, and a very interesting translation of a Nationalist Party document attacking the Christian church as harmful to China.

    Another potpourri can be found in folder 14-7. This contains various reports from the southwest region of the United States (California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona) to the U.S. office, as well as miscellaneous other documents, such as reports sent out from the national headquarters to the various regional representatives. The different regional representatives appeared for the mission at various conferences and other events, interviewed potential missionaries, talked to donors, and did whatever miscellaneous jobs were necessary. Also of interest is an excerpt from a book by Joseph Bayly which contains his conjecture about his influence of CIM missionary Arthur Taylor on the ministry of Billy Graham.

    Henry Frost's correspondence files (folders 4-15,16) contain mostly letters to him, but there are also a few from him. There are descriptions of various crises and problems, such as the refusal, in 1904-1905, of some missionaries returning to China to be vaccinated. The later letters in these files are concerned with Frost's transfer of authority to Glover and the reports made to Frost after his retirement about CIM work. Folder 10-2 through 10-6 contain Frost’s autobiography, which provides his perspective on many of these documents.

    Folders 5-18,19,20,21,22 contain correspondence about the boarding school in the U.S. run for children of missionaries in China. The letters are mainly about the site of the physical plant and maintenance costs.

    In 1968, the U.S. home director wrote a sympathetic and supportive editorial for the June issue East Asia Millions about Martin Luther King after King’s assassination. Folder 14-9 contains a memo from Glasser to the OMF staff justifying his action and describing reaction.

    Folders 4-57 and 12-26 contains handbooks, entitled Principles and Practices distributed in North America which described the history, policies and expectations of the mission, particularly its American branch. These were intended for candidates and missionaries and perhaps also for potential donors.

    The U.S. Council kept fairly detailed records on CIM missionaries from the United States. Folder 6-11 contains information about mission candidates giving mostly basic biographical and medical data. Up into 1922, the information is entered by hand into the register. After 1922, the entries consist of fastened in questionnaires. There is an alphabetical index of the names of applicants in the front of the book. Up until 1922, the entries also tell whether the candidate was accepted. The Council minutes in Folders 6-3,4 give brief evaluations of most candidates. Folders 16-3 through 16-7 contain forms labeled APost Council Information.@ These are brief questionnaires on each missionary filled out after the U.S. Council had interviewed and accepted them. They are similar to the forms in folder 6-11, but for a later period. Folders 16-3 and 16-4 are arranged by the order in which the candidates were accepted. Folders 16-5 to 16-7 are in alphabetical order but form two different series, since the forms in 16-5 are for people who left the mission later and their forms were removed and filed separately.

    Folders 4-82 to 4-102, and 15-1 through 16-2 contain the personnel cards kept by the staff on active missionaries. These cards give name, nationality, education, marital status, church affiliation, places of service in China, furloughs, and miscellaneous information. They form three different complete sets that do not overlap, so anyone searching for a particular person needs to check all three. The cards in series in folders 15-4 through 16-2 often have pages stapled to particular cards which contain much more information than the cards themselves. The materials in Folders 3-72,73, and 4-47 are mainly concerned with the arrivals and departures of missionaries. Some of the cables in Folders 3-72,73 are unclear, some are in code.

    U.S. Council | Relations with Other Home Councils

    As mentioned above, Folders 1-1 to 1-9 contain minutes of the periodic meetings of the North American Council. Also as mentioned above, there is information about the work in Canada in Folder 6-5. Other information includes correspondence with the Toronto editorial secretary about the distribution of free literature (folders 4-51,52). The minutes of the Toronto Council are described below.

    Folders 4-17,18 contain correspondence between the U.S. staff and W.H. Aldis, director of the British Home Council, about the circulation of the Taylor biography, changes in personnel, the quality of available candidates, travel by Council members, etc. There is also a copy of News From the Homeland, a bulletin about events in Great Britain put out by the British Council for its missionaries in China. Folder 4-44 contains correspondence between the United States and London branches about how many of the 200 missionaries being recruited in the early 1930s should come from North America. There are numerous excerpts from letters from those who went, apparently intended for publicity purposes, about why they felt called to go.

    Folder 4-103 contains a very interesting report on CIM's participation in the committee that was carrying on the work of the 1910 World Missionary Conference held in Edinburgh (and which later developed into the World Council of Churches). The mission's North American and Australasian Councils were very upset by some of the committee's actions, such as its decision not to encourage Protestant missions in South America because of the strong, long-established Roman Catholic presence there. The development of the debate over these complaints and CIM's eventual resignation from the Committee is documented by the excerpt in the folder.

    U.S. Council | Relations with the China Headquarters, later International Headquarters

    The material discussed here is mainly correspondence between the U.S. and headquarters staff as opposed to the headquarters’ minutes and correspondence discussed above, which were either form letters sent by headquarters to all home councils or materials relating solely to the administration of CIM's work in China. The correspondence of secretaries such as J.O. Fraser and James Stark (folders 4-27,28), the general director D.E. Hoste (folders 4-25,26), the assistant director W.H. Warren and deputy director George Gibb (folders 4-20,21, 5-16) are all concerned with such matters as potential new candidates, the activities of North American staff members, description of China Council meetings, relevant political developments in China, activities at various mission stations, and personnel needs. Folder 4-20 includes a very interesting report, dated May 1930, by a Miss Gemmell, in which she describes her impressions of the Chinese Communists, impressions she gathered while she was a prisoner of the Fifth Communist Army in western Kiangsi (new spelling, Jiangxi). The same folder contains much discussion about the proper training of candidates and the performance of those who reached the field. Also in this folder are letters about the mission's attempt to help the Porteous family, who had been captured by the Communists and were later released. The letters in Folders 4-22,23,24 are concerned with the funds available for the support of various missionaries. There is an interesting letter from the China Inter Mission, which was set up in India during World War II to assist missionaries evacuated from China.

    Folders in box 13 and 14 continue the correspondence between the two headquarters into the 1950s and 1960s. The exchange is almost exclusively between Arthur Glasser for the U.S. branch and J.O. Sanders and Arnold Lea for the international headquarters. Folders 13-1 through 13-4 contain the letters to and from Sanders. The correspondence starts when Glasser was still teaching at Columbia Bible College, about the time he had agreed to return to the mission as assistant home director for the United States. There are long typewritten and handwritten letters from both sides on the administration of the mission, the setting of policy, the work of individual missionaries, relations with different countries, etc. They provide a good picture of mission concerns and policy making procedures. The folders contains as well circular letters sent by the general director to all home directors. The correspondence in 14-1 between the Overseas director and the U.S. home director deal with various administrative matters, especially the acceptance, assignment, condition, furloughs, etc., of particular United States missionaries.

    U.S. Council | North American Missionaries in China

    There are many files which contain letters, reports, and notes sent back to the U.S. staff by American missionaries. These letters are usually informal descriptions of the missionaries' recent activities, although sometimes there are letters from the U.S. asking for information and letters back and forth about mission policy. Here are brief descriptions of some of the folders' contents and of other documents, arranged alphabetically by individual or entity:

  • Folder 5-15: Paul and Vivian Adolph. Medical missions in Shansi (new spelling, Shanxi) Province; birth of son Harold.
  • Tape T5: Ian Anderson, who made this tape probably between 1979 and 1980, describes how Christian workers used songs and posters in village evangelism work in China and Taiwan in the 1940s and 1950s. He sings several songs in Chinese and provides not a literal translation but a general description of the lyrics. The songs deal with sin, salvation, Christian life, and life after death.
  • Folder 3-79: Herman and Augusta Becker. An orphanage in Hunan (the Beckers were not CIM workers but were associated with the mission).
  • Folder 3-80 William Borden. Much of the correspondence is between Henry Frost and Borden, written when Borden was a teenager and a young man; it covers Borden's school work, his Christian beliefs, his training to be a missionary, and his trip up to his death in Egypt in 1913 on his way to China. Also in the file is a eulogy by Frost. More information about Borden can be found in Folders 6-1,2.
  • Folder 3-81: Ernest Carlburg. Description of his wedding.
  • Folder 3-82: Howard and May Cliff. A Christian revival in Shunteh.
  • Folders 4-1,10: Allyn and Leila Cooke. Much correspondence describing their work with the thru Lisu.
  • OS20: Tribesmen in Yunnan Province. There is a great deal of information about J.O. Fraser, who began the work. Folder 4-8 contains many notes apparently taken during the interviews with the Cookes when they returned to the U.S. on furlough. The oversize file contains a printed map of the area in which they worked and a chart of the individuals involved in the work.
  • Folder 4-11: G.T. and D.L. Denham. The growth of the church amidst the fierce civil war in Chowkow, Szechwan province (new spelling, Sichuan).
  • Folder 4-12: Arthur Dieffenbacher. A day in the life of a missionary in Anking (new spelling, Anqing).
  • Folder 4-13: Gertrude Dreyer. Many prayer letters, including one written during the Boxer conflict.
  • Folder 4-14: Friedenshort. This was a German Lutheran order active in China and associated with the CIM. There is a very interesting letter in Folder 4-14 which mentions briefly Adolph Hitler's appointment as chancellor of the German government. The letter also describes the order's work among orphans in China and Russia.
  • Folder 4-29: Maude Knight. Descriptions of life at CIM headquarters in Shanghai's international quarter; description of George Hunter and the six new missionaries (including Otto Schoerner) he was taking to the CIM's station in Sinkiang province (new spelling, Xinjiang Uygur Zizhiqu [Autonomous Region]).
  • Folder 4-30 through 4-40, 13-5: John and Isobel Kuhn. Mostly printed prayer letters about their work among thru the Lisu tribe in China and later in northern Thailand. Folder 4-40 contains a lengthy memoir by Isobel in which she describes her family's life and work among the Lisu, with special emphasis on her and her husband's courtship, marriage, and beginning of a family under missionary conditions, including the education of missionary children. The memoir also compares and contrasts Chinese and American attitudes toward sex and marriage. Folder 13-5 contains Isobel’s pocket diary for 1954 and information about her death and funeral in 1957. There is a brief reference in the last letter in the folder to Eileen O’Rourke, John’s second wife. The folder also refers to the work in Laos. There is a great deal of correspondence about various editorial changes in Kuhn’s last book, Ascent to the Tribes: Pioneering in North Thailand (1956).
  • Folder 13-6: Jessie McDonald. Letter written in 1970 which describes her experiences as a mission doctor in Tali, China, including descriptions of prominent Chinese Christian leaders and her work during World War II. The photos she mentions are in the Photo File labeled "OMF-China-5."
  • Folder 4-42: J.H. and F.M. Mellow. Prayer life; experiences in Siaoyi.
  • Folder 14-3: Hilda Riffel. Letters received by Riffel about the situation in the Chinese church after the missionaries left in 1951. Some were extracts gathered by the mission and sent to staff, others were letters from westerners living in China at the time.
  • Folder 4-45: A. and J. Robinson. Description of a boat ride up the Yang Tze River (new spelling, Chang Jiang); disruption caused by war between Nationalists and Communists.
  • Folder 5-25: Otto Schoerner. Description of his trip to Xinjiang Uygur Zizhiqu across the Gobi Desert.
  • Folder 14-4: H.A. and Gertrude Sibley. Letters about experiences in China from 1893-1911, including letters about the Boxer uprising and the revolution of 1911. The later letters are all typed copies, apparently made not too long after the original was received. The correspondence is apparently with family and not with mission.
  • Folder 14-5: C.E. Tweddell. Evangelistic activities in southern Jiangxi.
  • Folder 14-6: Elizabeth Wimer. Almost forty years’ worth of prayer letters about Wimer’s activities in Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, and the home office of the United States Council. (Photo Albums V and VI were compiled by her.)
  • Canadian Branch

    Folders 3-48 to 3-69 consist of copies of the minutes of the Toronto Council. The minutes discuss potential candidates, finances, publications, relations with the U.S. Council (sometimes called the Philadelphia Council), and the activities of Canadian missionaries in China. Folder 3-70 contains a speech by F.C.P. Dreyer on the correct way of training missionaries. Folders 17-2 and 17-3 contain the photocopies of pages from the candidate register that lists basic information about missionary candidates. Most, but not all, of these forms are for Canadian candidates. The forms themselves appear to be a kind of checklist used to make sure that missionaries had handled all necessary details before leaving for China. (Page 457 of the forms in Folder 17-2 contains the form for Sarah Alice Troyer, later Sarah Alice Troyer Young.)

    Provenance

    Created or gathered by Overseas Missionary Fellowship US Home Office until their transfer to the Billy Graham Center Archives, 1982-1993. Most of the materials in this collection were received from the United States Council of the Overseas Missionary Fellowship in 1982, 1984, 1986, 1990, 1991, and 1993. Some material was received from the Canadian Council in 1986. Books and periodicals were transferred to the BGC Library, artifacts to the BGC Museum.

    Accession: 82-60, 84-158, 86-9, 86-28, 90-71, 90-94, 90-109, 90-115, 91-66, 93-105

  • January 7, 1983
  • Robert Shuster
  • Janyce Nasgowitz
  • Andrene Peterson

  • May 8, 1991, revised
  • Paul Ericksen Lisa Ferguson

  • December 29, 1992
  • Mimi L. Wohlschlegel

  • September 25, 1997
  • Robert Shuster

    Accession: 85-26, 85-152, 87-116, 01-29, 01-33
  • February 17, 2004
  • Robert Shuster
  • Jeff Aernie
  • Creator

    Title
    Collection 215 Records of Overseas Missionary Fellowship
    Description rules
    Describing Archives: A Content Standard
    Language of description
    Undetermined
    Script of description
    Code for undetermined script
    Language of description note
    English

    Repository Details

    Part of the Evangelism & Missions Archives Repository

    Contact:
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    630-752-5910