Sandilands, Alexander and Doris

Reference code(s): GB 0102 MS 380813
Held at: School of Oriental and African Studies Library
Domain: archival
Title: Sandilands, Alexander and Doris
Date(s) of contents: 1927-1940
Level of description: Fonds
Extent and medium: 2 boxes


Name of creator(s):

Administrative/Biographical history: Alexander Sandilands MBE (1896-1979) was ordained as a Congregational minister in Christ Church Congregational Church, Friern Barnet in 1926. He was appointed as a London Missionary Society (LMS) missionary to the Bechuanaland Protectorate [Botswana], and sailed there with his wife Doris Sandilands (1902-1990) in September 1926. He was subsequently stationed at the LMS mission stations at Maun in Ngamiland, Bechuanaland in 1926-1931 and 1932-1939; at Serowe, Bechuanaland in 1931-1932; and at Tiger Kloof, South Africa in 1939-1940. In 1941-1946 he served as chaplain to the African Auxiliary Pioneer Corps in the Middle East. He was granted leave of absence for literature preparation in England in 1946-1948, and on his return to Africa was instrumental in establishing the Bible School at Kanye, Bechuanaland, to provide theological education for local church leaders.

In 1956 he was asked by the LMS to begin a revised translation of the Bible into Tswana to commemorate the centenary of Robert Moffat's translation. A revised translation of St Mark's Gospel into Tswana by LMS missionaries led by Alexander Sandilands was published in 1957. Among his other published works during his service with the LMS were A hundred and twenty Negro spirituals selected chiefly with a view to their being used by Africans in Africa (1951); Introduction to Tswana (1953); and a translation of John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress into Tswana (1954). Alexander Sandilands retired from the LMS in 1961 and moved with his wife to Canada, where he subsequently became a minister in the United Church of Canada. He was awarded the Royal African Society medal in 1963.

Custodial history:

Immediate source of acquisition: Donated by Mr Ian Sandilands in 2004


Scope and content/abstract: Papers of Alexander and Doris Sandilands relating to the earlier years (1927-1940) of Alexander Sandilands' missionary service in Bechuanaland [Botswana] and South Africa, including correspondence, diaries and photographs. The correspondence primarily consists of personal letters from Alexander Sandilands to his mother, Annie Jane Sandilands, in Scotland, at roughly fortnightly intervals, with occasional letters to other relatives (most notably to Doris Sandilands after her return to Britain in 1937 with the Sandilands' children). The letters, diaries and photographs describe the Sandilands' initial journey to their mission station at Maun, subsequent trips to locations such as Livingstone, Bulawayo and Johannesburg, and the daily work of the missions at Maun, Serowe and Tiger Kloof.

System of arrangement: *


Language: English

Conditions governing access: Unrestricted

Conditions governing reproduction: No publication without written permission. Apply to SOAS Archives in first instance.

Finding aids: Catalogued on SOAS Archives automated system.


Related material: Papers relating to Alexander Sandilands are held in the archive of the London Missionary Society (now the Council for World Mission) at SOAS Library.


Archivist's note: Description originally complied by Peter Garrod, SOAS Archives.

Date(s) of descriptions: March 2005

Missionary work

Personal names
Sandilands | Alexander | 1896-1979 | Missionary
Sandilands | Doris | 1902-1990 | Missionary wife

Corporate names
London Missionary Society

South Africa