Medical Services Ministries

Reference code(s): GB 0102 MSM
Held at: School of Oriental and African Studies Library
Domain: archival
Title: Medical Services Ministries
Date(s) of contents: Created 1903-1995
Level of description:
Extent and medium: 16 boxes, 8 volumes


Name of creator(s): Missionary School of Medicine
Medical Services Ministries

Administrative/Biographical history: In 1903 the Educational Committee of the British Homeopathic Association in conjunction with the London Homeopathic Hospital formed a Missionary Sub-committee to promote a course of instruction for non-medical missionaries. This committee included both Dr. George Burford and Dr. Edwin A. Neatby, who was to become the first Honorary Secretary and later Dean of the Missionary School of Medicine.

The idea from the outset was that the School's courses would be flexible, in order to cater for the varying needs and experience of the students, some of whom were on home leave from the field, and others who had yet to receive a posting overseas. It was emphatically not designed to train doctors and nurses, but to provide a background of medical knowledge to missionaries who might be working considerable distances from professional medical care. Although students came from a wide variety of missionary societies, there was some opposition at first from religious organisations who felt that homeopathy was not compatible with Christian beliefs.

The first course began on 11 January 1904, with 24 students taking part in the first session. A format soon evolved whereby the course covered three terms and featured lectures and instruction on practical medicine; surgery; diseases of the eye, ear, nose, and throat; children's diseases; diseases of the skin; tropical diseases; dentistry; first aid; anatomy and physiology; practical anaesthetics; women's diseases; nursing and midwifery (the latter three courses were provided for women only). Students received additional lectures from doctors at other institutions such as the London School of Tropical Medicine. This course structure proved popular enough to remain unchanged for 75 years.

In 1977 a three month course was introduced but demand for the courses continued to fall during the 1980s, when a large percentage of the students who did attend were from other European countries. In 1992 the organisation changed its name to Medical Services Ministries. There were further experiments with 4-week courses for qualified nurses but in 1996 the MSM decided to leave its premises at 2 Powis Place, its home since the 1920s, and provide a more ad hoc service by tailor-made courses to individual demand.

Custodial history:

Immediate source of acquisition: Donated by the Medical Services Ministries in 1996.


Scope and content/abstract: Records, 1903-1995, of the the Medical Services Ministries, including Executive Committee and Council Minutes (1904-1989), Annual Reports (1906-1995) and other publications. Also registers of students (1903-1995), student records (1947-1995) and examination records (1947-1995), and photographs of staff and students (1913-1990).

System of arrangement: The material has been sorted into the following categories: minute books; student records; student fellowship files; Medical Services Ministries publications; other publications; and photographs. Within each category, material is arranged chronologically.


Language: English

Conditions governing access: There are some restrictions on the use of student records. Readers must sign a declaration form before consultation.

Conditions governing reproduction: No publication without written permission. Apply to archivist in the first instance.

Finding aids: Unpublished handlist.



Date(s) of descriptions: 15 May 2000

Adult students
Ancient religions
Higher science education
Medical education
Medical missionary work
Missionary work
Religious activities
Religious groups
Systems of medicine
Visual materials

Personal names
Burford | George Henry | 1856-1937 | physician
Neatby | Edwin Awdas | 1858-1933 | physician and homeopath

Corporate names
British Homeopathic Association | Educational Committee
London Homeopathic Hospital
Medical Services Ministries
Missionary School of Medicine