Holmes, John Henry

Reference code(s): GB 0102 CWM/LMS Papua New Guinea Personal Boxes 3-7
Held at: School of Oriental and African Studies Library
Domain: archival
Title: Holmes, John Henry
Date(s) of contents: 1893-1933
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent and medium: 4.5 boxes


Name of creator(s): Holmes | John Henry | 1866-1934 | missionary

Administrative/Biographical history: Born at Harbertonford, Devon, England, 1866; studied at Western College; appointed London Missionary Society (LMS) missionary to the Fly River District, Papua, ordained in Plymouth, and travelled to Papua, 1893; visited the Fly River and Western Stations and returned to Thursday Island; at Port Moresby for a time; appointed to the Elema district and settled at Jokea, 1894; visited the mission stations in the (Torres) Straits and Fly River and returned to Jokea, 1895; to benefit his health, went with the mission ship the SS John Williams IV on its round of visits to the South Sea stations, 1896; returned to Papua and moved to Orokolo, 1897; visited England and married Alice Middleton (d 1941) in Plymouth, 1901; returned with his wife to Papua, 1902; volunteered to move to the Purari Delta, 1904; visited Australia to superintend the construction of a launch, the Purari, 1905; settled at Urika, 1906; visited Australia for health reasons, 1911; went to Sydney for his wife's health, 1917; the couple returned to England, 1919; retired from active service, 1920; an authority on the Elema cultures; died in Streatham, London, 1934. Publications: By Canoe to Cannibal Land (1923); In Primitive New Guinea (1924); Way back in Papua (1926).

Custodial history: The papers were deposited with the London Missionary Society and form part of the special series of personal papers of individual LMS missionaries and officers.

Immediate source of acquisition: Deposited on permanent loan with the records of the London Missionary Society by the Congregational Council for World Mission (later Council for World Mission) in 1973.


Scope and content/abstract: Papers, 1893-1933, of John Henry Holmes, comprising diaries, 1893-1900, 1906-1907, 1915, including observations on his activities and on life in Papua and notes on subjects including anthropology; correspondence with Alfred Cort Haddon, 1904-1906, 1922, comprising letters received and copy letters sent and chiefly concerning Holmes' study of Elema totemism; typescript articles on Papuan beliefs, including the totemism of the Elema tribes, 1914 and undated; printed comparative tables of languages spoken in different parts of Papua, 1915; photographs showing examples of the technology of the Orokaiva tribes of northern Papua; sketch maps of Papua; manuscript notes on anthropology, 1913; typescript children's stories about missionary work and life in Papua, set in the Moru and Urika districts, 1933 and undated.

System of arrangement:


Language: English

Conditions governing access: Unrestricted.

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

Finding aids: Unpublished handlist to file level.


Related material: The School of Oriental and African Studies holds the records of the London Missionary Society (Ref: CWM/LMS), including letters from individual missionaries, among them Holmes (Ref: CWM/LMS Papua New Guinea Incoming Correspondence); his candidate's papers (Ref: CWM/LMS Candidates' Papers Box 7 No 48); a letter of Holmes to A W Whitley, 1905 (Ref: CWM/LMS Papua New Guinea Miscellaneous Box 1/2); letters from Holmes to J J K Hutchin, 1895-1905 (Ref: CWM/LMS Papua New Guinea Personal Box 1/9); reports by Holmes from Papua, 1895-1917 (Ref: CWM/LMS Papua New Guinea Reports Boxes 1-3 passim); photographs of Holmes and his wife (Ref: CWM/LMS General Portraits Box 2); photographs of Holmes in Papua (Ref: CWM/LMS Papua New Guinea Photographs Boxes 2, 11) and photographs of Papua given by Holmes to A W Whitley in 1937 (Ref: CWM/LMS Papua New Guinea Photographs Box 10). SOAS also holds an obituary of Holmes, 1934 (Ref: CBMS/H/PB28/93/74).

Copies: Published on microfiche by IDC Publishers.


Archivist's note: Compiled by Rachel Kemsley as part of the RSLP AIM25 project. Sources: LMS Register of Missionaries, ed James Sibree; British Library OPAC.

Date(s) of descriptions: Mar 2002

Ancient religions
Austronesian and Oceanic languages
Cultural anthropology
Ethnic groups
Evangelistic missionaries
Evangelistic missionary work
Literary forms and genres
Missionary work
National cultures
Oceanic cultures
Ordained missionaries
Papuan languages
Primitive religions
Protestant nonconformists
Protestant nonconformity
Religious activities
Religious groups
Religious institutions
Religious movements
Social scientists
Traditional technology
Travel abroad
Visual materials

Personal names
Haddon | Alfred Cort | 1855-1940 | anthropologist
Holmes | John Henry | 1866-1934 | missionary

Corporate names
Missionary Society x LMS | London Missionary Society x London Missionary Society

Asia and the Pacific
Papua New Guinea