Records of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society

Reference code(s): GB 0150 CEZ
Held at: Birmingham - University of, Information Services, Special Collections Department
Domain: archival
Title: Records of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society
Date(s) of contents: 1872-1968
Level of description: Fonds
Extent and medium: 247 volumes, 105 files, 39 docs, 27 photographs, 11 collecting boxes and a wooden plaque


Name of creator(s):

Administrative/Biographical history: The Church of England Zenana Missionary Society was founded in 1880 when it separated from the interdenominational Indian Female Normal School Society (founded 1852). Its main aim was to evangelise the women of India by means of normal schools [teacher training colleges], zenana visiting, medical missions, Hindu and Muslim female schools and the employment of Bible women. The Society was to work in close co-operation with the Church Missionary Society. In 1957 it amalgamated with CMS. A board of trustees continued to administer the transfer of property and trust funds until 1968.
The overseas work of the society started in India but spread to China in 1884, Japan in 1886 and Ceylon in 1889. Work in China ended in 1950 when the missionaries had to leave, but from 1952 they worked amongst the Chinese in Malaya. Work in Japan had to be given up in 1892 and it was handed over to CMS. When the Female Education Society (founded 1843) closed down in 1900, CEZMS took over their work in Singapore, though the Singapore School sub-committee (secretary 1904-1912 Lady Gage Brown, 1913 Miss E. Gage Brown) was not fully integrated until 1913.
CEZMS missionaries began teaching in zenanas and day-schools. The chief stations were Trivandrum, Palamcotta (Sarah Tucker College), Masulipatam and Madras in South India, Meerut (handed over to CMS 1893), Jabalpur, Calcutta (Normal School) and Amritsar (Alexandra School) in North India.
Medical work was of great importance. The Society had taken over the work at Amritsar (St. Catherines' hospital) and other hospitals and dispensaries were established in Bhagalpur, Srinagar, Peshawar (Connaught hospital), Batala, Narowal and Tarn Taran. Work was also done by village missions, a central village from which evangelists visited dozens of villages grouped around the centre. The chief places for these in the 1880s were Jandiala, Ajnala, Narowal, Tarn Taran and Nadiya. Industrial work was begun in 1883, with a class at Amritsar. The Indian Widows' Union was set up in England in 1889. English widows raised financial support for Indian widows' industries. It was active from 1889 to 1946/7 and its reports are entered in the Annual Reports [G/E L 1/1]. There was also work amongst the deaf and dumb in India (at Palamcotta from 1900, Mylapore from 1914) and amongst the blind in China at Kucheng, and Nantai, Foochow.
Source: Rosemary A. Keen, Catalogue of the papers of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society, 1987

Custodial history: The archives of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society passed into the custody of the Church Missionary Society on the amalgamation of the two societies.

Immediate source of acquisition: These records were subsequently deposited by the Church Mission Society in 1987


Scope and content/abstract: Records of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society, 1880-1968, comprising minutes of the General Committee, 1880-1968, Executive Committee, 1898-1957, Candidates Committee, 1882-1957, Finance Committee, 1881-1957, Home Organisation Committee, 1896-1957 and other Committees and Sub-Committees; rolls and registers of missionaries, 1880-1957; correspondence and administrative papers of the Society's Secretaries; financial records; legal records; publications including annual reports, periodicals and newsletters, printed leaflets and booklets reports of missions, and books written by missionaries; photographs of officers and missionaries. The collection also includes copies of some issues of 'The Indian Female Evangelist', published by the Indian Female Normal School and Instruction Society, 1872-1880

System of arrangement: The archives have been listed in four sections or sub-fonds, corresponding to the departments of the four Secretaries in charge in 1952 when the Society gave up its separate office and moved its headquarters and Home to Cromwell House. These comprised the Clerical Secretary's Department [CEZ/G]; the Foreign and Candidates Secretary's Department [CEZ/C]; the Financial Secretary's Department [CEZ/F]; and the Home Organisations Secretary's Department [CEZ/H]. At that time the Publication Committee and House (Home and Depot) Committee were wound up. By 1953 the Foreign and Home Departments were combined under Miss Winifred Chapman.


Language: English

Conditions governing access: Open Access to all registered researchers

Conditions governing reproduction: Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the University Archivist, Special Collections (email: Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Special Collections will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Finding aids: A paper catalogue of the collection to file and item level is available in the Special Collections Department and at the National Register of Archives in London


Related material: Researchers should also refer to the Church Mission Society [CMS] archives as the two Societies worked very closely together, even sharing a Candidates Commitee. For work in the British Isles the periodical 'India's Women' together with the Annual Reports provide a rich and vital source of information.
Records of local associations and auxiliary societies, which were founded to support the work of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society, can be found in the collection of the Unofficial Accessions of the Church Mission Society [CMS/ACC]. These include the following:
CMS/ACC304: Birmingham Diocesan Auxiliary: minutes, 1924-1957;
CMS/ACC309: Southport Association: minutes, 1896-1958;
CMS/ACC342: Manchester Association: financial records, 1948-1961.
Personal papers of some CEZMS missionaries can also be found in the collection of the Unofficial Accessions of the Church Mission Society [CMS/ACC]. These include the following:
CMS/ACC204: Photograph album of Miss M. E. Kirby, CEZMS missionary in China, 1898-1906
CMS/ACC256: Photograph albums of unidentified CEZMS missionaries, c 1900;
CMS/ACC292: Letters and photographs of Miss Emilie Stroelin, CEZMS missionary in Meerut (Mirat), India, 1881-1904;
CMS/ACC341: Papers of Miss Kathleen Sophia Loader (1875-1945), CEZMS missionary, Fukien, China 1901-1945


Date(s) of descriptions: Created 05/14/2002, modified 05/15/2002


Personal names

Corporate names
Church of England Zenana Missionary Society; 1880-1968

South Asia