St Colm's College Archive

Reference code(s): GB N/A St Colm's Collection
Held at: St Colm's International House (archives now held at the National Library of Scotland)
Domain: archival
Title: St Colm's College Archive
Date(s) of contents: 1839-present
Level of description: Fonds
Extent and medium: c. 120 volumes of archival material; c.10 volumes of photographs; c.8 metres of printed material; numerous artefacts.


Name of creator(s):
Church of Scotland
Deaconess House and Missionary Training Institute
Free Church of Scotland
Scottish Ladies' Association for the Advancement of Female Education in India
St Colm’s College
St Colm’s International House
United Free Church of Scotland
Women’s Association for Foreign Mission
Women’s Missionary College, St Colm’s
Women’s Missionary Training Institute

Administrative/Biographical history:
In October 1894, at 31 George Square, Edinburgh, the Women's Missionary Training Institute of the Free Church of Scotland (FCS) opened to its first three women students. The Institute had been founded in recognition by the Women's Foreign Mission Committee of the FCS of the need for a formal period of training prior to overseas assignments. The first Superintendent of the Institute was Annie Hunter Small (1857-1945), a Scot from a missionary family who had herself worked as a missionary in India. The Institute's roll soon increased to the extent that in 1897 larger premises were taken at 16 Atholl Crescent, Edinburgh. The training that students received during this early period emphasised worship, study, practical service and communal life, with particular emphasis on educational theory.
During the next ten years, student numbers continued to grow, including women from throughout Europe, and candidates from every British missionary society. This expansion meant that it was necessary to commission a larger purpose-built institution at 23 Inverleith Terrace, Edinburgh. The project was supported by the United Free Church of Scotland (UFC: which had been formed in 1901 by the merger of the Free Church of Scotland and the United Presbyterian Church) but funded by private subscription; it was renamed the Women's Missionary College, its foundation stone being laid in 1908. Two years later the new College hosted some delegates from the Edinburgh World Missionary Conference, and in 1913 it became part of the International Intercession Union of Women's Missionary Colleges. This was also the year in which Training of Church Sisters commenced. A 1914 survey indicated that former students of the College were to be found employed both in home missions, for example in the Scottish Highlands and amongst Jewish communities, and in United Free Church overseas mission fields such as India, China and Africa. Teaching itself emphasised the integration between the theoretical and the practical, as evidenced by the College's in-house kindergarten (which was also seen as a useful adjunct to zenana work). By 1920, training was being given for foreign and home mission, Sunday school and club work.
In the meantime, the Church of Scotland had since 1887 been training women missionaries, at its Deaconess House and Missionary Training Institute in George Square, Edinburgh. Thus, following the union of the UFC with the Church of Scotland in 1929, a similar rapprochement took place between their respective Edinburgh women's missionary training establishments. An overall body was established, known as the Church of Scotland Women's Missionary College; the two constituent establishments were renamed, the Women's Missionary College becoming known as St Colm's, and the Deaconess House and Missionary Training Institute becoming known as St Ninian's. The scheme for unification was initially approved as a five-year trial, with residency and training centred at St Colm's.
The commencement of World War Two, although resulting in a decrease in student numbers for the College, also brought an increasing awareness for staff and students of international relations, which was carried forth into its postwar curricula. Further expansion of its role included the introduction of men's training in 1951, and during the 1960s, an increase in joint courses run with other academic institutions, for example, the Muir Institute of Islamic Studies. 1960 saw a new constitution approved by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the College's official name now becoming St Colm's College, Church of Scotland.
As well as an emphasis on practical training and service, the College also maintained its theological teachings, with strong ecumenical links being forged with, for example, the Student Christian Movement. Educational exchange visits were from the start an important part of the curriculum, both within the UK and abroad. Ex-students of the college have engaged in a broad range of missionary activities, including educational, medical and industrial work, work with women, in both urban and rural areas. Locations of overseas work have been similarly wide-ranging, including Africa (particularly in the south, for example in Malawi (including Blantyre) and South Africa (including Lovedale), and the west, for example in Ghana and Nigeria), Asia (especially in India), the Middle East, the Americas (including South America and the Caribbean), Oceania and Europe (for example, in Budapest).
Since 1998, the College has become known as St Colm's International House, housing the Scottish Churches World Exchange programme of international volunteer work and providing accommodation to students from the developing world. More recently, the College has played host to capacity building and leadership training courses run by World Exchange.
See also: Annie Hunter Small and others, Memories of fifty years: 1894-1944 (Edinburgh: Church of Scotland Women's Missionary College, 1944). Jean Fraser, 'St Colm's College: historical notes 1887-1962', (1962, unpublished paper available from St Colm's International House). Marjorie Stewart, Training in mission: St. Colm's College, Church of Scotland (Edinburgh: St. Andrew Press, 1972). Isabel Lusk, '"A thoroughly furnished woman": Annie Small and the training of women missionaries', (unpublished conference paper delivered on 22 May 1994 at the Annie Small Centre, 20 Inverleith Terrace, Edinburgh; available from St Colm's International House).

Custodial history:
St Colm’s International House and all contents stipulated in the inventory, including the majority of the archive, are the property of the Church of Scotland. Archival items relating to the work of Scottish Churches World Exchange are the property of that organisation. A small number of items are the personal property of Rev. R. S. Anderson, current Director of St Colm’s International House.

Immediate source of acquisition: Majority of the material is in the custody of St Colm’s International House, under the ownership of the Church of Scotland, as described above. Donations are also made by former staff and students.


Scope and content/abstract:
The collection includes:
4 volumes of the Original College Archive: printed material and photographs
7 volumes of the Effie Gray papers: printed papers, photographs, sound recordings, film reels and some artefacts
23 volumes of the House Journal of the Women’s Missionary College, 1898 – 1964
25 volumes of minutes of the House Guild of the Women’s Missionary Institute, 1898 – 1993
8 volumes of minutes of the ‘Panchayat’ (St Colm’s College Students’ Union), 1929 – 1966
1 volume of minutes of the Women’s Missionary Students’ Union, 1911-16
4 volumes of miscellaneous minute books
5 volumes of House Guild Letter books, 1907 – 1969
20 volumes of printed minutes and annual reports (1839-1858) of the Scottish Ladies' Association for the Advancement of Female Education in India
4 volumes of annual reports (1897-1915) for the Women’s Association for Foreign Mission and the United Free Church of Scotland’s Women’s Foreign Mission
9 volumes of visitors’ books and room notebooks
2 volumes of printed lectures, 1982 – 1991
6 volumes of photographs depicting life at St Colm’s College, portraits of students and staff, 1894 – 2002 [largely annotated]
1 volume of photographs of missionary and indigenous life in the New Hebrides by Dr William Gunn, c.1911
c. 5 miscellaneous photograph albums, largely without annotation
c.10 miscellaneous oversize photographs, some mounted, mainly depicting former College Principals
5 brass photographic plates depicting delegates from 1910 World Missionary Conference
1 box of miscellaneous college badges
c.7 metres of miscellaneous books: largely theological and biographical
1 large framed cartoon by William Hole for College Chapel window
1 large hand designed flip chart: celebrating history of the College

System of arrangement:
The Original College Archive and the Effie Gray Papers are arranged by subject and then chronologically.
House journals, all minute books and reports are arranged chronologically.
Books are arranged alphabetically in each location.
Photographs are arranged chronologically.


Language: Mostly English, with a small number of works in the vernaculars of Africa, Asia, Oceania, Europe and South America.

Conditions governing access:
Visitors are very welcome. Access can be arranged through the archivist at St Colm’s International House, who can be contacted at A desk and computer are provided.

Conditions governing reproduction: Permission to be sought in writing from the archivist at St Colm’s International House.

Finding aids: A detailed catalogue is available from the archivist at St Colm’s International House.


Related material:
The National Library of Scotland, Manuscripts Division holds some records of the Women’s Missionary College: letter books of the secretary and other officials, 1910-16 (MSS 8006-7), household account book, 1894-1908 (MSS 8008), and papers relating to Dr Olive Wyon (1881-1966), Principal of St Colm’s (Acc 5261 and 5468, predominantly theological rather than missiological).


Archivist's note:
Updated by Fiona Anderson, archivist for the St Colm’s College Archive, on behalf of Scottish Churches World Exchange and St Colm’s International House. Originally compiled by Caroline Brick on behalf of the Mundus Project, using information provided by Rev. R. S. Anderson, Director of St Colm’s International House and Scottish Churches World Exchange, and Mrs Isabel M. Lusk and with reference to: Jean Fraser, ‘St Colm’s College: historical notes 1887 – 1962 (1962, unpublished paper available from St Colm’s College Archive); Marjorie Stewart, Training in Mission: St Colm’s College, Church of Scotland (Edinburgh: St Andrew Press, 1972).

Date(s) of descriptions: July 2002, revised December 2002 and July 2008

Adult education institutions
Cultural interaction
Devotional texts
Educational missionaries
Educational missionary work
Home mission administration
Industrial missionary work
Liturgical texts
Medical missionaries
Medical missionary work
Mission administration
Mission policy
Mission support organisations
Missionary medical training
Missionary training
Missionary training institutions
Missionary work
Reference materials
Religious activities
Religious groups
Religious organisations
Religious practice
Religious studies
Religious texts
Rural missionary work
Training centres
Urban missionary work
Vernacular languages
Visual materials
Vocational education
Women’s missionary work
Zenana missionary work

Personal names
Annie Small
Bishop V. S. Azariah
Effie Gray
J. H. Holdham
Jane Haining
Jean Fraser
John R. Mott
Mary Levison
Olive Wyon

Corporate names
Church of Scotland
Deaconess Association House and Missionary Training Institute
Free Church of Scotland
Scottish Ladies' Association for the Advancement of Female Education in India
St Colm’s College
St Colm’s International House
United Free Church of Scotland
Women’s Association for Foreign Mission
Women’s Missionary College: St Colm’s
Women’s Missionary Training Institute
World Missionary Conference: 1910, Edinburgh

Middle East
South Africa
South America
South Asia
Southern Africa
United Kingdom
West Africa