World Missionary Conference, Edinburgh, 1910

Reference code(s): GB 0231 MS 3291
Held at: Aberdeen University, Special Libraries and Archives
Domain: archival
Title: World Missionary Conference, Edinburgh, 1910
Date(s) of contents: 1910 -1910
Level of description: Fonds
Extent and medium: 5 volumes (cubic capacity) of archival material.


Name of creator(s): World Missionary Conference, Edinburgh, 1910

Administrative/Biographical history: The World Missionary Conference, held in Edinburgh, 14-23 June 1910, followed earlier international missionary conferences in Liverpool, 1860, London, 1885, and New York, 1900. More representative than its predecessors, it served as an important stimulus to the twentieth century ecumenical movement, for where previous conferences had been non-ecumenical, and largely evangelical, participants at the Edinburgh conference represented missionary societies across most of the Protestant spectrum (Roman Catholic and Orthodox societies were still notably absent). The majority came from Britain and North America, though 40 societies from other European countries and 12 from South Africa and Australasia were also present. The conference met in the United Free Church Assembly Hall (now Church of Scotland) adjacent to New College, with separate meetings for schoolchildren hosted in the Church of Scotland Assembly Hall (latterly, Highland Tolbooth Church), and a short supplementary programme during 20-21 June focused on medical aspects of missionary work. The planning committee, which was predominantly Scottish, engaged eight international commissions to prepare reports on the conference, which were subsequently published in full (see Dictionary of Scottish Church History and Theology, ed. by Nigel M. de S. Cameron (Edinburgh: T and T Clark Ltd., 1993), p 894 for details). The work of the committee and commissions also resulted in the publication of A Statistical Atlas of Christian Missions (Edinburgh: 1910), which contains a detailed directory of missionary societies at this time, and the International Review of Missions, ed. J.H. Oldham, 1- (1912-). The conference, itself, provided stimulus for several co-operative enterprises, not least The International Missionary Council (established 1921), which united the network of national and regional councils that were formed after 1910 (including the Conference of Missionary Societies, established 1911-12), and the Faith and Order Movement, established in Lausanne, 1927.

For more details, and further points of reference see:
World Missionary Conference, Edinburgh 1910, Reports of Commissions (Edinburgh: Oliphant, Anderson & Ferrier, 1910).
Dictionary of Scottish Church History and Theology, ed. by Nigel M. de S. Cameron (Edinburgh: T and T Clark Ltd., 1993), pp 893-894.

Custodial history: The records were acquired by the Centre for the Study of Christianity in the Non-Western World, under the directorship of Professor Andrew Walls, Department of Divinity, University of Aberdeen. They were transferred to Special Libraries and Archives when the Centre moved to Edinburgh c 1987.

Immediate source of acquisition: The records were deposited at Aberdeen University in November 1987, by the Reverend Dr H. R. Sefton, Master of Christ's College, Aberdeen.


Scope and content/abstract: Typescript notes of evidence heard at the World Missionary Conference, Edinburgh, 1910, by Commission IV. This Commission was chaired by David Smith Cairns, (1862-1946), Principal of the United Free Church College, Aberdeen (later, Christ's College), 1923-1935; and its evidence was subsequently published as The Missionary Message in Relation to the Non-Christian Religions (Edinburgh: published for the World Missionary Conference by Oliphant, Anderson & Ferrier, 1910). The notes described here were collated by Cairns, for this purpose. He was assisted in the task by W.P. Paterson.

System of arrangement: None observed.


Language: English.

Conditions governing access: Open, subject to signature accepting conditions of use at reader registration sheet.

Conditions governing reproduction: Subject to the condition of the original, copies may be supplied for private research use only on receipt of a signed undertaking to comply with current copyright legislation.

Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Head of Special Libraries and Archives of Aberdeen University (e-mail: ) and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. Where possible, assistance will be given in identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Physical characteristics: No physical characteristics affecting use of collection.

Finding aids: A very brief collection level description is available on the Aberdeen University Library Catalogue.


Related material: Aberdeen University, Special Libraries and Archives also holds papers of David Smith Cairns (1862-1946), 1883-1946 (GB 0231 MS 3384).

Other papers of David Smith Cairns (1862-1946) and his son the Reverend Professor David Cairns (1904-1992) (Acc 6786, 6787, 6828,6835, 9326) are deposited at the National Library of Scotland.

The Henry Martyn Centre also holds papers relating to the World Missionary Conference, Edinburgh, 1910.

The University of Birmingham, Orchard Learning Resources Centre holds Papers of the Edinburgh Conference Continuation Committee.


Note: Compiled using a collection level description from the Archives Hub.

Date(s) of descriptions: July 2002.

Ancient religions
Communication process
Cultural interaction
Group communication
Mission administration
Mission policy
Missionary societies
Missionary support organizations
Missionary work
Overseas/foreign mission administration
Religious activities
Religious groups
Religious organizations

Personal names
Cairns | David Smith | 1862-1946 | principal of the United Free Church College, Aberdeen

Corporate names
World Missionary Conference | 1910 | Edinburgh

Western Europe