Quaker Peace and Social Witness

Reference code(s): GB 0111 Quaker Peace and Social Witness
Held at: Library of the Religious Society of Friends
Domain: archival
Title: Quaker Peace and Social Witness
Date(s) of contents: 1865 -
Level of description: Fonds
Extent and medium: c 700 volumes; c 2,000 boxed files; c 4,000 photographs.


Name of creator(s):
Friends Foreign Mission Association (1868-1927)
Council for International Service (1919-1927)
Friends Service Council (1927-1978)
Quaker Peace and Service (1979-2000)
Quaker Peace and Social Witness (2001- )

Administrative/Biographical history: It was not until 1868 that the Friends Foreign Mission Association of the Religious Society of Friends in Great Britain was formed. Traditional Quaker opposition to a paid ministry was one factor in the reluctance to send full-time missionaries overseas while reliance on the immediate guidance of the Holy Spirit, rather than on human planning, was another. Following the Religious Revival of 1859 concern grew amongst leading Quakers that the Society had been deficient in following the biblical injunction to take the Gospel message to the heathen. An appeal to support mission work was circulated by the central governing body in 1861, a Provisional Committee set up in 1865 and the first missionaries sent in the following year. In 1868 a permanent organisation, the Friends Foreign Mission Association was established as an independent organisation within the Quaker movement.

The first English Quaker missionary was Rachel Metcalf who went out to work at an industrial school in Benares in 1866. Mission work subsequently moved to Central India, in what is now Madhya Pradesh, important centres being Hoshangabad, Sohagpur and Bhopal. Various strands of mission work were established including the opening of schools and orphanages, as well as medical work and evangelism. By 1903 there were 34 missionaries, 42 native workers and 6 churches. A mission to Madagascar was established in 1867 by American and British missionaries who, at first, worked alongside missionaries of the London Missionary Society. Subsequently, Friends' missionaries carried out pastoral work in the province of Imerina, established schools in the capital Antananarivo and began a joint medical mission with the LMS at Analekely. By 1903 there were 23 missionaries, 830 native workers and 185 churches.

The Friends Syrian Mission, set up in 1874, was, at first, a separate organisation that became a part of the FFMA in 1898. Schools, a hospital and a dispensary were set up in Ramallah though this work was transferred to the New England Quakers in 1898. Another centre was Brummana in the Lebanon, founded by the Swiss Quaker, Theophilus Waldmeier (1832-1915), that contained an industrial school, schools for boys and girls and a hospital. By 1903 there were 13 missionaries, 47 native workers and one church. From 1886 the Friends also established missions in China, especially at Chungking in Szechwan Province, where they helped to establish the West China Union University in 1910; in Ceylon (1896) and in Pemba, 1897. Work in Pemba arose out of Quaker involvement in the anti-slavery movement, an industrial mission being set up to provide employment for freed slaves.

Falling revenues brought about a reduction in the FFMA's work in the 1920s with a number of missions being merged with others or becoming independent. In 1927 The FFMS merged with the Friends Council for International Service, founded in 1919 to form the Friends Service Council. In addition to overseas missionary work the Council was also concerned with the promotion of international peace and with relief work in Europe, South Africa, the Middle East, India, China and many other parts of the world. The organisation is now known as Quaker Peace and Social Witness.

Major Publications include:
Annual Reports, 1921-1951.
Friends Foreign Mission Association Annual Report, 1868-1926.
Missionary Helpers Union Annual Report, 1883-1911.
Our Missions, 1894-1917.
Workers at Home and Abroad vols 9-17, 1913-1921 (continued as the Wayfarer). The Friendly Way; Quarterly Newsletter about the Thought and Activities of Quakers and their Friends in Southern Asia, 1948-present. (I>Quaker World Service: Quarterly Bulletin of the Friends Service Council, 1927-1952(incomplete). Reports of the Friends Foreign Mission Association, 1868-1926.

For further reading see:
Henry T. Hodgkin, Friends beyond Seas (London: Headley Bros. Publishers, 1916).
The past is prologue: 100 years of Quaker overseas work, 1868-1968 (London: Friends' Service Council,1968).
John Omerod Greenwood, Quaker encounters 3 vols (York: William Sessions, 1977-78).

Custodial history: The Library of the Library of the Religious Society of Friends Friends has had continuous custody of most materials.

Immediate source of acquisition: Official records of the Religious Society of Friends.


Scope and content/abstract: The collection comprises minutes, financial records and general correspondence relating to the mission's home office from the late 19th and early 20th centuries; minutes, reports, correspondence and papers on overseas committees including Ceylon, China, Europe,India, Pakistan, Madagascar, Pemba Island, South Africa, and Syria; records of mission subgroups the Missionary Helpers Union and the Young Friends International Service Committee; picture collection containing photographs of most of the above mission fields.

System of arrangement: The collection is arranged as follows: Home (Main series), subdivided into the minutes of various committees, financial ledgers and accounts, and general correspondence; Overseas (Main series), subdivided geographically and containing minutes, reports, correspondence and papers on overseas committees (Ceylon; China; Europe (subdivided alphabetically by country, and excluding Russia and Poland (grouped separately); India (including some material on Ceylon and Pakistan); Jamaica; Madagascar; Pemba Island; Russia and Poland; South Africa; Syria); records of Sub Groups (Missionary Helpers Union, Young Friends International Service); picture collections.


Language: Mainly English with some Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Malagasy, Sinhalese.

Conditions governing access:

50 year closure rule. Open to members of the Religious Society of Friends and to bona fide researchers who are asked to provide advance introductions or letters of recommendation on arrival.

Material may be witheld without notice for reasons of conservation.

Conditions governing reproduction: Applications for publication or quotation upon written application to the Librarian.

Finding aids: *


Related material: Lebanon Hospital for Mental and Nervous Diseases held in the Library, School of Oriental and African Studies
Some Missionary Helpers Union records are to be found among local Quaker records.


Note: The Administrative/biographical history was compiled using:
Henry T. Hodgkin, Friends beyond Seas (London: Headley Bros. Publishers, 1916).
Henry Otis Dwight, H. Allen Tupper, Edwin Munsell Bliss, The encyclopedia of missions (New York and London: Funk & Wagnall Company, 1904).

Date(s) of descriptions: 19th February 2002

Educational missionary work
Industrial missionary work
Mission schools
Missionary work
Religious activities
Visual materials

Personal names
Metcalf | Rachel
Waldmeier | Theophilus | 1832-1915 | Swiss missionary

Corporate names
Council for International Service Friends Service Council x Quaker Peace and Social Witness
Friends Foreign Mission Association x Quaker Peace and Social Witness
Quaker Peace and Service x Quaker Peace and Social Witness
Quaker Peace and Social Witness

East Africa
East Asia
Madhya Pradesh
Middle East
Pemba Island
South Asia
Syrian AR
Tanzania UR