Balmer, William Turnbull

Reference code(s): GB 0102 WMMS/MMS Biographical Series, Box 598
Held at: School of Oriental and African Studies Library
Domain: archival
Title: Balmer, William Turnbull
Date(s) of contents: ca. 1923-1951
Level of description: Fonds
Extent and medium: 1 folder


Name of creator(s):

Administrative/Biographical history: William Turnbull Balmer was born at Philadelphia, a mining village near Durham in 1866. He was educated locally, was trained as a teacher at Westminster College, Oxford and became Headmaster of the Wesleyan School at Tenby in South Wales. In 1899 he became an ordained minister of the Wesleyan Church and in 1901 went out to West Africa as an educational missionary. He taught at Richmond College in Freetown, at the Mfantsipim High School, Cape Coast, Ghana and at Fourah Bay College, Sierra Leone. He also carried out evangelical work. In 1921 he was forced to resign from overseas service due to ill-health but, on his return to Britain, was appointed to the post of Editor and Secretary of The Atlantis Press, which sought to provide Christian works in a number of West Africa languages. He also made valuable contributions to the study of less well-known West African languages. This work he continued right up to his death in 1928.

Custodial history:

Immediate source of acquisition: Deposited on permanent loan with the records of the Methodist Missionary Society in 1978.


Scope and content/abstract: Letters and papers, dated ca. 1923-1951, of, to and about WT Balmer put together for a proposed biography.

System of arrangement: Arranged as described in Scope and Content.


Language: English

Conditions governing access: Unrestricted, but only to be viewed on microfiche.

Conditions governing reproduction: No publication without prior permission in writing. Apply to SOAS Archives in first instance.

Finding aids: A typescript list of the Biographical Series is available for consultation in the Special Collections Reading Room, SOAS Library.


Related material: The School of Oriental and African Studies holds the records of the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society (Ref: WMMS/MMS), including letters from individual missionaries. Photographs taken by WT Balmer in West Africa are kept in the Archives's photographic section. (Ref WMMS/MMS West Africa Photographs)

Copies: The MMS archive to 1945 is available on microfiche from IDC.


Archivist's note: This description compiled by Rosemary Seton, Archivist, SOAS with reference to The Minutes of Conference of the Wesleyan Methodist Church for 1928.

Date(s) of descriptions: August 2005

African literature
Educational missionaries

Personal names
Balmer | William Turnbull | 1866-1928 | educational missionary and lexicographer

Corporate names
Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society

Sierra Leone
West Africa