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Section I: East Asia Missions

Part 9: Church of England Zenana Missionary Society, 1880-1957

These papers and the CEZMS periodicals (see Section II) enable scholars to study the role of women, the literature of the empire and the process of cross-cultural assimilation.

The CEZMS was founded in 1880 when it separated from the Indian Female Normal School Society which had been founded in 1852. It worked closely with the CMS until 1957 when they amalgamated.

A Zenana is a harem and the CEZMS specialised in sending missionaries to educate and evangelise the women of such closed communities. Its main aim was to convert 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 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 among the Chinese in Malaya. Work in Japan was given up in 1892 and handed over to CMS. When the Female Education Society closed down in 1900, CEZMS took over their work in Singapore.

There is very strong source material for India, China, Japan, Ceylon, Malaya and Singapore. Many researchers are now turning to look at aspects of "world history" and the material to be found in the CEZMS Archive will open up many new research opportunities.

The main periodical of the CEZMS was India’s Women and China’s Daughters, 1880-1939 which was renamed Looking East at India’s Women and China’s Daughters, 1940-1957. This has been filmed as Section II Part 2 of this microfilm series and it is the main source for research into the early work of the CEZMS.

Also filmed in Section II in Part 3 are the issues of Daybreak 1889, 1893-1894. This magazine of CEZMS was published for the younger readers. Included in the same part are the issues for 1910-1948 of the CEZMS periodical Homes of the East. Interesting articles on and letters from missionaries are included.

The CEZMS archive contains the years 1872-1880 of the periodical The Indian Female Evangelist which was published by the Indian Female Normal School and Instruction Society, in 1880 to become the Zenana, Medical and Bible Mission and later Interserve, The issues for 1872-1880 have been filmed in Section II Part 3. The years 1881-1956 are held at Interserve in London and have been filmed as Part 4 of Section II. The Minutes of the Zenana, Medical and Bible Mission for 1865-1937 and the Annual Reports of the Indian Female Normal School and Instruction Society for 1863-1879 are filmed as Part 5 of Section II.

The complete catalogue to the CEZMS archive can be found in the Web information for Section I Part 4 after the Contents of Reels and it has also been filmed on the first reel of Section I Part 4.

The material to be found in Section I Part 9 completes the coverage of the Register of Foreign Despatches and continues with Annual Reports and Statistical Returns of the Missionaries; correspondence with and about Missions; a Roll of missionaries and Register of new and supported missionaries; information packs on missionaries known as "the blue packets" arranged alphabetically; Committee material; Financial papers and files on CMS property in Ceylon, China, India and at home; the papers relating to headquarters in London and Committee work of the Home Organisation Secretary, the Home Depot Auxiliary, the Girls’ Auxiliary, Anniversary meetings and finishes with miscellaneous material such as photographs of missionaries and staff and local associations’ financial papers.

The Annual Reports of the missionaries contain fascinating descriptions of their experiences. The following extract is taken from the Annual Report for 1949 from Miss Katharine J Cox: "On Nov 19th the Isolation Hospital was finally closed; there had been no cases of cholera for some weeks, no more refugees were arriving, and those who had been here had passed on to other districts. That same evening I received a visit from the Mohd Taheildar, the Christian Magistrate from Sialket and a Hindu Liaison Officer from India to ask for the use of the school as a Refugee Camp for evacuating the remaining Hindus from the District. It was a demand rather than a request, for there was no other building suitable for the purpose, The first lorry load of people arrived that same evening and took possession of the buildings. They remained in occupation until Jan 13th and during those two months about 25,000 people passed through the school and safely on into India. The playground was full of lorries which went out to collect them from the villages and then took them on in convoys over the Border".

Letters also give us an insight into the lives of the missionaries and the things they lived through such as the Quetta Earthquake of May 1935. The following description is taken from a letter by Miss M E Davidson, a schoolteacher, written in Karachi June 10th 1935."We have had a most wonderful escape; the experiences of the past week are like a dream. The earthquake happened like a flash of lightning at 3am on Friday May 31st and lasted only a few seconds. C I D woke up to hear her ceiling cracking and rushed in to lift L Luther out of her bed, she found her too heavy to move so went to the foot of the bed to get her out from there; as she did so, a cupboard and the wall behind it fell on the exact spot where she had been standing…The CEZ Hospital and bungalow are a absolute ruin, the missionaries have lost everything….

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