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CHURCH MISSIONARY SOCIETY ARCHIVE
Section II: Missions to Women

Part 4: The Indian Female Evangelist and successors, 1881-1956 (covering The Indian Female Evangelist, 1881-1893, The Zenana: or, Woman’s Work in India, 1893-1935, The Zenana; Women’s Work in India and Pakistan, 1936-1956) from Interserve, London

"These CMS Archives provide a rich repository of source materials on South Asian history & culture. Missionaries & their Indian subordinates were active among most classes in the population, especially the lites and lower castes and classes. They therefore provide evidence and comment on a wide range of issues, including matters outside the purview and experience of Government officers and either overlooked or ignored in official correspondence. Not the least of these are questions relating to the Hindu/Christian encounter, the phenomenon and nature of religious conversion movements, aspects of famine, pestilence and disease, developments in health care and medicine, women’s issues - the rise of the women’s missionary movement from Britain, European knowledge and representation of India, and the role of missionaries in the construction of ‘Hinduism’ ."
Dr Geoffrey Oddie
Honory Research Associate, Department of History, University of Sydney

The Indian Female Evangelist was a quarterly periodical published by the Indian Female Normal School and Instruction Society, founded in 1852. In 1880 the Society divided into two parts: one half became the Zenana, Medical and Bible Mission which was interdenominational and the other half became the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society which was Anglican.

The Zenana, Medical and Bible Mission later became the Bible Medical Missionary Fellowship, finally becoming Interserve in 1985. The Church of England Zenana Missionary Society Archive was amalgamated with CMS in 1957.

The issues of The Indian Female Evangelist in Part 4 complement the material in Section II Part 3 which contained the issues of The Indian Female Evangelist for 1872-1880 which are part of the CMS Archive.

Part 4 contains issues for 1881-1956. The Indian Female Evangelist for January 1881-October 1893 was published by the Zenana, Medical and Bible Mission. In November 1893 the periodical changed its name to The Zenana: or, Woman’s Work in India and from September 1936 it changed its name to The Zenana: Women’s Work in India and Pakistan.

The Zenana, Medical and Bible Mission had mission stations in India at Ahmedabad, Ahmednagar, Benares, Bombay, Gorakhpur, Jafna, Lahore, Lucknow, Peshawar and Poona and worked with women in the Zenanas, schools and hospitals.

The periodical has a wealth of material on all manner of subjects concerned with women’s work in the missions and at home. There are accounts of the missionary work in the Zenanas, schools and hospitals, descriptions of the local scenery, customs and culture, articles on the work carried on in Britain, poetry, prayers and a special section for children. A sample of the contents for the issue of January 1881 will give an idea of the variety of material to be found: A visit to an Indian Queen by Miss Trott; A Word to the Girls’ School Union; Baptism of Converts; CMS School at Benares; Female Education In India; Hindu Widows; Indian Marriages; List of Meetings; Medical Missions to the Women of India; Notes of My Tour by Mrs Gilmore; Our Mission Letters; Home Chapter; Pages for the Young; Re-Marriage of a Bhatia Widow; Rural Missions; Work among Parsis of Poona.

The Indian Female Evangelist and its successors is an invaluable resource for all those interested in researching Indian history and missionary women’s work in India during the years 1881-1956.

This section provides excellent source material on a wide range of issues, not least Women's Studies and Gender Studies.

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