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Section V: Missions to the Americas

Part 1: West Indies, 1819-1861

The CMS was not heavily involved in missionary activity in the Americas, as other organisations such as The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel were already well established. There were two exceptions.

Firstly, the Mission to the West Indies (covered in Part 1) which tied in closely to the West Africa Mission due to the ethnic origins of many of the inhabitants. A mission was established in Barbados in 1820, Jamaica in 1826, British Guiana in 1827 and Trinidad in 1836. In 1839 the society was forced to withdraw due to financial constraints, although support for Antigua, Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad did not end until the end of 1849. Work in British Guiana continued until 1858.

The material provides coverage for Anguilla 1836, Antigua 1818-1845, Bahamas 1834, Barbados 1820-1856, British Guiana 1825-1856, Dominica 1823, Honduras 1820-1826, Jamaica 1819-1861, Nevis 1820-1827 and 1846, Trinidad 1836-1848 , St Kitts 1821 and St Vincent 1823.

Secondly, missions to North West Canada and British Columbia. Parts 2 and 3 consist of Letter Books, Mission Books and Original Papers to 1930 for North West Canada. Part 4 contains the papers of the British Columbia Mission for 1856-1925. These papers provide scholars with the opportunity for detailed research into the lives and customs of Native Americans and their reactions to the missionaries working among them.

The Papers for Part 1: West Indies Mission, 1819-1861 contain Letter Books for 1820-1861, Mission Books for 1820-1861 and Original Papers for 1819-1858.

The Letter Books, 1820-1861 contain copies of outgoing correspondence, with an index, from the Secretary in London to the missionaries and the mission secretary They cover a wide range of topics: instructions to missionaries on going out to the West Indies; correspondence in 1845 with the Colonial Office re the way of dealing with Africans liberated from the slave vessels; details on missionary salaries; progress reports on the CMS schools; enquiries regarding the education of former slaves.

The Mission Books, 1820-1861 contain copies of the Original Papers sent to the Secretary in London by the mission. The letters and journals from 1820-1849 are copied out in full while a note of receipt is made for the financial papers and printed material. From 1849 the letters only are copied. The Mission Books therefore echo the contents of the Original Papers. They contain an index of names and a few subjects.

The Original Papers comprise mostly of the papers of individual missionaries, catechists and others arranged alphabetically from Rev John Armstrong to Thomas B Youd. The remaining papers consist of: committee papers; correspondence with Bishops; minutes and correspondence of auxiliary CMS societies; reports and papers re schools and education; petitions and appeals; reports of societies and mission stations; financial papers; correspondence and papers re CMS property; government and official papers; newspapers; miscellaneous papers.

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