Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)CMS/ACC
TitleChurch Mission Society Unofficial Papers
ExtentApproximately 26 linear metres
Datec 1290-2017
DescriptionThis collection, formerly held as the Church Missionary Society Unofficial Papers, comprises an extensive compilation of a large number of privately deposited collections relating to the work of the Church Mission Society, mission partners ('missionaries') and their families. These privately deposited collections complement the official archive of the Church Mission Society. They are predominantly dated 1800-1950.

The Unofficial Papers include a large number of collections of papers of CMS missionaries (mission partners) and agents and their families which may contain diaries and journals, letters, photographs, manuscript and typescript writings, research papers, printed and other materials. They also include papers of sympathisers not officially connected with the CMS. Significant collections of this type include:
CMS/ACC18: Papers of Bishop Llewellyn Henry Gwynne (1863-1957, missionary in Sudan) c1880-1957;
CMS/ACC21 and CMS/ACC28: Travel journals and photograph albums of Edith Baring-Gould, (daughter of CMS Secretary, Rev B. Baring-Gould), 1881-1941;
CMS/ACC27: Papers of Rev. William Arthur Crabtree (missionary in Uganda and philologist), 1888-c1935;
CMS/ACC36: Journals and letters of Archibald Downes-Shaw (missionary in Africa), 1882-1889;
CMS/ACC81: Venn MSS comprising diaries, biographies and correspondence of the Venn and associated families including papers of Henry Venn (1796-1873, Secretary of CMS) and John Venn (1759-1813, a founder of the CMS), 1619-c 1955
CMS/ACC82: Papers of Graham Wilmot Brooke (missionary in West Africa), 1883-1892;
CMS/ACC84: Papers of Rev Arthur B. Fisher (missionary in Africa), 1892-1956;
CMS/ACC88: Walker MSS being the papers of the Walker family and particularly of Robert Henry Walker (missionary in Uganda), 1887-1946;
CMS/ACC89: Diaries and papers of Archdeacon Thomas John Dennis (missionary in Nigeria), 1893-1917;
CMS/ACC91:Tucker MSS being the papers of Rev. John Tucker (Secretary of the Madras Corresponding Committee 1833-1847 and Secretary at Headquarters 1847-1852), 1826-1865;
CMS/ACC285: Moule MSS comprising papers of various members of the Moule family including family letters of Adelaide Moule (wife of Rev George Evans Moule, missionary in China, 1858-1875); and journals, circular and other letters of George Herbert Moule and his wife Edith ( missionaries in Japan, 1922-36) 1857-c 1950;
CMS/ACC348: Papers of Augustus Henry Lash (1838-1932, missionary), 1852-1921
CMS/ACC1027: Family papers of Dr Lilian Starr ('Stella') Underhill, CMS missionary 1955-1963

These Unofficial Papers also include collections of records of local CMS associations (supporting groups of CMS members) and associated organisations which may include minutes, financial records, reports and correspondence. They also include records of local associations of other societies with which the CMS has been linked or connected. Collections of this type include:
CMS/ACC260: Records of Derby and Derbyshire Church Missionary Association, 1819-1821
CMS/ACC309: Records of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society, Southport Association 1896-1958
CMS/ACC328: Records of the Bradford Church Missionary Association 1929-1967
CMS/ACC306: Records of the Kent Church Missionary Association, and the East Kent Church Missionary Association, 1821-49
CMS/ACC351: Records of Manchester CMS Association 1930-1971

These Unofficial Papers also include some collections of research papers relating to the history of the CMS, principally:
CMS/ACC87: Hole MSS being the research papers of Rev. Charles Hole, author of the 'The Early History of the Church Missionary Society', late 19th-early 20th cents (see also CMS/ACC2002);
CMS/ACC318: Research papers of Gordon Hewitt relating to his publication 'The Problems of Success, a history of CMS 1910-1942' (1971-1977).

In addition, the Unofficial Papers include numerous other small personal, family and miscellaneous collections and accessions, some of them consisting of only one or two items.

Please be aware that the records reflect attitudes of the time and include names, words, comments and personal opinions which may be found offensive, racist and derogatory.

Important: where digital and microfilm copies are available, for preservation reasons, these are made available in place of original documents.
NotesRequesting photographic records:

For preventive conservation reasons, a re-packaging project is underway to transfer photographs and film negatives in the CMS Unofficial Papers in to archive polyester pockets and clamshell boxes, and to custom box all of the photograph albums. Approximately 25 percent of the photographic records were re-packaged by Polly Watton, Cadbury Research Library student intern, June-July 2023 (CMS/ACC4-CMS/ACC344). Work will continue as resources allow.

Where photographs and film negatives have already been re-packaged this is indicated in the lower levels of the catalogue. If you wish to look at photographic records, please check the catalogue entry for advice on how to request this material. You may need to fill in additional retrieval slips.
ArrangementThe Church Mission Society Unofficial Papers are held as part of the Church Mission Society Archive, alongside the CMS official archive and other deposited and unofficial papers. The Unofficial Papers are catalogued as a discrete collection in which each separate deposit of records (accession) is allocated the next running number. Each accession is catalogued as a sub-fonds and the papers arranged into one or more series of records in accordance with a classification scheme designed by the CMS for cataloguing these Unofficial Papers. The scheme origianlly provided for the following series, each represented by a letter:
A: Administrative papers
C: Correspondence
EL: Literature
F: Family papers
O: Official papers
Q: Charity and ecclesiastical papers
T: Title deeds
Z: Miscellaneous papers

The categories were subsequently reduced to:
F: Family papers
O: Official papers
Z: Miscellaneous papers
Access ConditionsAccess to all registered researchers unless otherwise indicated in the appropriate sub-fonds level record.

Unpublished photographs of patients should not be copied.
Finding AidsThe catalogue to the CMS Unofficial Papers is available to see online. Click on the Finding Number to display the summary contents list and to view the catalogue in full. A paper copy, in several volumes, is available in Cadbury Research Library. Please note that a small number of collections within the CMS Unofficial Papers (CMS/ACC454, 496, 498, 513, 516, 577, 709, 771, 784, 807) are not catalogued.

In addition to the online and paper copies of the catalogue to the CMS Unofficial Papers, Cadbury Research Library also holds a manual card index, principally of names, to the CMS Archive; the index includes cross-references to some of the CMS Unofficial Papers.

The catalogue to the Unofficial Papers can be used alongside the 'Research Guide: Church Mission Society' compiled by Cadbury Research Library to assist with frequently asked questions about the CMS Archive including the CMS Unofficial Papers. Copies of the Guide are available in Cadbury Research Library on paper and online; a pdf copy is available online attached to the catalogue to the CMS Archive (Fonds level, see under ‘Document’). To request a copy in another format, please email or telephone 0121 414 5839.

The catalogues to the Church Mission Society Archive include terms copied from the records which are offensive and discriminatory. Personal and place names which are transcribed as they appear in the record include names imposed by colonial administrations and settler communities. The language reflects usage at the time the records were written. Historically, archive catalogues did not consistently use quotation marks ("...") to indicate where terms had been taken directly from the records. We are working to revise our finding aids to ensure that they do not make anyone feel excluded or unwelcome, or use prejudicial language, whilst also not removing information which reflects the impact of the past, and the historical context. Work is needed to add current names and context to the catalogue.
Access StatusOpen, but subject to some access restrictions
Administrative HistoryWhere appropriate, this information is supplied in the sub-fonds level records.
Custodial HistoryThe collection was originally held under the title 'Church Missionary Society Unofficial Papers'. In 2022 this was changed to 'Church Mission Society Unofficial Papers' to reflect the change of the Society's name.

Many Unofficial Papers were deposited with the Church Mission Society and subsequently transferred to Cadbury Research Library. The first transfer was made in the early 1980s when collections numbered up to about CMS/ACC350. A subsequent transfer was received in April 2005 which resulted in Cadbury Research Library holding the majority of the Unofficial Papers numbered CMS/ACC1 to CMS/ACC700 with a few exceptions. A further deposit was received in May 2007 (Acc 2007/24) and this filled in a number of gaps in the sequence prior to CMS/ACC700 and extended the sequence up to CMS/ACC900, again with a few exceptions. The following collections up to CMS/ACC900 have not yet been received: CMS/ACC152, 231, 327, 366, 369, 383, 384, 390, 397, 434, 436, 439, 468, 494, 560, 710, 755, 776-777.

In addition to collections that were transferred to the Cadbury Research Library after first being deposited with the Church Mission Society, a number of collections in the Unofficial Papers sequence have been deposited directly with Cadbury Research Library and further accruals are expected.

A few collections originally held within the Unofficial Papers have been deposited with other institutions or have been withdrawn by the depositor: CMS/ACC159-160 are with the British and Foreign Bible Society; CMS/ACC280 is in Hull University Library; CMS/ACC250 has been withdrawn by the depositor; CMS/ACC503 was transferred to the Imperial War Museum; and CMS/ACC566 is in the India Office Library.

The following numbers are no longer in use: CMS/ACC9, 25, 90, 108, 257, 259, 290, 294, 599. These numbers were allocated by the CMS on receipt of deposits, but the materials were subsequently catalogued with existing Unofficial Papers or were incorporated into the official archives of the CMS, as appropriate.
AcquisitionWhere appropriate, this information is supplied in the sub-fonds level records

Records from some of the collections in the CMS Unofficial Papers were micropublished as part of a project which brought together selected primary sources from collections held by the University of Birmingham, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire County Record Offices and Birmingham Central Library under the title: 'Women's Language and Experience, 1500-1940: Women's Diaries and Related Sources'. Publisher: Marlborough: Adam Matthew Publications, 1996.

Two collections of papers relating to CMS Secretaries, namely the papers of Henry Venn and the diaries of Max Warren, were micropublished under the title 'Church Missionary Society Archive, Section III, Central Records', as part of a project to micropublish the Church Mission Society Archive. Publisher: Marlborough: Adam Matthew Publications.

Where microfilm copies are available this is indicated in the online catalogue at sub-fonds level. See: CMS/ACC4; CMS/ACC21; CMS/ACC22; CMS/ACC81; CMS/ACC88; CMS/ACC113; CMS/ACC162; CMS/ACC209 and CMS/ACC882.

The microfilms, and accompanying printed guides, are available for consultation in Cadbury Research Library and elsewhere. The guide can also be seen online through Adam Matthew Publications at
Digital publication:

A few records from collections in the CMS Unofficial Papers have been digitally published by Adam Matthew Digital Ltd under the title: 'Empire Online'. Further details and URL links are given in the file level entries of the catalogue.

The microfilm of the papers of Henry Venn and the diaries of Max Warren have been digitally published by Adam Matthew Digital Ltd as part of AM Scholar: 'Church Missionary Society Archive: Central Records' (formerly 'Research Source - Church Missionary Society Archive'). Further details and URL links are given in the file level entries of the catalogue.

Selected images from three of the collections in the CMS Unofficial Papers have been digitally published as part of the Historical Photographs of China project and will be made available online under the title Cadbury Research Library at The project includes photographs from CMS/ACC256 Z1 (HPC reference: CL01); CMS/ACC281 Z1 (HPC reference: CL02) and CMS/ACC608 F3-4 (HPC references: CL03 and CL04).

An exhibition featuring copies of a selection of photographs from the CMS Unofficial Papers archive can be seen online through Cadbury Research Library Flickr pages: 'Turn of the century China: an exhibition of late 19th, and early 20th, century photographs' at (Cadbury Research Library, 2014).
Related MaterialCadbury Research Library holds the official archive of the Church Mission Society (GB 0150 CMS) and other deposited and unofficial archives which together form the wider CMS Archive:
Records of Local CMS Associations (CMS/SOC)
Records of the Persia Diocesan Association (CMS/PDA)
Records of the Sierra Leone Diocesan Association (CMS/SLDA) (Not held by Cadbury Research Library)
Records of Overseas Missions from records of overseas churches (CMS/Q)
Records of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society archive (CEZ)
Records of the Loochoo Naval Mission (L)
Records of the Mid-Africa Ministry (MAM)
Records of the Missionary Leaves Association (MLA)
Records of the Society for Promoting Female Education in the East (FES)


    Some of our most significant collections