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Holmes, John Henry

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0102 CWM/LMS Papua New Guinea Personal Boxes 3-7
Held at: School of Oriental and African Studies
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Full title: Holmes, John Henry
Date(s): 1893-1933
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 4.5 boxes
Name of creator(s): Holmes | John Henry | 1866-1934 | missionary


Administrative/Biographical history:

Born at Harbertonford, Devon, England, 1866; studied at Western College; appointed London Missionary Society (LMS) missionary to the Fly River District, Papua, ordained in Plymouth, and travelled to Papua, 1893; visited the Fly River and Western Stations and returned to Thursday Island; at Port Moresby for a time; appointed to the Elema district and settled at Jokea, 1894; visited the mission stations in the (Torres) Straits and Fly River and returned to Jokea, 1895; to benefit his health, went with the mission ship the SS John Williams IV on its round of visits to the South Sea stations, 1896; returned to Papua and moved to Orokolo, 1897; visited England and married Alice Middleton (d 1941) in Plymouth, 1901; returned with his wife to Papua, 1902; volunteered to move to the Purari Delta, 1904; visited Australia to superintend the construction of a launch, the Purari, 1905; settled at Urika, 1906; visited Australia for health reasons, 1911; went to Sydney for his wife's health, 1917; the couple returned to England, 1919; retired from active service, 1920; an authority on the Elema cultures; died in Streatham, London, 1934. Publications: By Canoe to Cannibal Land (1923); In Primitive New Guinea (1924); Way back in Papua (1926).


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers, 1893-1933, of John Henry Holmes, comprising diaries, 1893-1900, 1906-1907, 1915, including observations on his activities and on life in Papua and notes on subjects including anthropology; correspondence with Alfred Cort Haddon, 1904-1906, 1922, comprising letters received and copy letters sent and chiefly concerning Holmes' study of Elema totemism; typescript articles on Papuan beliefs, including the totemism of the Elema tribes, 1914 and undated; printed comparative tables of languages spoken in different parts of Papua, 1915; photographs showing examples of the technology of the Orokaiva tribes of northern Papua; sketch maps of Papua; manuscript notes on anthropology, 1913; typescript children's stories about missionary work and life in Papua, set in the Moru and Urika districts, 1933 and undated.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Conditions governing access:


Conditions governing reproduction:

No publication without written permission. Apply to archivist in the first instance.

Finding aids:

Unpublished handlist to file level.

Archival Information

Archival history:

The papers were deposited with the London Missionary Society and form part of the special series of personal papers of individual LMS missionaries and officers.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Deposited on permanent loan with the records of the London Missionary Society by the Congregational Council for World Mission (later Council for World Mission) in 1973.

Allied Materials

Related material:

The School of Oriental and African Studies holds the records of the London Missionary Society (Ref: CWM/LMS), including letters from individual missionaries, among them Holmes (Ref: CWM/LMS Papua New Guinea Incoming Correspondence); his candidate's papers (Ref: CWM/LMS Candidates' Papers Box 7 No 48); a letter of Holmes to A W Whitley, 1905 (Ref: CWM/LMS Papua New Guinea Miscellaneous Box 1/2); letters from Holmes to J J K Hutchin, 1895-1905 (Ref: CWM/LMS Papua New Guinea Personal Box 1/9); reports by Holmes from Papua, 1895-1917 (Ref: CWM/LMS Papua New Guinea Reports Boxes 1-3 passim); photographs of Holmes and his wife (Ref: CWM/LMS General Portraits Box 2); photographs of Holmes in Papua (Ref: CWM/LMS Papua New Guinea Photographs Boxes 2, 11) and photographs of Papua given by Holmes to A W Whitley in 1937 (Ref: CWM/LMS Papua New Guinea Photographs Box 10). SOAS also holds an obituary of Holmes, 1934 (Ref: CBMS/H/PB28/93/74).

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Compiled by Rachel Kemsley as part of the RSLP AIM25 project. Sources: LMS Register of Missionaries, ed James Sibree; British Library OPAC.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Mar 2002

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