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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0102 IMC
Held at: School of Oriental and African Studies
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Date(s): 1910-1961
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
View subfonds/series records
Extent: 7,029 microfiche
Name of creator(s): International Missionary Council


Administrative/Biographical history:

The International Missionary Council (IMC) was established in 1921, the result of currents in Christianity apparent as far back as the World Missionary Conference held in Edinburgh in 1910. The IMC divided its work between its London office and a New York office, opened in 1924. There was later a Far Eastern office. The IMC linked 14 interdenominational associations of missionary societies, such as the Division of Foreign Missions of the National Council of Churches of Christ, USA, with 16 interdenominational field bodies, such as the National Christian Council of India. The Council served its member bodies through study, consultation and programmes of mutual assistance, addressing issues such as missionary freedom, general and theological education, opium addiction, labour, slavery, racial discrimination, the church in rural and industrial society, home and family life, and literature, and advised local and regional church bodies. Several major international conferences were held, the subjects of which included the message, especially in relation to modern secularism (Jerusalem, 1928); the study of the Christian message in a non-Christian world (Madras, 1938); the relevance of the gospel in a world recovering from war (Whitby, Ontario, 1947); church unity as a condition of effective witness and advance (Willingen, Germany, 1952); and the establishment of a theological education fund (Ghana, 1958). J H Oldham, John R Mott, William Paton and A L Warnhuis were among those instrumental in the Council's work. The IMC became a focus of the emerging ecumenical movement soon after its formation and had a close relationship with the World Council of Churches from 1939, becoming in 1961 the Division of (later Commission on) World Mission and Evangelism of the WCC. The periodical International Review of Missions was produced from 1912. See the biography of the Secretary of the World Missionary Conference of 1910: Keith Clements, Faith on the Frontier: a Life of J H Oldham (1999).


Scope and content/abstract:

Microfiche copy of the archive, 1910-1961, of the International Missionary Council, including records relating to early history and committees; staff and officers' correspondence; Committee on the Church and the Jewish People; papers on mission field subjects, industrial and social questions, war and missions, orphaned missions, intermission aid, missions and governments, alien missionaries, religious liberty, religious education, and Christian literature; finance papers; papers relating to the International Review of Missions; records of the Research Department, Department of Missionary Studies, and Study Centres; country files on Europe, Asia, East Asian Christian Conference, Burma, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Near and Middle East, Africa, North America, Latin America, Australia and the Pacific; records of the IMC assemblies at Jerusalem, 1928, Tambaram, 1938, Whitby, 1947, Willingen, 1952, and Ghana, 1957-1958; records of the Joint Committee relating to the integration of the IMC into the World Council of Churches; Commission on World Mission and Evangelism conferences at New Delhi, 1961, Mexico City, 1964, Bangkok, 1972-1973, and Melbourne, 1980; questionnaires and responses in preparation for the World Missionary Conference (Edinburgh, 1910).

Also the archive of the World Alliance for Promoting International Friendship through the Churches, 1906-1948.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:
Mainly English

System of arrangement:

Conditions governing access:


Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright held by the World Council of Churches.

Finding aids:

Handlist produced by the publisher. A description of the archive of the World Alliance for Promoting International Friendship through the Churches is also available online.

Archival Information

Archival history:

The IMC archive was moved from the London and New York offices to the World Council of Churches headquarters in Geneva in the 1950s and early 1960s.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Acquired in 2001.

Allied Materials

Related material:

The School of Oriental and African Studies holds records of the Conference of British Missionary Societies (Ref: CBMS); records of the Christian Literature Bureau for Africa and its succession by the International Committee on Christian Literature for Africa (part of the International Missionary Council) (Ref: ICCLA); joint archives of the International Missionary Council/Conference of British Missionary Societies relating to co-operative missionary endeavours in Africa (original files) and India (microfiche copy) (Ref: IMC/CBMS).

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Compiled by Rachel Kemsley as part of the RSLP AIM25 project. Sources: IDC Publishers, Missionary Archives on microfiche.

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:
May 2002

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