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Paris Evangelical Missionary Society

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0102 PEMS
Held at: School of Oriental and African Studies
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Full title: Paris Evangelical Missionary Society
Date(s): 1827-1935
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 3,923 microfiche
Name of creator(s): Paris Evangelical Missionary Society


Administrative/Biographical history:

The evangelical revival which produced, in England, the London Missionary Society and, in Switzerland, the Basel Mission, brought about in 1822 the foundation of the Société des Missions Evangéliques chez les peuples non-chrétiens á Paris (SMEP), a Protestant organisation known in English as the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society. Swiss and English evangelists active in France were instrumental in its foundation. Although its goal was to propagate the Gospel among non-Christians, it did not initially send missionaries overseas, but by 1829 the Society, urged by John Philip of the London Missionary Society, sent its first three missionaries to Southern Africa. Initial difficulties were followed by the foundation of a mission station in what is now Lesotho, where the missionaries Eugène Casalis and later Adolphe Mabille became advisers to the Basuto king Moeshoeshoe. Following 20 years service in Basutoland, François Coillard led an expedition north to found a new mission on the Zambezi River in the territory of the Barotse people, serving there until his death in 1904. In 1863 the SMEP started a mission in the French colony of Senegal, and later the colony of Gabon, where its missionaries replaced American Presbyterians uncomfortable under the French administration. German missions in Togo and Cameroun were taken over by the SMEP after World War One. In the Pacific, English-French rivalry resulted in France's annexation of New Caledonia, Tahiti, and the Loyalty Islands, where SMEP missionaries replaced missionaries of the London Missionary Society. In France the SMEP publicised its missionary work through speaking tours by missionaries on leave from their mission fields, pioneered by Casalis in 1850. Auxiliary committees were established and help solicited from interested parties in France and elsewhere. The SMEP founded its Bulletin in 1825 and the publication Journal des Missions Evangéliques in 1826. In addition to its evangelistic work, the Society also promoted better sanitary and agricultural techniques. The SMEP ceased to exist following the formation in 1971 of the Communauté d'Action Apostolique (CEVAA) and the Département Evangélique Français d'Action Apostolique (DEFAP).


Scope and content/abstract:

Microfiche copy of missionary correspondence in the archive of the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society, 1827-1935, comprising incoming correspondence from missionaries in the field in Algeria (Kabylia), 1885-1894, Cameroun, 1919-1935, Congo-Gabon, 1888-1935, Lesotho, 1827-1935, Madagascar, 1894-1935, Senegal, 1862-1935, Togo, 1930-1935, Zambia, 1880-1935, New Caledonia/Maré (Loyalty Islands), 1880-1884, 1890-1935, and Tahiti, 1865-1935.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

By geographical area and then by date.

Conditions governing access:


Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright held by the Département Evangélique Français d'Action Apostolique.

Finding aids:

Handlist produced by the publisher, including alphabetical and chronological indexes of the missionary correspondence.

Archival Information

Archival history:

The archives of the SMEP were retained by its successor the DEFAP.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Acquired in 2001.

Allied Materials

Related material:

IDC Publishers also produce on microfiche the other part of the archive of the SMEP, the home files, comprising outgoing correspondence to missionaries and other correspondents, 1822-1923, SMEP minutes, 1822-1935, SMEP reports, 1833-1971, DEFAP reports, 1972-1985, Ladies' Auxiliary records, 1825-1930, Auxiliary Committees' records, 1884-1928, and records of Consultative Conferences, 1900-1931; also the SMEP publication Journal des Missions Evangéliques, 1826-1940; and a documentary history of the Basotho, a collection of ethnographic documents made by the missionary David Frédéric Ellenberger covering the history of the Basothos from early times until 1854 (held at the Département Evangélique Français d'Action Apostolique, Paris).

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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