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RG 38 - Miscellaneous Missionary Records
Brief Histories of Missionary Organizations Represented in “Miscellaneous Missionary Records”

The Oberlin Missionary Home Association

At the request of the Ohio Branch of the Woman’s Board of Missions of the Interior, the Oberlin Missionary Home Association was chartered by the State of Ohio in 1890 for the purpose of founding and maintaining in Oberlin a home for the children of foreign missionaries. Among the nine incorporators were the Rev. Irving Metcalf (1855-1938), the Rev. Henry M. Tenney (1841-1932), and Professor William G. Ballantine (1848-1937) of Oberlin Theological Seminary. Mrs. Sarah Cowles Little (1838-1912), for ten years the Treasurer of the W.M.B.I. Ohio Branch, served as the Association’s Secretary. Oberlin was selected as the location of a children’s home because of its excellent public schools; its unusual social, musical, and religious advantages; and because of the co-educational system of the College, which allowed brothers and sisters to complete collegiate work in the same location. Funds were raised for the building of the Tank Home, which was completed in 1897 and named after the Norwegian missionary Nils Otto Tank. With the increase in educational facilities for children in foreign lands, there were not enough children to pay to operate the Home, and it was leased to Oberlin College in 1922. The Oberlin Missionary Home Association was dissolved in 1950 and its assets transferred to the College.

The Woman’s Board of Missions of the Interior, Ohio Branch

The Woman‘s Board of Missions was formed in Boston in 1868 as an auxiliary body of the American Board. Its purpose was to organize the work of women on the home front in support of foreign women missionaries. The Woman’s Board of Missions of the Interior, serving the Midwest with its office in Chicago, was established in 1868, followed in 1873 by the Woman’s Board of the Pacific, with the states west of the Rockies as its territory, and its headquarters at Oakland, California. Field secretaries carried out fundraising and business activities for their region and supervised branch operations at the state level. The work of the W.B.M.I. and its regionals in fundraising, visiting foreign stations, and in maintaining girls’ schools and hospitals, enlarged the work of the American Board in all its mission fields.

The American Missionary Association

The American Missionary Association was formed in 1846 in Syracuse, New York in response to the Mendi Mission to Africa, which had repatriated the Amistad freemen in 1841. The Rev. George Whipple (1805-1876) of Oberlin College served as the first Executive Secretary, and Oberlin benefactors Arthur (1786-1865) and Lewis Tappan (1788-1873) were among the principal contributors to the new association. From its beginnings, A.M.A. missionaries were deeply committed to the abolitionist cause. By 1850, the A.M.A. had stations among fugitive slaves in Canada, as well as in Hawaii, Jamaica, and among the Dakota tribes of North America. During and after the Civil War, from 1862-1877, the A.M.A. sent thousands of teachers to establish schools in the New South. Today, the A.M.A. supports black education through its close ties to several southern colleges, including LeMoyne College in Memphis, Tennessee, Fisk University in Nashville, Talladega College in Talladega, Alabama, and Tougaloo College, in Tougaloo, Mississippi. The A.M.A. is currently a division of the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries, based in New York.

American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions

The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions was established at a meeting of Congregational ministers in Bradford, Massachusetts in 1810. As stated in its original Constitution, the Board’s purpose was to “devise, adopt, and prosecute, ways and means for propagating the gospel among those who are destitute of the knowledge of Christianity.” The Board annually elected a President, Vice-President, a Recording Secretary, a Corresponding Secretary, a Treasurer, and a Prudential Committee. The first missionaries of the American Board sailed for Calcutta in 1812. Missions opened in Sri Lanka in 1816, in Madura in 1834, and in Madras in 1836. The Board’s first missions in Turkey were established in 1819, in Greece and China in 1830, and in Africa in 1834. North China was opened to the Board’s missionaries in 1883 when graduates of the Oberlin Theological Seminary settled in Taigu, Shansi Province, establishing a medical clinic, opium refuge, and chapel. Eight years after the 1900 Boxer Rebellion, the Oberlin Shansi Memorial Association took over the Shansi Mission of the Board, which had been destroyed by the Boxers. Still in existence after 182 years, the American Board is now known as the United Church Board for World Missions, and its headquarters are in New York City.Sources Consulted

Sources Consulted

Annual Reports of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, 1810-20 (Boston: Crocker and Brewster, 1834).

Strong, William E, The Story of the American Board (Boston: The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, 1910).

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