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RG 38 - Miscellaneous Missionary Records
Scope and Content

Miscellaneous Missionary Records is a small, artificially assembled record group; however, these records provide valuable evidence of Oberlin’s support for foreign missionaries during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Files reflect the involvement of both Oberlin College and the Oberlin community in promoting the mission work of the Congregational Church. Due to their miscellaneous character, these records may best be utilized in conjunction with the personal papers of individual missionaries and related institutional holdings of the College Archives.

The group is arranged into three records series: Series I. Miscellaneous Files of Oberlin Missionaries and Organizations; II. Miscellaneous Files Relating to National Missionary Organizations; and III. Miscellaneous Missionary Publications. Within Series I and II, files are further divided into subseries. Thereunder, materials are arranged either chronologically or alphabetically by subject or type of material.

These records offer a modest profile of Oberlin College’s role in training its students for mission work. The files of Series I include a set of appointment forms for students from the classes of 1844 to 1910 who became missionaries. These forms supply student name, birth date, degrees taken, date of appointment, sponsoring organization, and mission station. Among those students represented in these files are the following China missionaries: Chauncey M. Cady (1854-1925), the Rev. Martin Luther Stimson (1856-1935), Francis W. Davis (1857-1900), and George (1858-1900) and Alice Moon Williams (1860-1952). Designated mission fields include Africa, India, Japan, China, Turkey, Brazil, Hawaii, Thailand, Syria, Jamaica, and Bulgaria.

Materials pertaining to the Oberlin Missionary Home Association more fully document Oberlin College’s enthusiastic support of foreign missionaries. Files record the founding of the Association and the funding and maintenance of the Tank Home, a boarding house for the children of foreign missionaries run by the Association. Included are early financial appeals (1894, 1909, 1922) from the Rev. Henry M. Tenney, D.D. (1841-1932), President of the Oberlin Missionary Home Association and member of the Oberlin College Board of Trustees (1885-1930); correspondence (1922-1923) of the Rev. Irving W. Metcalf (1855-1938; A.B. Oberlin 1878; B.D. 1881) regarding maintenance, repairs, and inspection of the Tank Home; and pamphlets (1890-1954) describing the history and activities of the Association. A 1949 memo from Oberlin College Treasurer William Potter Davis (1893-1975) to the College Board of Trustees relates to the transfer of the Home’s financial and real estate assets to Oberlin College.

The relationship between Oberlin College and the American missionary movement is illuminated by the miscellaneous records of three national missionary organizations: the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (A.B.C.F.M.), the American Missionary Association (A.M.A.), and the Woman’s Board of Missions of the Interior (W.B.M.I.). Meetings held in Oberlin by two of these organizations are documented by four folders in Series II: the 93rd Annual Meeting of the A.B.C.F.M. (October 14-17, 1902), and the 60th Annual Meeting of the A.M.A. (October 23-25, 1906). Files include a small amount of correspondence (1902, 1906) concerning local arrangements, accommodations, and turn-out; delegate rosters; and printed souvenir booklets of the meeting programs. Various publications of the American Board and the American Missionary Association, housed with these files, relate to missionary activities around the world. Of special interest is the 1907 report issued by the American Board’s Deputation to China describing conditions at mission stations recently reopened following the 1900 Boxer Rebellion. Additional printed materials (1886-1922, 1937-1967), published by various missionary organizations and Congregational publishing houses, are located in Series III.

Records of the Woman’s Board of Missions of the Interior, Ohio Branch, document the financial contribution of Ohio Congregational churches to the national organization. The nine ledgers (1888-1918) kept by the Treasurer of the W.B.M.I.’s Ohio Branch show annual subscriptions pledged over a forty-year period by churches throughout the state, including the First and Second Congregational churches in Oberlin. Filed with the records of the W.B.M.I. are seven pamphlets (1906-1922) published by the Woman’s Board describing the work of its missionaries.

Series Descriptions

Series I. Files of Oberlin Missionaries and Organizations, 1884-1938, 1954-1970, n.d. (0.4 l.f.)

Files are divided into two subseries: Files Relating to Oberlin Missionaries and Oberlin Missionary Home Association Files. Within each subseries, files are alphabetically arranged by type of material.

Subseries 1. Files Relating to Oberlin Missionaries, 1884-1954 (5f)

Consists of appointment forms of missionaries from the Oberlin College classes of 1844-1910, alphabetically arranged by student name; information about individual missionaries (1884-1932, 1951, n.d.); and letters sent in from the field (1916-1938, 1960-1970, n.d.).

Subseries 2. Oberlin Missionary Home Association Files, 1890-1954 (3f)

Includes correspondence regarding Tank Home (1894, 1909-1910, 1922-1923) and printed materials (1890-1954) published by the Association concerning the Home’s history, purpose, and transfer to Oberlin College. Correspondence is chronologically arranged.

Series II. Files Relating to National Missionary Organizations, 1866-1941, 1966 (1.4 l.f.)

Includes the records of three organizations, arranged into three subseries: Files of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (Boston); Files of the American Missionary Association (New York); and Files of the Woman’s Board of Missions of the Interior (Chicago).

Subseries 1. Files of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, 1866-1937, 1947 (2f)

Files pertaining to the Oberlin meeting (October 1902) of this organization include a small amount of correspondence regarding local arrangements; a delegates roster; and a souvenir pamphlet. Also filed here are miscellaneous publications of the national organization (1866-1937, 1947).

Subseries 2. Files of the American Missionary Association, 1891-1941, 1966 (4f)

Files mainly pertain to the Oberlin meeting of this organization, held in October 1906. Records include two folders of the incoming correspondence alphabetically arranged (1906) of Luther D. Harkness (1847-1919), Chairman of the local Entertainment Committee for the A.M.A. meeting; a delegates roster, and printed materials. Also included are various publications of the A.M.A. (1891-1941, 1966)

Subseries 3. Files of the Woman’s Board of Missions of the Interior, 1888-1922, n.d.

Records of the Woman’s Board of Missions of the Interior include nine ledgers (1888-1918) kept by the treasurer of the W.B.M.I., Ohio Branch. Ledgers are arranged in inexact chronological order, according to their entry dates. For the purposes of intellectual control, volumes are numbered consecutively on the attached inventory; however, the ledgers themselves are not numbered. Materials in this series are alphabetically arranged by name of organization and thereunder alphabetically by type of material or chronologically.

Series III. Publications of Other Missionary Organizations, 1886-1922, 1937-1967, 1984, n.d. (0.2 l.f.)

Contains printed leaflets, booklets, newsletters, and six issues (Jan-Feb 1920) of The Interchurch Bulletin (New York City) publicizing the work of various missionary organizations in the United States, Africa, China, and Japan. A series of publications (1905-1922) of the Congregational Sunday-School and Publishing Society and the Congregational Education Society relates to home missions among American Indians. Files are chronologically arranged.


Records were transferred to the Oberlin College Archives in three separate lots, in 1968, 1969, and 1986.

Related Materials

For records relating to missionary work carried on in the town of Oberlin, consult the Records (1869-1920) of the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society of the First and Second Congregational Churches of Oberlin (RG 31/6/12). See also the Records of the First and Second Congregational Churches (RG 31/4/1), 1836-1918. An article on the formal opening of Tank Home appears in The Oberlin Review for April 14, 1897 (pp. 311-12).

For records relating to Oberlin College’s involvement in mission work, consult the Records of the Oberlin Band of Student Volunteers for Foreign Missions and the Records of the Young Women’s Missionary Society (RG 19/3/1). Also consult Records of the Oberlin Shansi Memorial Association (RG 15). The Graduate School of Theology (RG 11), contains information relating to Oberlin Theological Seminary support for the Kyrias Girls School in Albania as well as for Slavic missions in Cleveland. Further information on home missions is available in Records of the Schauffler College of Religious and Social Work (RG 34).

The following collections in the Oberlin College Archives contain materials relating to China missionaries:
George Nelson Allen (RG 30/67)
Willard L. Beard (RG 30/76)
Paul Leaton Corbin (RG 30/49)
Lydia Lord Davis (RG 30/80)
Everett D. Hawkins (RG 30/130)
Irving W. Metcalf (RG 30/9)
Margaret Portia Mickey (RG 30/26)
C.N. Pond (RG 30/42)
A. Clair Siddall, M.D. (RG 30/145)
Alice Moon Williams (RG 30/58)
George Frederick Wright (RG 30/21)

The Papers of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions are available on microfilm in the Oberlin College Library. A guide to the microfilm collection is housed in the Archives. The College also holds in hard copy the annual reports of the American Board.

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