by Peter Teo
The Collections

Housed at SOAS Library, University of London, since 1973, the archives of the Council for World Mission are a unique historical resource for the study of the global spread of the Christian faith over the last 200 years. Users include: academic researchers, family historians, churches, and communities from around the world.

The Collection documents the work of European missionaries, and the indigenous evangelists and converts with whom they worked, in many parts of Africa, Asia, the Pacific and the Caribbean. Records in the archive span the whole history of the organisation – from the foundation of the London Missionary Society in 1795, to the creation of the Council for World Mission in 1977 and include CWM records into the present day. As such, The Collection documents the transition from a traditional missionary society of the colonial period, through the growth of independent churches, to CWM’s model of partnership of churches in mission where missionaries go ‘from everywhere to everywhere’.

The archive incorporates records of the Council’s predecessor bodies – the London Missionary Society (1795-1966), the Commonwealth (formerly Colonial) Missionary Society (1836-1966) and the English Presbyterian Mission (1843-1972).

The collections also include a reference library comprising over 13,000 published books and pamphlets, including periodicals, magazines, reports, translations, and resources written for children by the London Missionary Society.

Accessing the Archives

The Council for World Mission archives are available for consultation in the Special Collections Reading Room, SOAS Library.

Please contact SOAS to arrange a visit or make a research enquiry.

Phone: +44 (0)20 7898 4180
Postal address:
Special Collections
SOAS Library
Thornhaugh Street
Russell Square
London, WC1H 0XG, UK

Details of services offered by Special Collections, SOAS Library, can be found at:

Catalogue records for the CWM archive are available at: or through the UK JISC Archives Hub

CWM leaflet, 1977 © CWM
Crew of missionary ship ‘John Williams V’, 1925 © CWM