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bMS 1003

American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM). China, Records, c. 1816-1967: A Finding Aid.

Andover-Harvard Theological Library, Harvard Divinity School, Harvard University


Andover-Harvard Theological Library, Harvard Divinity School, Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: bMS 1003
Repository: Andover-Harvard Theological Library, Harvard Divinity School, Harvard University
Title: American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM). China, Records, c. 1816-1967.
Date(s): 1816-1967
Date(s): 1810
Date(s): 1807
Date(s): 1830
Date(s): 1840
Date(s): 1842,
Date(s): 1957
Date(s): June 29, 1961
Date(s): July 1, 2000
Date(s): 1816-1967
Quantity: 21 boxes
Abstract: This collection contains published pamphlets, informational brochures, unpublished reports, and some correspondence concerning the work of the ABCFM in China.

Acquisition Information:

This collection was donated by the United Church Board for World Ministries.

Processing Information:

Processed by Fran O'Donnell, 2014.


There are no restrictions on access to this collection.

Biographical / Historical

The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) was founded in 1810; the first organized missionary society in the United States. By the time of its centenary in 1910, the Board was responsible for 102 mission stations and a missionary staff of 600 in India, Ceylon, West Central Africa (Angola), South Africa and Rhodesia, Asiatic and European Turkey, four different regions in China, Japan, Micronesia, the Philippines, and the "Papal lands" of Mexico, Spain and Austria. There were also missions to American Indians, and a mission to Hawaii, where the church had achieved independence from the Board. The first Protestant missionary who went to China was Robert Morrison, sent out by the London Missionary Society in 1807. He began his work in Canton. The first missionary of the American Board to China was Rev. Elijah C. Bridgman. He sailed from New York and arrived in Canton in 1830. He was joined by other missionaries who included Dr. Peter Parker, who opened a dispensary in which a large number of patients were treated. The Opium War, which began in 1840, caused the total suspension of missionary labors in China. The war ended in 1842, and five of the principal ports were opened to commerce. These ports were Canton, Amoy, Foochow, Ningpo, and Shanghai. The American Board established missions in Foochow, Shanghai, Shansi, and South China. The ABCFM began as an inter-denominational society, including Presbyterian and Reformed churches, besides its core of Congregationalists. After some secessions due to the slavery issue and the formation by the Presbyterian Church of its own foreign mission board, the ABCFM was left as a Congregationalist body after 1870. In 1957, the Congregational Christian Churches merged with the Evangelical and Reformed Church to form the United Church of Christ (UCC). On June 29, 1961 the ABCFM was formally concluded, becoming part of the United Church Board for World Ministries (UCBWM), an instrumentality of the new denomination. On July 1, 2000, the UCBWM became Wider Church Ministries, one of the four covenanted ministries of the UCC. (from the finding aid for the ABCFM records at the Houghton Library, Harvard University, and Sketches of the Missions of the American Board in China, 1896)


Organized into the following series:

Scope and Contents

This collection includes published pamphlets, informational brochures, yearbooks, unpublished reports and a small amount of correspondence which describes the work of the ABCFM in China from 1816-1967. The ABCFM established missions in several areas of China, and the material describes the schools, hospitals, and rural programs that were established. The collection also touches on the work of other religious organizations in China. The last box contains tracts written in Chinese, which were probably published around the turn of the century in Singapore. Titles in English were written on the front of most of the tracts.

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