Billy Graham Center
How Can I Find Information on My Ancestor
Who Was a Missionary with
Africa Inland Mission or China Inland Mission?
Over the last century hundreds of individuals went out to Africa and China as missionaries. Information which document the lives of many of these individuals is located in the records of Africa Inland Mission, International and the United Council Home Council of the Overseas Missionary Fellowship (formerly China Inland Mission).
Finding a Missionary with Overseas Missionary Fellowship (China Inland Mission)
First determine if the individual you are searching for was sent out by the American or British branch of the mission. The records of the British branch are in the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London while the BGC Archives has the records of the United States branch.
Next check the index for individuals for whom there are Personnel Cards or Post Council Questionnaires; 1887-1934.
- Personnel Cards are brief records of the pertinent information on many CIM/OMF missionaries sent by the U.S. Council. The cards contain spaces for the following information: name, home address, birthplace, date of birth, nationality, date and place of marriage, date accepted, ordination, church affiliation, colleges and Bible schools attended, medical training, degrees, passport number, passport location and validation date, places of service; name, birthplace, date of birth, nationality of children; name, address, phone, nationality of father, mother, and nearest friend, furloughs granted, dates and ports of arrival and departure. In many cases, some information is not provided.
- Post Council Questionnaires are forms filled out by missionary candidates after they had been accepted for work in China by the mission council. The forms for United States candidates include spaces for the following information: name, age, date of birth, home address, country of birth, citizenship, vaccinations, dental work needed, is will made, postal address, denominational preference, who to notify in case of emergency. The forms for Canadian candidates include spaces for the following information: name, address, application, question paper, medical certificates, referees, doctrinal statement, decision of council, journey to China, support, parents' names and address, pastor's name and address.
- OMF/CIM Directories which list every missionary (American, British and others) and the area where they were serving during the years 1900 to 1990 and the year they joined the mission. The directories in boxes 1 and 2 have been microfilmed and may be borrowed by inter-library loan.
- Minutes of the China Council contain information on the arrival, departure, movements, marriages, problems, and deaths of missionaries. These can only be searched chronologically as there is no index to the missionaries.
- The Billy Graham Center Library has many books about OMF/CIM as well as the mission's periodical China's Millions which began in 1875. There are hundreds of articles by individual missionaries describing their work and memorials for some of those who died. Possibly there is an article by the missionary in whom your are interested. Be sure to check the library catalog.
Finding a Missionary with Africa Inland Mission
Check the index for individuals whom there are Personnel Files.
- Personnel Files were kept for over seven hundred missionaries who served with Africa Inland Mission. These files contain a variety of materials which document the lives of these missionaries. Materials may include applications to AIM, life sketches, medical examination reports, character references, correspondence between the missionary and mission representatives, lists of relatives, and other documents. Information in these papers may include place and date of birth for the applicant and his/her parents (sometimes including mother's maiden name), marriage dates, educational background, occupation, residences, places of service in Africa, etc.
- AIM Officers, Field Directors, Staff Workers. If your ancestor was a leader with AIM be sure to consult the lists for these individuals. Information on the positions they held and dates of service is given.
- Miscellaneous Information on AIM missionaries is located in the twenty-four loose-leaf notebooks of Stanley Kline in Collection 477. These notebooks (photo albums) are arranged in alphabetical order and contain clippings, photographs, notes and other materials about individual AIM missionaries whose careers fell between the 1890s and 1990s. Most of the clippings came from Inland Africa or other AIM publications.
- The Billy Graham Center Library has the publications of AIM going back to 1896 when it was first published under the name Hearing and Doing, later Inland Africa, and now AIM International. Be sure to check the library catalog.
Materials of Missionaries to Africa or China
The Archives has many collections of materials on individual missionaries who served in Africa or China with AIM or OMF/CIM or other mission organizations. Some of these collections contain oral history interviews and/or the missionaries' personal papers consisting of correspondence, prayer letters, diaries, clippings, photographs, photo albums, articles, etc. To locate these go to the Archives online database and do a name search for the individual you are interested in.
Please be aware that the purpose of this page is to provide information on
some of the most relevant Archives holdings relating to this often-asked question.
Because of staff and time limitations, the BGC archivists can spend no more
than a half-hour helping an individual researcher; we have to focus our efforts
on gathering the material and making it available. In order to find all the
materials in the Archives on this particular topic, you will need to personally
go through the guides to the various Archives collections available at this
Web site and in the Archives Reading Room in the Billy Graham Center building
in Wheaton, Illinois. If your request will take longer than the half hour we
can provide, you will either need to come to the Archives yourself to do the
necessary research in our collections, arrange for someone to come and do the
research for you, or pay to use the Archives' research
You can also do further independent searching of the online
database to explore what the Archives has on a wide variety of subjects.
You will find only a very small sampling of the Archives actual documents on
this Web site. Most of our Web pages only describe what is at the Archives in
Wheaton. In most cases you must visit the Archives to use our collections, unless
a collection (or portion of it) is available through inter-library
loan or as a short-term
loan for a fee. You may also find it helpful to visit Wheaton College's
to its libraries and archives (including the Billy Graham Center Archives).
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Last Revised: 3/12/04
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