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Theological and Missionary Archives

The following are our chief archive and manuscript resources for research in theology, history of religion, and missionary studies.

This list, however, is by no means comprehensive. For a fuller overview of our collections, consult the Archives Catalogue.


Founded in 1843 as the theological college of the Free Church of Scotland, New College is now home to the University of Edinburgh's Faculty of Divinity. Its archival collections cover significant individuals and bodies connected with the Free Church of Scotland, Church of Scotland and the College itself. Major collections include the papers of Robert Baillie, Thomas Chalmers, James Denney, James King Hewison, James Kirkwood, Robert Murray McCheyne, John McIntyre, J. H. Oldham, John Walker Porteous, Oliver Shaw Rankin, James S. Stewart, Alexander Thomson of Banchory-Devenick, John White, and James Whyte. New College Library also holds the archives of the Centre for the Study of World Christianity, which include extensive records of missionaries and missionary societies.

Theological Archives

John Baillie (1886-1960) was a major Scottish theologian and a leading figure in the Christian ecumenical movement. He served as Professor of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh from 1934 to 1959 and Principal of New College. The collection includes: personal and professional papers and correspondence; lectures and broadcasts; sermons and prayers; papers relating to the World Council of Churches, British Council of Churches, and the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. There are also extensive Baillie family papers.

Robert Flint (1838-1910) was a philosopher and theologian whose widely read books and pamphlets argued that belief in God remained reasonable in the light of scientific advances. He served as Professor of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh from 1876 to 1903. The collection consists of notes for lectures, correspondence, essays, sermons, speeches, notes for lectures, and photographs. A further Flint collection is in New College Library.

Missionary Archives

John William Arthur (1881-1952) was a Church of Scotland medical missionary in British East Africa (present-day Kenya). He exerted pressure on the British colonial government to introduce reforms in the areas of education, land ownership, and labour. His papers include diaries, correspondence, and memoranda on social issues.

Arthur Ruffell Barlow (1888-1965) was a Church of Scotland missionary in British East Africa (present-day Kenya) with a strong commitment to land reform and indigenous rights. A skilled linguist, he had an intimate knowledge of Kikuyu language and culture. The collection includes: notes on Kikuyu languages and traditions; papers and correspondence relating to Barlow's missionary work; family correspondence; and papers concerning the Mau Mau Uprising against British colonial rule.

Joseph Booth (1851-1932) was a Baptist Church missionary in British Central Africa (present-day Malawi) and South Africa. Known for his radical religious views and egalitarian, anti-racist politics, he advocated higher wages and more political power for Africans. The papers consist of family correspondence and photographs, copies of publications by and about Booth, and correspondence between the Booth family and Professor George Shepperson.

Stanley Booth-Clibborn (1924-1996) was an Anglican missionary in Kenya who campaigned for social justice and indigenous rights. He sought to promote church unity and to develop African church leadership during the Mau Mau Uprising against British colonial rule. On his return to the United Kingdom, he was elected Bishop of Manchester. The collection consists of correspondence, papers, and photographs relating to church work in Kenya (both before and after independence), and materials connected to Booth-Clibborn’s monitoring of elections in newly independent Namibia (1989-1990).

Will Freshwater (1872-1936) was a Congregational Church missionary in Northern Rhodesia (present-day Zambia). He conducted important linguistic studies and participated in the translation of the New Testament into the Chibembe language. The papers include: notes on language, customs, and traditions; drafts and offprints of articles, memoranda, and reports; sermon notes; family correspondence, photographs, and diaries.

Robert Laws (1851-1934) was a medical missionary for the Free Church of Scotland in present-day Malawi and Nigeria who founded over 700 schools. A skilled linguist he translated the New Testament into Nyanja, published an English-Nyanja dictionary, compiled English-Gunda vocabularies, and published works in the Tonga language. The papers consist of correspondence and notebooks mainly relating to his work at the Livingstonia Mission (Malawi) and to his study of African languages.

Eric Liddell (1902-1945) was an Olympic Gold-winning athlete and Congregational Church missionary. His 400 metre triumph at the 1924 Paris Olympics, while still a student of Edinburgh University, is celebrated in the film Chariots of Fire. He subsequently worked as a missionary teacher in China. The small collection includes Liddell's Olympic medals (which also include his bronze for the 200 metres and his participant's medal) and sports programmes of Edinburgh University Athletic Club.

Alexander Gillon MacAlpine (1869-1957) was a Free Church of Scotland missionary present-day Malawi who conducted important research into indigenous languages. He prepared a dictionary of the Chitonga language and translated the New Testament into Chitonga. The papers include biographical notes on colleagues, diaries, travel notes, notes on folk traditions, correspondence, and photographs.

Kenneth Mackenzie (1920-1971) was a Church of Scotland missionary in present-day Malawi and Zambia who played a prominent role in the drive towards church union and in the transfer of mission schools to state control. On his return to Scotland, he became one of the founders and leading spirits of the anti-apartheid movement. The collection includes papers relating to the political and religious situation in Central Africa; to South Africa and the anti-apartheid campaign; and to race relations and immigration in the United Kingdom.

Earle Monteith Macphail (1861-1937) was a United Free Church of Scotland missionary in India. He was appointed Professor of History and Economics at Madras Christian College and subsequently served as Principal of the College and Vice-Chancellor of Madras University. He was also active in politics as a member of the Indian Council of State. The collection includes notes of lectures, papers relating to Madras Christian College, personal papers including correspondence, and materials relating to the University of Edinburgh's tercentenary celebrations.

William Hutton Marwick (1863-1940) was a Congregational Church missionary in Nigeria, Jamaica, and India. He was also a keen literary scholar with a particular interest in John Ruskin and Thomas Carlyle. The papers consist of personal and family correspondence, correspondence relating to the Malibar Mission (Nigeria), and correspondence relating to the Ruskin Reading Guild and Marwick's editorship of literary journals. There are also diaries kept by Marwick and his wife Elizabeth Hutton.

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