RepositoryLambeth Palace Library
LevelSeries
Alt Ref NoMU/OS/5
Extent748 files
TitleDiocesan files
Date1897-1997
DescriptionThe files in this series contain the communication between Mary Sumner House and Mothers' Union branches and Workers overseas. Early work of the Mothers' Union overseas developed first among the ex-patriot community in the late nineteenth century. The MU believed that the integrity of Christianity should be witnessed by the example of its adherents, and consequently there was much work to be done to support women to lead virtuous lives as a paragon of Christian motherhood. Missionary work among indigenous populations soon followed, relying on the inclination of individual MU members living overseas, and consisted of working with recently or nominally converted Christians rather than the actual work of converting. From 1909 missionary efforts took on a more official status within the MU when it agreed to fund an SPG missioner, Anna Rix, to work with women in South India; similar agreements were later reached with the Church Missionary Society and Church of England Zenana Missionary Society. Besides funding women who worked for other missionary societies, the MU began to provide its own 'Overseas Workers', who although employed by the local bishops, were financed and trained by the MU and were assigned specifically to Mothers' Union work.

The work of the MU Overseas Workers was a mixture of development work - such as health education, literacy, skills for running a home - and promoting Christian teaching in general and specifically regarding family life. Typical work undertaken is indicated in the descriptions for each province within this series. Besides correspondence relating to the activities carried out, the files occasionally contain histories of branches or MU activity in a diocese, minutes of provincial or diocesan meetings, itineraries of Overseas Workers within their region or of home members visiting overseas branches. Early correspondence with the branches tends to be with any member, but by the mid twentieth century it was usually conducted through the Diocesan President or Secretary of the local bishop.
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