Tanzania and Malawi in records from colonial missionaries, 1857-1965

Universities' Mission to Central Africa

Universities' Mission to Central Africa

We have more than one hundred & fifty of the people of this & neighbouring lands, living with us, calling me father, & receiving from us every day their food, an arrangement which must continue until next harvest
Bishop Mackenzie, Oct 1861The letters, journals of and material relating to Bishop Mackenzie c.1861-62; img 12

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See how missionaries to Central Africa formed relationships with native peoples


The Universities’ Mission to Central Africa (UMCA) was an Anglican missionary society established in the late 1850s. In 1965, the UMCA merged with the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG) to form the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (USPG). This collection contains documents relating to the UMCA’s activities in Tanzania and Malawi during the period 1857-1965. The papers provide an insight into the spread of Christianity in Central Africa. 


Tanzania and Malawi in records from colonial missionaries, 1857-1965...

Containing 54,550 pages belonging to 116 documents housed in 5 volumes...

View the Volumes & Documents 


Central Africa : a monthly record of the work of the Universities' Mission

Vol. 1-82 (1883-1964). This illustrated monthly magazine was the prime organ of the Universities' Mission to Central Africa (UMCA) until...

Missionaries' Correspondence

This correspondence reveals a history of the mission's relationship with the native people they sought to convert which is at...

Missionaries' Journals

These items mainly consist of narratives of Africa as it was experienced by the first missionary settlers. Within such accounts...

Miscellaneous Correspondence

These assorted narrative accounts provide a detailed insight as to the changing nature of missionary work once Christian missionaries started...


  • These missionaries adopted a researcher's style of reporting, learning what they could of the natives and sharing what they had learned. These items engaged with both tribes and the local Swahili language.
  • Among the journals is that of Bishop Steere's between 1863 and 1868. These records name places that he passed through and describes native tribes that he heard of or saw, naming their leaders.
  • The 'miscellaneous' items include the 'Dini' book of religious teachings which also describes Africans being maltreated by the German rulers of East Africa, and a Decree against slavery by the Sultan of Zanzibar in 1890.
  • The 'Central Africa' magazine included descriptions of events that the missionaries had experienced. The Masasi Disaster is covered from image 7 of the 1883 edition; this was a conflict with the Wagwangwara tribe.
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