Thinking about Missionaries’ Children in the History of Christian Missions

28 November 2023, 16:00 - 28 November 2023, 17:30 Divinity Faculty, Runcie Room


This paper marks a reflective end point for a project focused on the historical lives of British-world Protestant missionaries’ children, from the 1870s to the 1950s. While large in number, their voices were seldom heard and their lives until recently largely untold. This current study takes a more broadly comparative approach (using Scottish and New Zealand Presbyterianism as examples), focusing particularly on the early twentieth century. As such it utilises a range of published and unpublished sources, including oral history and written memoirs. Hermeneutically it takes a holistic approach (the overlapping narrative lenses of parents, institutions and children), informed further by scholarship in the fields of childhood history and the history of emotions. The paper will outline key study findings. It then considers historical sources and the place of children / young people, when thinking more broadly about the related fields of World Christianity and missionary history.


Hugh Morrison is Associate Professor of Education at the University of Otago, New Zealand, where he teaches, among other things, histories of childhood and education. His research background is in religious and children’s history (informed by a range of historiographies), focusing on both New Zealand and the wider British world. He pays particular attention to histories of childhood in relation to the Protestant missionary movement. Recent published work in this area includes essays in Scottish Church History (2023) and Studies in Church History (2022), alongside two monographs: Protestant children, missions and education (Brill, 2021) and Protestant missionary children’s lives c.1870-1950: Empire, religion and emotion (Manchester University Press, December 2023). He has also co-edited work on children’s religious history with Dr Mary Clare Martin, Greenwich University (Routledge, 2017).

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