Scholars and other researchers have used the CCCW’s archive collections to research a wide range of topics. Here a handful of themes that are recur across the collection, though this is by no means an exhaustive list!

Cambridge in the world

Cambridge University has long been a hub for global Christian mission. The Centre’s archives contain a range of material related to these missionary activities. This includes:

  • a diverse collection of papers related to Henry Martyn, after whom the Centre’s Trust is named. In the early 19th century, Martyn gave up a promising academic career to become a missionary and Bible translator in India.
  • papers related to the Cambridge Mission to Delhi and its successor organization, the Cambridge Committee on Christian Work in Delhi. In the 1880s and onwards, Regius Professor Brooke Foss Westcott helped establish the Cambridge Mission to Delhi. The CCCWD carried on this work well into the twentieth century and continues to support the work of the Delhi Brotherhood. The papers of Thomas and Kathleen Falkner also give insight into Cambridge’s involvement with the church in India.
  • research material related to the Cambridge Seventy. In the 1950s, a group of students in the Cambridge Inter-Collegiate Christian Union looked back to the memory of the Cambridge Seven 70 years earlier and committed themselves to overseas mission. The archive contains oral history, personal papers, and other material related to members of the Cambridge Seventy.

Missionary movement and ecumenism

Two forces that shaped the history of Christianity in the 20th century were the missionary movement and ecumenical movement. The enthusiasm and new perspectives generated by the former led to the ground-breaking steps towards Christian unity taken by the latter. The Centre’s archive includes:

  • papers related to the 1910 Edinburgh Missionary Conference, a seminal moment in the history of Christian mission. The Centre’s collection includes a wide range of answers to a questionnaire on mission that was sent to missionaries around the world, as well as articles on the background to and discussions of the conference, and correspondence between conference organizers J.H. Oldham and John R. Mott. The collection also includes microfilm versions of documents, letters, and commission reports that emerged from the conference.
  • the papers of the Rev. Canon John Arnold, former dean of Durham in the Church of England and heavily involved in the ecumenical movement
  • material related to the formation of the United Reformed Church and the Council for World Mission. The formation of the URC and the CWM in the late 1960s and early 1970s were an expression of the profound connection between ecumenism and mission. The CCCW archive contains the papers of Ronald Bocking, who was heavily involved in establishing both organizations, as well as papers related to the Congregational Council for World Mission, a predecessor body to the CWM.

Social and political history of Africa

Religion—and Christianity—is part and parcel of African societies and communities. Material in the Centre’s archives sheds new light on how African communities have reacted to changing societal conditions and engaged politically. This material includes:

African churches after independence

As African countries gained independence in the 1960s and onwards, African churches did as well. In Anglican, Methodist, Catholic, and other churches, leadership passed from missionary hands to a first generation of indigenous leaders, who confronted economic uncertainty, political turmoil, and the violence of civil war, while also articulating a Christian theology that spoke to their particular context. The CCCW has a wealth of material related to the development of churches in this period, including:

  • a large collection related to the ministry of David Gitari, Anglican bishop of Mount Kenya East and later archbishop of the Anglican Church of Kenya. Gitari’s lengthy ministry saw him involved in international ecumenical dialogues, confronting political leaders, advocating for greater openness to African cultures in the church, and developing an innovative understanding of Christian mission. 
  • extensive material related to the life of the church in the country once known as Zaire and now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Through the corrupt rule of Mobutu Sese Seko and prolonged civil war, church leaders spoke out for their people, preached the gospel, and built the church. This is documented in correspondence with foreign supporters, including Philip Ridsdale and Theodore Lewis, and also in the large collection of material related to the Congo Church Association.
  • the papers of Patrick Crampton, who conducted extensive research on church growth in Nigeria in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, with a particular focus on the emergence of modern Pentecostal churches and the churches’ relationship with Islam
  • the papers of Mark Glasswell, who taught at theological colleges in Sierra Leone and Nigeria in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s and maintained extensive correspondence with church leaders including John Mbiti, John Pobee, and other African theologians, while also collecting material related to the life of African churches from the 1960s onwards.

East African Revival

The East African Revival transformed the churches of the region. Beginning in the 1930s in Rwanda, it spread to Uganda, Kenya and elsewhere, leading African Christians to challenge missionary leadership and shaping a whole generation of African church leaders. The CCCW archives contains the leading collection of material in the United Kingdom related to this movement, including:

  • the papers of Joe Church. This large collection (the largest in the CCCW archive) contains the notes, letters, journals, photographs, and other papers of the British missionary at Gahini, Rwanda who documented the beginning of the revival and worked alongside its leaders for many years afterwards.
  • the papers of Roy Billington, who worked at mission organizations in Uganda between 1937 and 1970 alongside many Revivalists.
  • the papers of Ralph and Bertha Leech, who worked in Uganda during the time of the Revival