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Church of Scotland China (Manchuria) Collection

Identifier: CSWC 40

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of: some early material relating to the mission in Manchuria including letters from John Ross (1870) and a memoir by Ethel Omelvena (1957); Moukden Medical College annual statements (1911-1948); material relating to the mission after the Second World War including extracts from minutes and reports and circular letters from missionaries (1946-1968); reports on visits to China (1980s); photographs of Manchuria, the mission and church (c 1910-1940s); maps and plans; Chinese language newspapers; hymns and songs; and illustrations, sketches, wall-hangings, posters and miscellaneous artwork, many used in evangelising.


  • Creation: 1870-[ca. 1986]

Language of Materials

English Chinese

Conditions Governing Access

Contact the repository for details.

This is collection is open. Screened by KM Stewart, 14 March 2022.

Conditions Governing Use

Contact the repository for details.

Biographical / Historical

The Foreign Mission Committee (later Board of World Mission and Unity) of the Church of Scotland was responsible for the Church's mission work around the world. In 1824 the Church's General Assembly resolved to send its first missionary to India and appointed Alexander Duff who arrived in Bombay in 1830. The first missionary to China arrived at I'chang in 1878 but by that time the Disruption of 1843 had led to the split of the Free Church of Scotland from the main Church and the United Presbyterian Church had been formed in 1847. This latter Church sent its first missionary, Dr John Ross, to Manchuria in 1872 and, in co-operation with the Irish Presbyterian Church, the work grew steadily in evangelical, medical and educational areas. The Chinese Presbytery (later Synod of Manchuria) was formed in 1891 and in 1899 the Theological College was established at Moukden. In 1900 the United Presbyterian Church joined with the Free Church of Scotland and the missionaries became the responsibility of the new United Free Church transferring to the Church of Scotland in 1929 when the two Churches joined. Despite the Boxer rebellion of 1900 the mission continued to flourish, there was a period of revival in 1908 and Moukden Medical College was opened in 1912. Conditions were never easy for the missionaries, and they suffered sever disruption during the Japanese occupation (from 1931) and the Sino-Japanese War (from 1937). However in January 1941 there were over seventy Church of Scotland missionaries in Manchuria but the entry of Japan into the Second World War meant that the missionaries were either evacuated or interned by the Japanese. After the war some of the missionaries were invited back to Manchuria, the first arriving in 1946, but by the end of 1948, with the whole of Manchuria in communist hands, it became increasingly difficult to work effectively. The main group of missionaries withdrew during 1949 and all had left by August 1950. The Church attempted to keep in touch with developments in China, or with Chinese Christians who had left the country: missionaries and church officials were members of various China focus groups and during the 1980s they took part in the first official Church visits to China.


5 boxes (8 rolled items)


The material is arranged as described above. Before it was deposited at the Centre it was listed in some detail by the Church of Scotland, these lists are in the relevant files and boxes.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was presented to the Centre for the Study of Christianity in the Non-Western World by the Church of Scotland in 1993.


None expected.

Related Materials

The archives of the foreign missions of the Church of Scotland are held by the National Library of Scotland, some of the material in that collection may duplicate this material. The Centre has several other collections relating to mission work in Manchuria and to the Church of Scotland, including large sets of slides and lantern slides. Austin Fulton in Through Earthquake Wind and Fire (Edinburgh: The Saint Andrew Press, 1967) describes the missionary work in Manchuria and includes a list of sources. The Centre has many pamphlets and journals and some bound minutes relating to missions in China, some of which came from the Church of Scotland.

Also within the ArchivesHub the Edinburgh University Library collection of Records of the Church of Scotland General Assembly may be of interest.


The administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) National Library of Scotland Catalogue of Manuscripts. Vol. 6. Edinburgh: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1984, (2) Fulton, Austin. Through Earthquake Wind and Fire. Edinburgh: The Saint Andrew Press, 1967.

Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
+44(0)131 650 8379