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Papers of Neil Bernard (1909-1991)

Identifier: CSWC 46

Scope and Contents

The material consists of papers, reports, correspondence, articles and press cuttings relating to: (1) South Africa: includes some early records such as on Lovedale (1884-1950s), material on the Paris Evangelical Society (1917-1960s), and material on the reaction of the churches to events in South Africa (1960s-1970s). (2) Zimbabwe: with material on Christian reaction to events (1951-1979). (3) Zambia: includes correspondence about the Livingstonia Mission (Rhodesia) Provident Fund (1953-1958), and papers on Zambia and the churches (1936-1971). (4) Malawi: includes government reports (1889-1890s), material on the mission's medical work (1950-1958); church papers on the Nyasaland Commission of Inquiry or "Devlin Commission" (1959), material on the church and mission in Malawi including two early photographs (c 1910-20, 1958-1974). (5) Central African Federation: general material on reactions to Federation from church and mission (1951-1960s). (6) Kenya: includes accounts of Kenyatta in Edinburgh (1930-1934), and other material on Christianity in Kenya (1950s-1970s). (70 Nigeria: includes some early reports (1918-1923), material on the Civil War and its aftermath and Christian responses in terms of church and relief work (1967-1971), and some material relating to Ogu Kalu (1974-1975). (8) Other African countries and Africa General. (9) Latin America, China and Mission in General. (10) Betty Gibson and International Missionary Council: includes material on German missions (1918-1954) and reports and surveys on mission work in Africa (1928-1956). (11) Church of Scotland: with Church and Nation, Staffing and Medical Committee papers (1960-1974). (12) Conference of Missionary Societies: includes committee papers and material on Africa and Christian Literature (1953-1970). (13) British Council of Churches, Christian Aid and Social Change: includes papers and reports on BCC and other Christian Aid projects.


  • Creation: 1884-[ca. 1989]

Language of Materials

English German

Conditions Governing Access

Contact the repository for details.

Conditions Governing Use

Contact the repository for details.

Biographical / Historical

Neil Cameron Bernard, Church of Scotland missionary in Nigeria and Malawi and Foreign Mission secretary, was born in Edinburgh on 10 January 1909. After leaving school in 1924 Bernard worked as an accountant for the local stationers, Waterston and Sons, until in 1930 he was appointed a lay missionary to Calabar, Nigeria. He spent four years working in the Calabar book store returning in 1934 to train for the ministry. He studied at the University of Edinburgh and New College from where he received an MA in 1938. He was also student assistant at Dunfermline St John's between 1934 and 1936 and in 1938 spent some time at the University of Tübingen. Bernard was ordained for foreign mission service in Calabar in 1939, then from 1947 to 1949 he was Men Candidates' Secretary for the Foreign Mission Department of the Church of Scotland. He returned to the field in 1950, being appointed Regional Secretary for Central Africa based at Blantyre, Nyasaland (Malawi) and was also Secretary of the Nyasaland Christian Council between 1952 and 1959. Back in Edinburgh Bernard was Secretary for the Foreign Mission Committee Africa Area from 1960. He retired in 1976 and died on 15 January 1991.


25 boxes


The material is arranged as described above. Some of the material came to the Centre in files but some was loose and not ordered. Some files on different countries existed but a lot of the material relating to different topics had been filed in general files with no attempt to separate them by date or subject. To ensure ease of access the material was sorted and arranged into the sections described above.

Custodial History

The collection consists of material collected by Bernard in his official capacity as Foreign Mission secretary and also of material collected because of his interest in the history and development of missions. The collection includes some items that were possibly once part of collections now held elsewhere, such as the Betty Gibson and Arthur Barlow material.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was presented to the Centre for the Study of Christianity in the Non-Western World by Neil Bernard in 1990.


None expected.

Related Materials

The archives of the foreign missions of the Church of Scotland are held by the National Library of Scotland. Edinburgh University New College Library and the Centre for the Study of Christianity in the Non-Western World both have collections of Betty Gibson papers. The Centre also holds other papers relating to the Church of Scotland.


The biographical history was compiled using (1) an obituary in Life and Work (Church of Scotland, 1991), (2) Fasti Ecclesiae Scotticanae.

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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