The archive in the Mission House: networked and used worldwide


Vijay and Jessie Hebbal from India find traces of the
History of her church and her family. Photo Miriam Glass

The archive of Mission 21 and the Basel Mission sees itself as a research archive and as part of the international learning community. Researchers from all over the world visit the archive to pursue their studies here. This is both a task and an obligation for Mission 21.

What products could be bought at markets on the Gold Coast in the mid-19th century? How were girls educated in India at the same time? What scenes played out in Chinese villages during the civil war in the 1930s? Researchers are exploring a wide variety of topics and issues. They can find sources in the archives of Mission 21 and the Basel Mission.

International Researcher Community
The archive contains about two kilometers of files, about 50,000 historical photographs and 7,000 maps and plans. The task of the archive team is to make the documents accessible and to support researchers in their work. These come to Basel not only from Switzerland and Germany, but also from the former mission territories, especially India, China, Ghana and Cameroon.
For example, Dr. Mukesh Kumar from Delhi, who is currently doing research at ETH Zurich. He says: "The excellently organized archive of the Basel Mission enabled me to find the sources on missionary activities in South India and to develop an understanding of the complex workings of missionary work and interaction with people at home and abroad."

Great diversity of languages
Most of the sources in the archive are written in German. However, the holdings also include reports by native catechists in English, as well as documents and printed matter in the languages of the mission areas, whether Ga or Twi in Ghana, Kannada and Malayalam in India, or Hakka in China. These collections are unique in the world. One example is the Christian Messenger magazine, the oldest continuously published faith-based publication in Ghana and one of the earliest newspapers ever published in the country. The first copies from 1883 onwards can only be found in our archives, as can the successor title "Kristofo Senkekafo", which appeared on Twi from 1912 onwards.

New archives are opened
The archive is not only available to researchers, but also supports partner churches and organizations on anniversaries or in researching their history. One example is the Tsung Tsin Mission in Hong Kong. Oisze Cheung, Managing Director of TTM says: "The Basel Mission Archive is a very good example for us. The TTM has set up its own small archive. We have learned a lot from the Basel archive and appreciate it very much."
The archive is based in Basel, but is networked worldwide. We will continue to improve the accessibility of the records, for example by digitizing sources and creating online access. In this way, the archive is making an important contribution to an international learning community from which everyone benefits.

Text: Patrick Moser, Mission 21

Stories about individual documents in our archive can be found here: ► Research archive

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Mission 21
Protestant Mission Basel

PO Box 270
Missionsstrasse 21
4009 Basel, Switzerland
Tel.: +41 (0)61 260 21 20

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Account No. : 1032333

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