Research archive

    The world-renowned archive of the Basel Mission and Mission 21 is open to anyone with an interest in using it for research purposes. Researchers specialising in subjects such as history, ethnology, anthropology, mission studies, religious studies, geography, economics and linguistics can access our stock of archived materials (documents, historic images and maps) dating from the early 19th century onwards. In addition, our archive contains more recent materials from countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America where Mission 21 and its supporting associations have involvements, as well as the archive of the 'Missions-Handlungs-Gesellschaft', the trading company established by the Basel Mission.

    Some examples of what you can find in our research archive:

    Reports from areas of activity

    Example: Quarterly report from the Abokobi station (Ghana) dated 19 May 1879, written by Missionary Heinrich Bohner, reference D-1.31,45.

    Historic photographs dating from 1860 onwards

    Example: Street scene in Bombay, reference QQ-30.021.0022.

    Historic maps and plans

    Example: Map of Hong Kong dated 1905, reference 98602.

    Using the archive

    Consulting archived materials in the Reading Room

    The archive is available for research purposes. Please notify us of your planned visit to the archive well ahead of time. You must place orders for archived materials in advance by sending us an email. Please consult us for this purpose ► Archived materials can only be consulted in the Reading Room; they cannot be borrowed. An annual fee is charged for use of the archive.

    ► Regulations governing the use of the archives (PDF)

    Advisory service

    The archive staff are on hand to advise users and they are available to answer individual enquiries. A charge will be made for more complex or extensive advice, as per the schedule of fees.

    ► Schedule of fees (PDF)

    Written enquiries

    If you send us a written enquiry, you will receive a short reply: for example, we will tell you whether or not documents are available on a specific subject. A charge is payable for search orders (see the List of fees above). As a general rule, we are only able to carry out short searches.

    Online archive: bmarchives

    You can search our stock online at the bmarchives website. You will also find more than 30,000 images dating from the 1850-1945 period, and over 6,000 maps and plans from the archive, all in digital form.


    Please contact the archive ( for reproductions of archived materials (images, written materials, photographs of archived items which you yourself take in the Reading Room). Images that date back before 1900, and images that originate after 1900 and of which Mission 21 is holding the copyright can be delivered in digital form and high resolution. The fee is 60 Swiss Francs per image or 150 Swiss Francs in case redigitalisation is required.

    To order images in high resolution, please download our ► Order form 

    Criteria for the use of images

    Images must not be used for commercial purposes. The use of images in a racist or sexist context is strictly prohibited. No authorisations will be issued for use of high resolution images on websites or blogs. Images must not be changed. If only a section (detail) of the image is to be used, this must be stated. Correct citation of the images is required. Additional restrictions apply in connection with copyright.

    Opening hours

    Monday to Friday 9 am to 5 pm

    The number of places in the reading rooms is limited. Please book a place in advance.

    Please send us your reservation via ► Email

    [Translate to English:]

    Andrea Rhyn

    Tel.:+41 (0)61 260 22 42
    ► Email

    [Translate to English:]

    Patrick Moser

    Tel.:+41 (0)61 260 22 57
    ► Email

    "Friends of the Archives" Patronage Club

    Become a member of the Friends of the Archives Patronage Club and support the conservation and restoration of the stock of this unique research archive. As individual member, you can join for an annual contribution of as little as CHF 100! For CHF 300 our premium membership is available.

    As a member you will receive a newsletter with news from the archives once a year. As a premium member we invite you to an event in the archives once a year. On this occasion we will show you exclusive treasures from the archives’ holdings. If you are paying an annual donation of CHF 1,000 or more, you can request an exclusive guided tour once a year.

    For more information, go to:

    ► Friends of the Archives flyer (PDF)

    ► Register for membership of the Friends of the Archives (PDF)

    Annual event "Friends of the Archives" 2016

    Support from the Christoph Merian Foundation

    The Christoph Merian Foundation supports the archive of
    Mission 21 and contributes to the indexing of the documents of the Basel trading companies. Securing these important documents, dating back to 1859, is also a contribution to strengthening Basel as a research centre.


    One image - one story

    "One image – one story" is the title for a series of presentations in our begegnen periodical, each featuring a particularly meaningful image relating to a topic covered in that issue of the periodical. These articles offer excellent insights into the diverse content of our archive. Articles published to date:

    Situation plan

    To reach us from the SBB railway station, take bus no. 30 as far as the 'Spalentor' stop, and from there you can walk to us in a few minutes.