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The Missionary Herald

Date: 1826
Overall: 227 x 142 x 32 mm, 599.74 g
Medium: Paper, ink, calf bound boards, gilt
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Books and journals
Object Name: Book
Object No: 00046020
Place Manufactured:Boston

User Terms

    The Missionary Herald was the published voice of The American Board for the Commissioners of Foreign Missions. The Herald was established in 1821 and remained in circulation up until the early 1950s. It reported on missionary activities in the Pacific as seen through the zealous eyes of the missionaries. It had many detractors who accused it of being biased to an extreme - reporting in such a manner as to wring additional funds from well meaning Christians in America and Europe.

    This volume of the Herald issued in January 1826 features dozens of articles on Hawaiian and Pacific interests, and includes a folding frontispiece map of the island of Hawaii.
    SignificanceThis book is an important record of the immense influence of Christian missionaries upon indigenous peoples of the Pacific in the 19th and 20th centuries. Although most missionaries were well intentioned, their quest for saving souls was often based around a desire to convert as many indigenous people to their version of a Christian god. By teaching Pacific Islanders European languages such as English and French, the work of the missionaries paved the way for merchants and traders who exploited the region for sandalwood, pearl, beche de mer, whale products and later, forced labour.
    HistoryHeavily influenced by the Pacific voyages of Cook and other European explorers and the published accounts of sailors, scientists and gentlemen explorers such as Joseph Banks, European missionary activity commenced in the South Seas in 1774 with the arrival of two Franciscan friars in Tahiti. The friars' attempts to evangelise the Tahitians failed and they returned to Lima (Peru) in 1775.

    The Pacific Islanders saw no other missionaries for the next 22 years until the arrival of missionaries from the London Missionary Society (LMS) on board the missionary vessel DUFF in March 1797. Although the first contacts - aided by King Pomare I - were hopeful, the Tahitians quickly disregarded these new arrivals whose behaviour was so different from that of the Europeans they had met before and the LMS struggled to gain converts.

    The origins of the American Board for the Commissioners of Foreign Missions (ABCFM), the London Missionary Society (LMS) and other lesser known missionary societies lie in the late 18th century revival of Protestant Evangelism and the development of the Congregationalist movement in England and the United States of America.

    The ABCFM began informally with the 1806 'Haystack Prayer Meeting' of a group of Congregational ministers and students at Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts. After graduating from Williams, several of the students enrolled at Andover Theological Seminary. In 1810 Samuel Mills, one of the students spoke with the General Association of Congregational Ministers of Massachusetts about missionary work in India and with Native Americans in the western United States.

    Commissioners were appointed to look into the matter, a method of operation common at that time. The Board was officially chartered on 20 June, 1812 in the Commonwealth of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. As stated in its original Constitution, the Board's purpose was to 'devise, adopt, and prosecute, ways and means for propagating the gospel among those who are destitute of the knowledge of Christianity'.

    The first missionaries of the American Board sailed for Calcutta in 1812. Missions opened in Sri Lanka in 1816, in Madura in 1834, and in Madras in 1836. The Board's first missions in Turkey were established in 1819, in Greece and China in 1830, and in Africa in 1834. Hiram Bingham Snr (1789-1869) and his wife and fellow missionary Sybil Moseley (1792 - 1848) were sent by the American Board of Missions to found the first Protestant mission in the Hawaiian and Gilbert Islands. Bingham (1789 - 1869) adapted the Hawaiian language to writing, published Elementary Lessons in Hawaiian (1822) and with his associates translated the bible into Hawaiian.

    The ABCFM were ardent and strident believers in God's work. They firmly believed that 'missions are instituted for the spread of scriptural self-propagating Christianity' and that all religious work, including translating the bible, building schools and hospitals, and establishing the press should be directed to building a mature local church which then evangelized and sent out other missionaries to convert the non-believers. In contrast to other missionaries at the time they believed that 'civilisation was not a legitimate aim of the missionary but would only come as an impact of the gospel'.

    In 1961 the American Board merged to form the United Church Board for World Missions (UCBWM) which in 2000 evolved into Wider Church Ministries of the United Church of Christ. It continues to be involved in missions around the world in partnership with the Division of Overseas Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

    In its first fifty years, the ABCFM sent out more than 1,250 missionaries. Most were from the small, conservative towns and villages of New England. Few of the missionaries were affluent, but most had trained in colleges where they received a classical education, which included Hebrew, Latin, and Greek.

    To publicise their work, raise funds and influence business and political leaders the missionaries published reports of their work in a series of publications including The Panoplist; or, The Christian Armory (1805-1808), The Panoplist and Missionary Magazine (1808-1817), The Panoplist and Missionary Herald (1818-1820) and from 1821 The Missionary Herald.

    For many Christians in America, The Missionary Herald was their window to the world. Descriptions of native customs, history, economic activities, and geographical features were included, along with accounts of the influence of the Gospel. In the years before radio, movies, TV, or rapid communications, such missionary reports became primary sources for many Americans of information about foreign lands. The Missionary Herald dominated American missionary publications and continued in circulation in America until the early 1950s when it became The Missionary Herald at Home and Abroad.

    Additional Titles

    Primary title: The Missionary Herald, Vol XXII, 1826

    Web title: The Missionary Herald

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