Order with this ReferenceMMS/Special Series/Biographical/Central Africa/FBN 13 (fiche 532-) & 14 (fiche 571-610); also boxes 611B & 611C.
Ref NoMMS/17/02/05/02
TitleRev Edwin William Smith
Date(s) of Creation1877-1949
Level of DescriptionSub-Sub-Series
Extent6 boxes
Name of CreatorSmith; Edwin William (1876-1957); missionary; anthropologist and linguist
Smith; John (1840-1915); ordained missionary
Administrative & Biographical HistoryBorn at Aliwal North, Cape Colony [South Africa], 7th September 1876; son of the Rev John Smith (1840-1915) and his second wife Fanny Jeary (married 1874), Primitive Methodist missionaries; studied at Elmfield College, York; accepted for the ministry, 1897; Primitive Methodist missionary in Basutoland [Lesotho], South Africa, 1898-1889; Aliwal North 1899-1902; married Julia Anne (née Fitch), 3rd October 1899; joined the mission to the Baila-Batonga in northern Rhodesia [Zambia], 1902; at Nanzela [Zambia], 1902-1907; at Mexborough, Yorkshire, 1908-1909; pioneered the mission at Kasenga [Zambia], 1909-1915; reduced the Ila language to written form, made a grammar and dictionary, and translated most of the New Testament; returned to England, 1915; military chaplain in France, 1915-1916; seconded to the British and Foreign Bible Society, 1916-1939; initially its secretary in Rome, Italy; later at the Society's headquarters giving editorial supervision to Scripture translations in many languages; editorial superintendent, 1933-1939; a prominent anthropologist and pioneer of the study of indigenous African religious beliefs; founder member of the International Institute of African Languages and Cultures (later the International African Institute), 1926; President of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, 1933-1935; retired from the church, 1939; taught in north America, at the Kennedy School of Missions, Hartford Seminary, and at Fisk University, 1939-1944; editor of Africa, journal of the International Institute of African Languages and Cultures, 1945-1948; honorary Doctor of Divinity from University of Winnipeg, c1937; honorary Doctor of Divinity, University of Toronto, 1942; died at Deal, Kent, 23rd December 1957.

Further Reading (selective):
Smith, E W, A handbook of the Ila language (commonly called the Seshukulumbwe), spoken in north-western Rhodesia, south-central Africa : comprising grammar, exercises, specimens of Ila tables, and vocabularies (1907);
Smith, E W, and Dale, Capt A M, The Ila-speaking peoples of northern Rhodesia (1920);
Smith, E W, The religion of lower races : as illustrated by the African Bantu (1923);
Smith, E W, The Christian mission in Africa : a study based on the work of the international Conference at le Zoute, Belgium, September 14th to 21st, 1926;
Smith, E W, The golden stool : some aspects of the conflict of cultures in modern Africa (1927);
Smith, E W, The way of the white fields in Rhodesia : a survey of Christian enterprise in Northern and Southern Rhodesia (1928);
Smith, E W, The secret of the African (1929);
Smith, E W, Exploration in Africa (1929);
Smith, E W, The shrine of a people's soul (1929);
Smith, E W, African beliefs and Christian faith : an introduction to theology for African students, evangelists and pastors (1936);
Smith, E W, The Mabilles of Basutoland (1939);
Smith, E W, Knowing the African (1946);
Smith, E W, The blessed missionaries : being the Phelps-Stokes Lectures delivered in Cape Town in 1949 (1950);
Smith, E W, Great lion of Bechuanaland : the life and times of Roger Price, missionary (1957);
Smith, J A, Sunshine and shade in central Africa (1907);
Young, W John, The quiet wise spirit : Edwin W. Smith, 1876-1957, and Africa (2002);
Young, W John, They Have Laid Hold of Some Essential Truths: Edwin W. Smith (1876-1957), A Wise Listener to African Voices (2004).
Held at:SOAS University of London
Custodial HistoryThe papers were deposited with the Methodist Missionary Society and form part of the special series of biographical papers of individual missionaries, including an additional deposit (MMS Boxes 611B-C) made by Smith's grandson, Richard Howard-Jones, in 1997.
DescriptionPapers, 1877-1949, of Edwin W Smith, comprising Smith's typescript and manuscript translations from religious texts into the Ila language, 1905-c1915, manuscript account of Ila, 1902, and manuscript account of Primitive Methodist missions in Africa, c1929; Smith's general official correspondence files, 1901-1914, the subjects including mission activities and finance; press cuttings, notes, and manuscript by Smith on the Baila-Batonga mission [Zambia], 1890s-1910s; press cuttings on African, missionary, and Methodist affairs, 1897-1907, Smith's journal, 1898-1901, notes, typescripts and printed material, 1877-1924 and undated, by Smith and others on Ila and missionary work, and two manuscripts in Afrikaans, 1877 and undated; copy letters of the Rev John Smith, 1885-1886; undated photographs of misionary work in Aliwal North [South Africa], Basutoland [Lesotho], Nanzela and Kasenga missions [both Zambia]; a letter from Smith in Aliwal North [South Africa] to his mother, 1900; diary concerning Smith's journey to Kasenga [Zambia], 1909; Smith's diaries and journals recording his travels in North, Central & Southern Africa, Middle East and North America, 1929-1949.
System of ArrangementBox listed
Access StatusTemporarily Closed
Conditions Governing AccessSome material only consultable on microfiche.
CopyrightCopyright held by the Smith family and the Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes
Language(s) of MaterialEnglish
Related MaterialAlso within the records of the (Wesleyan) Methodist Missionary Society is the official correspondence of the Primitive Methodist Missionary Society. Correspondence involving Smith, largely comprising letters from Smith relating to his time as a missionary in Africa, 1898-1924, are available (MMS/PMMS/Correspondence/South & Central Africa/FBN 16-17) - see handlist. Reports written by Smith may also be extant within (MMS/PMMS/Reports/Quarterly/FBN 3-4). Smith's annotated bible, including brief information on sermons preached, is also avaiable (MMSL MSS 066).
Access Points - SubjectAfrican cultures
African languages
Bantu languages
Ethnic groups
Mission administration
Mission policy
Missionary work
Primitive Methodism
Primitive methodists
Travel abroad
Indigenous populations
Access Points - Person, Corporate & Family Names
Name CodePerson, Corporate or Family NameType of Entity
GB/NNAF/P158395Smith; Edwin William (1876-1957); ordained missionary, mission administrator, academic, anthropologist and linguistPerson
GB/SOASNAF/P466Smith; John (1840-1915); ordained missionaryPerson
Access Points - Places
Place CodePlace Name
1023309Aliwal North
7729886Central Africa
7729889Eastern Africa
6269133Middle East
7729887Northern Africa
6255149North America
9406051Southern Africa
6254930Palestinian Territory
1085593Eastern Cape
953987South Africa
6252001United States
901579Nanzhila Mission
2635167United Kingdom
    Powered by CalmView© 2008-2022