|Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary|
At a Glance
This collection is organized in one series arranged by material type.
Scope and Contents
This collection contains records of the Ecumenical Conference on Foreign Missions including minutes, reports, presented essays, and related administrative records. The bulk of the collection consists of stenographic reports from general and sectional meetings from April 23 through the end of the Conference on May 1, as well as copies of essays and reports that were presented during sectional meetings. The stenographic reports are transcriptions that document the entirety of the Conference's meetings and sessions with the exception of papers that were presented. These conference papers are separate from the stenographic reports and include both original and photocopied versions of essays presented at the Conference. The collection also includes the Conference programme, a register documenting attendees, and an oversize negative photographic copy of a special issue of the New York Tribune, May 2, 1900.
Burke Library record group:
Missionary Research Library Archives: MRL12, Ecumenical/World Mission
Using the Collection
Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Some material in this collection may be protected by copyright and other rights. Information concerning copyright, fair use, and reproduction requests can be consulted at Columbia's Copyright Advisory Office.
Item description, MRL 12: Ecumenical Conference on Foreign Missions records, 1900, box #, folder #, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York.
MRL 12: Foreign Missions Conference of North America Records, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York.
MRL 12: International Missionary Council Records, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York.
Records of the Ecumenical Conference on Foreign Missions (HR 1511), Special Collections, Yale Divinity School Library.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Formerly part of the independent Missionary Research Library (MRL), these records were accessioned by the Burke Library at the time of the MRL's closure in 1976.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary
Some material was cataloged by Lynn A. Grove on 1988-08-03. An attempt was made to maintain the original order of the collection as it was received by the Burke Library Archives. At this time, the records from April 21-April 22 and conference papers from April 26, 27, and 29 are missing. Metal clips and staples were removed from materials and folded items were flattened. Materials were placed in new acid-free folders and boxes. Individual papers and reports were separated from one another by interleaving with acid-free paper as needed. Any items in an advanced state of deterioration were placed in Mylar envelopes. Preservation photocopies have been made for newsprint and material that was pinned together. The conference register was wrapped in acid-free tissue and tied with cotton tying tape. The finding aid was created by Virginia Pastor and Brigette Kamsler in 2015 with the support of the Henry Luce Foundation, and edited by Leah Edelman in 2022.
2022-04-26 PDF converted to EAD and description updated by Leah Edelman.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
The Ecumenical Conference on Foreign Missions was held in Carnegie Hall and several other local churches in New York City from April 21 to May 1, 1900. The Conference developed out of a growing sense that the responsibility for grappling with the problems related to the world's evangelization should not be placed wholly upon administrative boards and missionaries but on the Church as a whole. Thus, the Conference sought to amass the "united thought of Christendom" by convening thoughtful Christian men and women from all over the world who had been engaged in the study of such problems, so that they might relate their findings to the world-wide missionary movement. Inspiration for the Conference was drawn from the work of the Foreign Missions Conference of North America (FMCNA) and the International Missionary Council (IMC), as well as two previous gatherings that had taken place in London: the 1878 Conference on Foreign Missions and the Centenary Missions Conference held a decade later in 1888. During a 1896 meeting of the FMCNA, Rev. F. F. Eillinwood expressed his "hope that in the year 1898, ten years from the great London Conference, we might invite our brethren from all lands to a great Ecumenical Conference on Missions." In response to this suggestion, a committee of five was appointed to begin the work of convening such a conference. For this task, Ellinwood was joined by Judson Smith, A. B. Leonard, S. W. Duncan, and William S. Langford. Although only Protestant denominations were represented at the Conference, Rev. William R. Huntington of Grace Church in New York assured that it was to be considered 'ecumenical' "not because all portions of the Christian Church are to be represented in it by delegates, but because the plan of campaign which it proposes covers the whole area of the inhabited globe." President William McKinley presided over the Conference's opening ceremonies, and participants included former president Benjamin Harrison, New York Governor Theodore Roosevelt, and Seth Low, president of Columbia University. Official delegates were numbered at 2,500 (including more than 600 foreign missionaries from fifty countries), and total attendance at the Conference was estimated to have been between 160,000 and 200,000, making it the largest sustained formal religious event in the history of the United States, and the largest international missionary conference ever. Over 500 addresses were given on a variety of topics during the 10-day conference including: "the missionary idea" – asserting the claims of the Great Commission; the economics of missions and the organization, location, and strength of stations; departments of work – literary, evangelistic, medical, educational, industrial, women's work, and special classes; home administration and means of enlisting the Church; and geographical surveys of the missionary efforts and current conditions in various parts of the world. Particular emphasis was given to the increasing number of female missionaries, and a variety of sessions were planned under the heading of "Women's Work" including: evangelism, education, giving, medicine, and literature. Additionally, April 26 was designated as "Woman's Day," which included reports from Women's Work sectional meetings that had already taken place at the Conference, as well as a Mass Meeting for the female delegates at Carnegie Hall. Though there was some discussion concerning a higher level of collaboration among missionary societies, with an unofficial post-Conference recommendation for a permanent international committee, nothing official was resolved at the 1900 Conference. However, the issues raised in 1900 returned in 1910, along with at least 125 delegates from New York's Ecumenical Conference of Foreign Missions, at the World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland.