The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

 
 
 
Missionary Leaves Association

Missionary Leaves Association


The Missionary Leaves Association was an independent charity founded in 1869 with the purpose of supporting the work of the far larger Church Missionary Society in its various evangelical projects around the world. The Association provided supplementary but still necessary objects such as harmoniums, magic lanterns, church bells and the like directly to missions as far-flung as Canada, West Africa, India and Japan. In addition, a network of ‘receivers’ around the United Kingdom collected books, toys, used clothes, etc. which were then sold at fundraising events. Donors could also sponsor a specific project in one of the CMS’s many fields of operation, or even a specific convert.

The Association published a monthly magazine that during the 1880s had a circulation figure of approximately 1300 copies per month. This publication primarily contained letters from CMS missionaries around the world in which they gave accounts of their work and news of their converts. The magazine also contained names of contributors and their donations, advertisements for related products and lists of the numerous photographs available via mail order. At a Committee meeting on 7 February 1879, it was reported that ‘The Photograph Account showed a total sale during the [previous] year of 980 photographs, yielding a profit of £20 8s 7d.’

The woman in this particular photograph has so far not been identified. She is possibly Mrs Dandeson Coates Crowther, daughter-in-law of Bishop Samuel Crowther, but this has yet to be confirmed. Whoever she was, the subtext of the photograph is clear. To an audience that imagined a binary distinction between white European civilization and black African savagery, the woman’s demure dress, neat hair and gentle expression would have been read as evidence of the efficacy of the Association’s work and a plea for their continued financial support.

Photographed by Sydney Victor White and Edward E. White of Reading and sold by the Missionary Leaves Association.

According to the backplate, 'Orders for this photograph to be addressed to the Secretary, H.G. Malaher Esq, 13 Baker Street, Reading.'
 

Code: 122001
 
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© Paul Frecker 2018