Female education and the Liverpool Missionary Conference of 1860
in Missionaries and modernity
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In 1860, over 120 missionaries from various Protestant societies gathered together in Liverpool to discuss matters pertaining to missionary work in the British Empire. India was a primary focus of many of the discussions, including those on education, as the recent Indian Uprising of 1857 had prompted anxiety as to the stability of British rule in India. Missionary groups were quick to point out that no Christian Indians had joined in the violence and to assert that this was an indication both of the morally regulating effect provided by Christianity, and of the need for Christian religion to be taught in schools. At the Liverpool conference, the education of women was a major topic. Chapter 3 examines ideologies behind mission schooling for females in the third quarter of the nineteenth century through examining the Liverpool conference meetings and other writings by the Indian missionary Behari Lal Singh, who was the only non-European delegate at Liverpool. Singh was a strong advocate of female education, and after returning to India after the conference, he, with his teacher wife, established female orphan schools. Through reading Singh’s writings in the context of the Liverpool Missionary Conference and the broader role of women in missions of the period, the chapter particularly highlights the changing focus of some missionary groups to more explicitly include women in schooling, and in doing so demonstrates the central role which British and local women were ascribed in missionary modernity to facilitate the Christianisation of non-European societies.

Missionaries and modernity

Education in the British Empire, 1830–1910

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