Protestant missionary children’s lives, c.1870–1950

Empire, religion and emotion

Hugh Morrison
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Missionary children were an important but relatively hidden part of the modern Protestant missionary movement. As ‘empire citizens’ their lives were shaped by both political and religious contexts or imperatives. This book brings to light the lives, experiences and feelings of a range of children born into British world missionary families. It develops new ground in two ways. First, it takes a comparative approach that includes children mainly from Britain (especially Scotland) and settler societies like New Zealand as well as the the United States of America. Second, it focuses on the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As such it offers a new contextual and relational model by which to understand their historical lives. It argues that three different perspectives need to be held in tension. These include the stories told by parents, institutions and the children. To do so it uses a combination of archival, published and oral history sources. Furthermore, it explores the ways in which missionary children were represented through popular literature and negotiated their way within spaces defined by imperialism and colonialism. It draws on scholarship from childhood and emotions history as a way of differentiating their lives further. From this comparative study, missionary children’s historical lives emerge as a complex mix of ordinary and complicated. Their lives were kaleidoscopic rather than monochrome. Children were both the authors of their own lives and the products of their unique contexts.

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