Free online access to the Library's mission archives

A 2021-2022 subscription holder

“I am using this resource and loving it. Thank you for this opportunity.”

We are delighted to announce the start of the second year of Cadbury Research Library Adam Matthew Digital Partnership Subscriptions. After an inspiring first round of applications, Adam Matthew has made available a further 12 free, individual subscriptions for Adam Matthew products that give online access to records and periodicals from the Church Mission Society Archive, dating back to 1799.

The subscriptions are for people who wish to explore written histories relating to their own local or national history and are not able to visit the Cadbury Research Library or access Adam Matthew products in any other way. We are particularly hoping to hear from people indigenous to the countries in which the Church Mission Society has been active over the last 200 years.

Church Mission Society Archive (CMS)

The Archive, previously under the title ‘Church Missionary Society Archive’, is one of the most extensive and popular collections held by the University of Birmingham.

Most of the Archive consists of records and publications arising from the work of CMS national office in the UK and thousands of items of correspondence from the society's overseas missions (CMS). There are also records of organisations that amalgamated with the CMS, including the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society (CEZMS), the Society for Promoting Female Education in the East (FES) and the Loochoo Naval Mission (L).

The records document the history of each organisation’s work and the activities, experiences and observations of the men and women recruited from the countries in which the societies were working, from the UK and Europe. There is much relating to indigenous peoples, historical events and the built and natural environment.

You can find out more about the CMS Archive and related collections through the Cadbury Research Library online catalogue and Guide to using the Archive (PDF).

The Cadbury Research Library holds the CMS Archive on behalf of the Church Mission Society (formerly ‘Church Missionary Society’).

The CMS Archive in Adam Matthew Digital collections


Adam Matthew has digitally published thousands of items from the Archive under two titles: ‘Research Source – Church Missionary Society Archive’ and ‘Church Missionary Society Periodicals’.

Both products provide a tremendous online resource for research into any part of the world where the organisations whose records are held as part of the CMS Archive have worked. They are particularly important for anyone interested in African countries, Canada, the Caribbean (West Indies), China, India, Japan and Palestine.

You can find out more about Research Source – Church Missionary Society Archive’ and 'Church Missionary Society Periodicals’ by following the links to the Adam Matthew website.

The Cadbury Research Library Adam Matthew Digital partnership

To use Adam Matthew Digital products, you usually need to be a member of an institution that has taken out a subscription or be visiting a subscribing institution. During the national lockdowns of 2020-2021, as soon as we asked for help, Adam Matthew responded to the needs of researchers who could neither visit the Cadbury Research Library because of Covid-19 related restrictions nor access online copies through a subscribing institution. They arranged short-term, free individual access to the Adam Matthew (AM) products for researchers who had no other means of viewing the CMS Archive or AM products. The response from people contacting our Enquiry service was overwhelmingly positive - a Covid silver lining for the Cadbury Research Library and our enquirers!

The success of this short-term solution to Covid-related travel and access restrictions, alongside news of the Adam Matthew partnership with the Royal Historical Society, planted the seed for the Cadbury Research Library Adam Matthew Digital Partnership Subscriptions.

We are very aware that, for some researchers, the restrictions we saw under lockdown are permanent. Of particular concern is that, for some people currently unable to access the collections, the CMS Archive holds unique records relating to the history of their own country or culture. The Cadbury Research Library welcomes many visitors from around the world but not everyone has the opportunity or ability to visit the Library in person, to purchase copies from our reprographics service or to benefit from an institutional subscription to Adam Matthew Digital. It is a privilege for the Cadbury Research Library to hold these records and our responsibility to find ways to share them as widely as possible so we are really delighted to be entering the second year of CRL AMD partnership subscriptions.

The subscriptions give 12 months of free access to 'Research Source – Church Missionary Society Archive' and 'Church Missionary Society Periodicals' to 12 people who want to access documentary sources relating to their own local area, country or culture and wish to use digitised copies of papers, periodicals and publications from the CMS Archive. 

Find out about eligibility criteria and how to apply.