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REL 363: Missionary Impulse: Primary Sources

Primary Sources

Gustavus Adolphus College & Lutheran Church Archives
The College Archives consists of campus records, manuscript collections, student theses, college newspapers, yearbooks, and photographs are just some of the unique resources found in this collection. Many of the campus newspapers and photographs are digitized and available via the archives website. The Lutheran Church Archives houses records of largely Swedish-American church bodies in Minnesota, including photographs, congregational histories, biographical information and microfilmed church records.

CDRI: Digital Resources for the Study of Religion 
From the American Theological Library Association and Association of Theological Schools, the Cooperative Digital Resource Initiative (CDRI) provides access to a large set of high-quality digital resources for the study of religion. This impressive digital image collection features items as diverse as woodcuts, coins, maps, postcards, sermons, and other ephemera. Search for keywords, or browse the collections thematically.

Day Missions Library at Yale University 
The Day Missions Library houses a wealth of materials related to the missionary movement. Many primary documents have been digitized and are available online.

Library of Congress Digital Collections 
Access to print, pictorial and audio-visual collections and other digital services. Some collections of note are: American History and Culture, Historic Newspapers, Prints and Photographs, Veterans History Project, etc.

Minnesota Historical Society 
The Minnesota Historical Society has digitized a part of their collections, which include primary source documents related to mission work to the Native Americans.

Includes millions of records of resources in 400 languages owned by libraries around the world. Materials date back to the 11th century. Gustavus users may be able to borrow items they find in WorldCat searches via Interlibrary Loan (click the "Find It!" button). 


More and more archives are digitizing their materials, meaning you're able to conduct primary source research without having to travel to individual archives.  This opens up a whole host of information for you.  Even conducting a basic Google search for archival collections about missions or missionaries will give you access to primary sources.  While the resources on this page give you some additional suggestions for finding primary sources, you may also want to consult our Guide to Primary Sources.

"Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you always, to the end of the age.” – Jesus

This image shows the Kvinnornas Hem och Hedna Missions Förening (Women's Home and Heathen Missionary Society) in Rock Island, Illinois during 1893.


Shown in this image from about 1940 are missionaries to China and India. Those included are (seated – left to right) Mrs. Victor Swenson, Sister Ethel Larson, Mrs. A. N. Edwinds, Verna Lofgren; (standing – left to right) Mrs. C.P. Friberg, Sister Louelle Olson, Miss Hilma Levine, Sister Lily Larson, and Miss Esther Olson.

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