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Title: 'Them women be best man for missions' : women and missions in nineteenth-century British West Africa
Author: Jolliffe, Clive
ISNI:       0000 0004 2667 1275
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2003
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Africa occupies a special place within missionary history. It was seen in the nineteenth century as the dark continent which needed to be saved and missionaries set out to do this. The thesis shows how women were essential to this effort. It was not just the wives, widows and single female missionaries who worked overseas who were vital for missionary work but also essential were those women who worked at home to provide the support necessary for missionary enterprise. The West African women whom the missionaries believed they came to save were also an important aspect of missionary work. The thesis looks at how all these women came together in the missionary effort in British West Africa from the beginning of the 19th century to the end of W.W.I., placing them in the context of contemporary society. The work of five major missionary societies is looked at in the four countries which eventually comprised British West Africa. Missionary work was one of the few areas in the 19th century which women could appropriate. It was not just overseas that they could do this. In Britain they were able to control and run large organisations which provided opportunities for women to show what they could do given the opportunity. The Women's Auxiliary of the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society was one such organisation and is examined in the thesis, as is the training and recruitment of female candidates. In West Africa wives, widows and single female agents all made their own important contributions to the missionary work. They developed a wide range of skills, especially in working with local women and children. This thesis examines the ways in which they did this and also what they were not able to do. The missionary heroine was an important part of the promotion of the missionary cause and her role is looked at and compared with the depiction of missionary women in 19th century fiction. The missionaries came to change society in West Africa and local women were not exempted. Missionaries brought with them ideas about polygyny and domestic slavery which affected women particularly. What this meant for African women and how they responded is a particular feature of the thesis.
Supervisor: Bolt, Christine Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: D History General and Old World