MUNDUS Gateway to Missionary Collections in the UK
SOAS Library is pleased to announce the launch of the Mundus Gateway, the on-line guide to missionary-related resources in the UK. Since the early eighteenth century missionaries have set out from Britain to evangelize the world. In so doing they have created or collected a wealth of documentation, including archives, personal papers, printed books and pamphlets, photographs, films, sound recordings and artefacts. The materials document the encounter between western missionaries and the peoples and terrain of Africa, Asia, the Pacific Islands and the Americas over a two-hundred-year period and are increasingly being used and appreciated by researchers from a broad range of academic disciplines. However, missionary collections are widely dispersed and difficult to locate. For the first time descriptions of these scattered resources have been brought together in a unified electronic guide.
What does the Mundus Gateway contain?
The Mundus database contains summary descriptions of more than 400 collections held in over 50 institutions in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Each description provides content and contextual information, and details of finding aids and of access conditions. The database can be accessed in a number of ways: free-text searching, browsing by name, place and subject indexes and using a clickable map. There are links to missionary-related on-line resources and other useful web sites in the British Isles and the wider world while the Mundus Gallery provides a sample of the extensive range of visual materials to be found in many missionary collections.
Who should use the Mundus Gateway?
Missionary collections comprise research materials of global significance, unique in their range of subject matter and form. Researchers with disciplinary backgrounds in the arts, humanities and sciences as well as missiologists and church historians will find written, printed, oral and visual resources which illuminate such topics as race, class, gender, religion, cross-cultural relations, art, education, medicine, languages and literature, as well as less-expected ones such as climatology, transport and genetics. The Mundus guide also aims to assist in the planning of research visits since full location and access details for each holding institution are supplied.
How was the Mundus Gateway created?
The Gateway is the culmination of the three-year RSLP funded Mundus Project, to improve access to missionary collections held in a wide variety of institutions throughout the UK. It was compiled by project staff at the School of Oriental and African Studies with technical assistance from staff at the University of London Computer Centre and in consultation with partners at the Universities of Birmingham, Cambridge, Edinburgh and Oxford. In addition to the Gateway the Mundus project has achieved the cataloguing of 90 previously unlisted archival collections and some 40,000 photographs. On-line catalogues have been created to a number of major archives and to some 15,000 printed books. Measures have also been taken to improve the physical storage of fragile materials and to conserve badly affected documents. The Mundus Gateway will continue to be maintained and updated at the School of Oriental and African Studies under the direction of the Archivist, Rosemary Seton.
Comments and feedback to the email address below.
The Library, Special Collections Reading Room
School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square
London WC1H OXG, United Kingdom
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