Christian Brethren Archive

The Christian Brethren Archive is the world’s foremost collection relating to the Brethren Movement. The collection provides a rich resource for many disciplines including religion and theology, human geography, humanitarianism, culture, history, gender studies and postcolonialism.

This huge resource spans over 200 years from the origins of the Brethren in Ireland to date. It comprises hundreds of thousands of individual items in hundreds of sub collections - rare titles, pamphlets, periodicals, tracts, photographs and magic lantern slides. The archive contains some 7,000 manuscript items relating to individual Brethren and Brethren assemblies.

There are personal papers relating to personalities among the Brethren, such as founding members Joseph Nelson Darby (1800-82) and Benjamin Wills Newton (1807-99). Important organisations and events are also represented, for example the Devonshire Conferences of 1906 and 1907 (which discussed the terms of fellowship between gatherings of Open and Exclusive Brethren), the Christian Brethren Research Fellowship for 1962–81, and the Swanwick conferences of the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s.

The archive holds the missionary records of Echoes of Service (est. 1872), as well as papers relating to the missionary activities of Handley Bird (1865-1938) and William Thompson (b. 1921) in India, and Caroline Gates (1866-1947) and Geoffrey Bull (1921-99) in China; as well as the itinerant preaching in Canada and North America of Leonard Sheldrake (1885-1952).

The archive provide a fascinating insight into the diversity of Brethren holdings and demonstrates the invaluable, accessible and ever-expanding nature of the collection both for researchers and for Brethren members.

Please contact uml.special-collections@manchester.ac.uk