Skip to Main Content

Native American Resources in the Manuscript Division

Missions and Missionaries

Unattributed. Kah-ge-ga-gah-bowh - George Copway. ca. 1860. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

The Manuscript Division holds the papers of a multitude of individual missionaries and missionary organizations, documenting the long history of Christian evangelization in North America and the indoctrination to the Christian religion through Euro-American education of Native American populations. European colonial powers from Britain to Spain to Russia made missionaries a key part of their colonization efforts, and missionaries were often the first Europeans to record ethnographic and linguistic information about Native societies. As such, the collections described below overlap significantly with those described under the "European Colonial Administration" and "Native Cultures" pages.

Among the division's missionary collections are the papers of Kah-ge-ga-gah-Bowh, or George Copway, a Mississauga Ojibwe writer and Methodist missionary (pictured on the right). This small collection documents Copway's efforts to garner support with the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs for Native education and welfare. In contrast to Copway's relatively small collection, the microfilm edition of the Presbyterian Historical Society collection of missionaries' letters is a sprawling collection of nearly 14,000 letters from Presbyterian missions, covering dozens of Native groups from Florida to Oregon.

A significant number of the collections listed here are microfilm copies of missionary collections in other institutions. The location of the original collection is listed in the description when appropriate.

Tip: Search collection names in the community name index for a fuller list of specific communities mentioned in each collection.


The following collection titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online content, including finding aids for the collections, are included when available.