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Gaitskell, Deborah Lyndall (1981) Female Mission Initiatives: Black and White Women in Three Witwatersrand Churches, 1903-1939. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis is a historical study of the religious initiatives taken by two groups of women - white missionaries and African Christians - in the Anglican, Methodist and American Board Mission Churches on the Witwatersrand, South Africa, before the Second World War. It begins by setting the women in context. The nineteenth century background of women and the church is considered first. Then the recruitment of the female missionaries who worked in Johannesburg is examined and the effects of their social origins and training are explored, In the broad characterisation of the African women of Johannesburg which follows, particular stress is laid on the three main spheres of employment open to them, namely domestic service, beer-brewing and laundry work. The second part of the thesis looks at the important prayer unions founded and run by black women, sometimes with missionary help. In all three missions, African women showed great enthusiasm for public prayer and revivalist preaching. Members were also anxious to preserve the premarital chastity of their daughters. Other common concerns were the wearing of uniforms, fund-raising and campaigning for total abstinence from liquor. The individual history of each church association is outlined first, then the emphases which united them are analysed and accounted for. The last part of the thesis concentrates on three particular areas where white female missionaries were active. They set up hostels for servants and provided housewifery training. Sunday schools and a Christian youth movement for girls were frequently under female supervision, Anglican women pioneered two 'settlement houses' in African townships. The class and racial tensions reflected in all three endeavours are highlighted. A brief epilogue sketches the fate of both types of female mission initiatives.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:21

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