News from the BFSS Archive


Mission House, Mangaia - Rev William Wyatt Gill 's house

Mission House, Mangaia – Rev William Wyatt Gill ‘s house

Today’s interesting find was a letter sent to the British & Foreign School Society in London from Mangaia in the Cook Islands in 1869.

“Letter to BFSS from William Wyatt Gill, Mangaia, South Pacific.  Thanks the BFSS for school materials it sent to his school, which were brought out on the ship the John Williams III. 1/8/1869”.

Mangaia is the most southerly of the Cook Islands and the second largest.  Its 21st C population is about 750 people.  It’s amazing to think that the BFSS was in contact with such a remote place nearly 150 years ago!    The letter thanks the BFSS for the school supplies it had sent out there, in particular the world map, and describes the difficulty of trying to teach world geography to children without the help of visual aids.

The John Williams

The John Williams

The ship the John William III belonged to the London Missionary Society. It was also used by the British and Foreign BIBLE Society to despatch bibles around the world.

The BFSS Archive is managed by Brunel University Archives.  Its former teacher training college, Borough Road College, became Brunel’s Osterley campus in 1997.   The BFSS Foreign Correspondence comprises the hundreds of 19th C letters sent to and from the BFSS in the administration of its foreign aid.   Thanks to the Archivist, Phaedra Casey, for her work in cataloguing this correspondence.