Edwin W. Smith

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The Reverend Edwin William Smith (1876–1957) was a Primitive Methodist missionary/anthropologist and author who was born in South Africa, studied at Elmfield College, and then worked in Africa..

He was born at Aliwal North, South Africa, on 7 September 1876. His parents were missionaries of the Primitive Methodist Connexion. His father, John Smith (1840–1915), went to Aliwal North in 1874 and spent ten of the next fourteen years there. Returning to London, he became secretary of the Primitive Methodist Missionary Society in the 1890s and president of the Primitive Methodist Conference in 1898.

Edwin Smith has been called the father of African Studies.[citation needed]

In 1899 he married Julia, daughter of James Fitch of Peasenhall, Suffolk. He served in Africa as a missionary of the Primitive Methodist Church, 1898-1915.

Major works[edit]

(selected from thirty-five titles)

  • 1907 Handbook of the Ila Language. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.
  • 1915 Ila New Testament (trans.). London: British and Foreign Bible Society.
  • 1920 (with A. M. Dale). The Ila-Speaking Peoples of Northern Rhodesia. London: Macmillan.
  • 1923 The Religion of Lower Races. New York: Macmillan.
  • 1926 The Christian Mission in Africa. London: International Missionary Council.
  • 1926 The Golden Stool. London: Holborn Publishing House.
  • 1929 Aggrey of Africa. London: Student Christian Movement.
  • 1929 The Secret of the African. London: Student Christian Movement.
  • 1929 The Shrine of a People's Soul. London: Church Missionary Society.
  • 1936 African Beliefs and Christian Faith. London: Lutterworth Press.
  • The Mabilles of Basutoland. Hodder and Stoughton, 1939
  • The secret of the African. United Society for Christian, 1943 (Seven lectures delivered as "Long lectures" in 1927-28, at the invitation of the Church Missionary Society.)
  • African beliefs and Christian faith. United Society for Christian, 1943
  • Knowing the African. United Society for Christian, 1946
  • The life and times of Daniel Lindley 1801-80. The Epworth Press 1949
  • The Blessed Missionaries: Being the Phelps-Stokes Lectures delivered in Cape Town in 1949; with foreword by Sir Herbert Stanl. Kapstadt: Oxford U.P, 1950
  • African Ideas of God. London: Edinburgh House Press.
  • Great Lion of Bechuanaland: the Life and Times of Roger Price, Missionary and Statesman, London 1957

Archival materials on Smith are to be found in three locations:

  • (1) The Methodist Missionary Society Archives, the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. These items include diaries, translation work, journalistic material, photograph albums, and some unpublished material.
  • (2) Bible Society Archives, Cambridge, England. These items include diaries and reports for India, 1938–39, correspondence, and drafts of John 1-6 in Basic and Simplified English.
  • (3) In the Hartford Seminary Archives, Hartford, Connecticut.

Works About Edwin W. Smith[edit]

  • McVeigh, M. God in Africa: Conceptions of God in African Traditional Religion and Christianity. Cape Cod, Mass.: Claude Starke, 1974.
  • Peel, J. D. Y. "Edwin Williams Smith." In Dictionary of National Biography, Missing Persons. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1993.
  • Young, W. John. "Edwin Smith: Pioneer Explorer in African Christian Theology." Epworth Review, 1993, pp. 80–88.
  • -----."The Integrative Vision of a Pioneer Africanist, Edwin W. Smith (1876-1957)." M.A. thesis, Univ. of Bristol, July 1997.

See also[edit]