C. B. Thomas diary of missionary work in Burma
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Overview and metadata sections
Charlotte Wight Batcheller was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in September 1829. On September 7, 1850, she married Benjamin Calley Thomas, a Baptist clergyman. Later that year, the couple traveled to Burma and established a station for missionary work to the Karen people in Hinthada. The Thomases traveled back to the United States in 1868, but Benjamin died shortly after their arrival. Charlotte Batcheller Thomas remained in the United States for several years to care for her son, Willis Frye Thomas, but the family returned to Burma in 1874. For the next several decades, she engaged in mission work among the Karen, Chin, and Burman people. Her journal records her travels over several months in 1883 to Rangoon (Yangon), Prome (Pyay), Sandoway (Thandwe), Aykab (Sittwe), and Bassein (Pathein). Thomas died in Burma in 1895.
Pierce, Frederick Clifton. Batchelder, Batcheller Genealogy : Descendants of Rev. Stephen Bachiler, of England : A leading non-conformist, who settled the town of New Hampton, New Hampshire and Joseph, Henry, Joshua and John Batcheller of Essex Co., Massachusetts. Chicago: W.B. Con Key Company, 1898. The Baptist Missionary Magazine. Vol. 55, No. 7 (July, 1875)Thomas, C.B. “Mission Work Among the Khyens.” Friends’ Review: A Religious, Literary and Miscellaneous Journal. Vol. 36, No. 40 (May 12, 1883) The Baptist Missionary Magazine. Vol. 68, No. 5 (May, 1888)The Baptist Missionary Magazine. Vol. 68, No. 7 (July, 1888)The Baptist Missionary Magazine. Vol. 80, No. 1 (January, 1900) Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988, Boston, 1850 (accessed via Ancestry.com on May 1, 2017)Information derived from the collection.
This manuscript contains the travel diary of C.B. Thomas, a Baptist missionary in Burma, kept between January 24 and May 7, 1883.
Thomas traveled extensively while keeping her journal, visiting to Rangoon (Yangon), Prome (Pyay), Sandoway (Thandwe), Aykab (Sittwe), Bassein (Pathein), and various smaller villages. She preached to different ethnic groups, including the Karen, Chin, and Burman people, and attempted to set up schools to teach reading and writing in local dialects. She often distributed religious tracts and portions of the Bible and sometimes installed local converts as ministers and teachers. Thomas noted that she had visited many of these areas before on previous journeys. On February 1, she encountered a Karen woman she had first met in December 1851 when she was traveling with her husband. In addition to visiting remote villages, Thomas also attended Baptist meetings in larger cities to help ordain preachers and baptize new converts.
Thomas described most inhabitants she encountered as open to hearing the Christian Gospel or even anxious to receive Christian literature and instruction. She was pleased when one Burman village appeared to be “waking up from the lethargy of Buddhism.” However, not everyone was interested in conversion. One Christian man found that his wife and children refused to live with him after his conversion. When Thomas tried to persuade the woman to return home, she told Thomas “his preaching is harder to bear than the beatings he used to give her when he was drunk in his heathen days.” Thomas also described a group of “half-drunken” Chins and Burmans as “very annoying” when one man said he would convert to Christianity if she paid his debt of seventy rupees.
This manuscript consists of a typed title page that reads “Diary of travels in Burma/by/C.B. Thomas” and 24 unbound, mimeographed leaves of a handwritten diary.
Item 0074: Shelved in SPEC MSS 0097
Processed and encoded by Elizabeth Jones-Minsinger, July 2017.
- Karen (Southeast Asian people)--Missions
- Chin (Southeast Asian people)
- Women travelers--19th century
- Travelers' writings, American--19th century
- University of Delaware Library Special Collections
- Finding Aid Author
- University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
- Finding Aid Date
- 2017 July 10
- Access Restrictions
The collection is open for research.
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