The Jonathan Edwards Centre is committed to sustainable and international research projects ranging from individual dissertations to interdisciplinary and international studies, such as Jonathan Edwards and Arminianism (individual project), The Influence of Jonathan Edwards in African missions (multi-year project), and research cooperation with the Morija Museum and Archives, Morija, Lesotho

The Morija Archives hosts a unique collection assembled by missionnaries since late 19th century, that forms part of the unique history of the Basotho nation. It covers colonial records, missionnary registers, ancient newspapers, and valuable material in French as well as German and many African languages including of course Sesotho.

The Morija Archives host a unique collection of 19th century documents, consolidated by the first missionary to Masitise, Rev DF Ellenberger (1835-1920). This valuable collection was preserved and greatly augmented over the past century, most notably by Rev Albert Brutsch (1916-2000) who was responsible for the archives from the mid-1950s until 1999. The Archives include not only the archives of the Lesotho Evangelical Church (LEC), which was previously known as the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society (PEMS), but also thousands of rare books on Lesotho and Southern Africa, journals and newspaper collections, government publications, academic theses, grey literature, maps, photographs, and other valuable documentation.

The Morija Archives contain tens of thousands of documents which are currently being catalogued. With time, the most important items will be digitised and placed online to facilitate research.

The Archives holds material which helps researchers understand more fully the unique history of the Basotho nation. This treasure includes colonial records such as Blue books, government gazettes, governmental reports, a wide range of missionary correspondence, church registers, and the first newspaper in Lesotho from 1863 to date, called Leselinyana. There is also a wide collection of material in French, the most valuable being Journal des Missions Evangeliques, and a few books in German. A Linguistic section contains material in many other African languages as well as a large collection of books written in the local official language, Sesotho. There are hundreds of photographs, maps, and monographs, dealing with Lesotho and mission work in general. The history of education, a fine collection of music including the first hymnals in the Sesotho laguage, Lifela tsa Sione, and many of the published works of the most renowned Basotho composers of choral music, such as JP Mohapeloa and others. (Source acknowledgment)

Digitisation of the Archives Project

The Morija Archives contain documents dating from as far back as the 18th century (early books regarding Southern Africa), but those with specific reference to Lesotho begin with the arrival of the French Protestant missionaries in 1833. Many of these are primary source material. One of the most important resources housed here is the newspaper Leselinyana (primarily written in Sesotho) dating from its first issue in 1863 to the present. It is without doubt the most valuable single source of information on a wide range of subjects with regard to Lesotho/the Basotho, at least for the period up to the 1950s.

In order to protect this fragile printed material as well as manuscripts, a proposal has been made to different potential partners to undertake certain preservation measures concerning these documents, especially their digitisation, which would also make these available online to a much wider range of researchers and academics.

Preparation for digitisation began in 2011, with two assistant archivists compiling a catalogue of church archival material in its different categories, since by that point the only available detailed listings described the monographs and other publications at Morija Archives, not the church archival materials. This compilation continues to grow in anticipation that the actual scanning of documents will begin in early 2013. The compilation already includes a listing of all diaries, sermons, correspondence, minutes, reports, financial records, registers (baptismal, marriage, membership), specific materials related to various missionaries (DF Ellenberger and his descendents, Adolphe Mabille, Hermann Dieterlen, Albert Brutsch), as well as additional material concerning over 100 different parishes of the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society (PEMS)/Lesotho Evangelical Church (LEC) covering the whole of Lesotho as well as parts of South Africa.

The Church Archives stretch beyond those at Morija Museum and Archives, as many valuable documents are also housed at other church offices such as Casalis House in Maseru and other Administration Offices. Hence, digitisation is the key solution to ensure that copies of all these documents, wherever these may be housed, are preserved and made available to others according to the Records Management and Archival Policy of the Lesotho Evangelical Church. (Source acknowledgment).

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