'Making good wives and mothers': The african education group and missionary reactions to the phelps stokes reports

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The discussions that took place between the Colonial Office and Christian missions over the implementation of the recommendations of the Phelps Stokes Education Commissions merit more historical investigation. While missions voiced little public opposition to the reforms of mission education outlined in the two reports, over time, in meetings and conferences sponsored by the International Missionary Council (IMC), missionary challenges to the recommendations mounted. This was especially the case with the recommendations concerning the education of African girls. Thomas Jesse Jones, leader of the two Phelps Stokes Education Commissions and author of the two reports, argued that schools for African girls should focus on the training of future Christian matriarchs, who would supply colonial states with the healthy, disciplined labour forces those states desperately desired. Jones identified the school maintained by the missionary Mabel Shaw at Mbereshi in Zambia as the model other missions might emulate. Based upon Jones' recommendations concerning Shaw and her school, the British Colonial Office placed before Christian missions a gendered educational policy that would feature the education of African girls as wives and mothers. J. H. Oldham of the IMC took the point in presenting the Phelps Stokes recommendations and the government proposals based upon the recommendations to missionaries. Oldham discovered that missionaries questioned Shaw's expertise and rejected the idea that girls should be educated only to be wives and mothers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)66-85
Number of pages20
JournalStudies in World Christianity
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015


  • Gender and education
  • Girl's education
  • J. H. Oldham
  • Mabel Shaw
  • Mission schools
  • Phelps Stokes Education Commission
  • Thomas Jesse Jones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies
  • History


Dive into the research topics of ''Making good wives and mothers': The african education group and missionary reactions to the phelps stokes reports'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this