DABOH (Documentation, Archives, Bibliography and Oral History) Study Group

The International Association for Mission Studies

DABOH Group at Ráday Library, Budapest (Balaton Conference, 16-23 August 2008)

  • Introduction
  • Purpose Statement
  • Panel of Reference
  • Present Tasks
  • Recent activities
  • Contact
  • Introduction

    The IAMS Mission Study Group, Documentation, Archives, Bibliography and Oral History (DABOH) came into being in the earliest meetings of IAMS following its inception in 1972.  It now has an active core of more than fifty members worldwide. 

    Over 35 years the aims expressed in the purpose statement below have renewed our belief that archives and the documentation of the mission of the church are about life and the future. As mission studies and missiology have matured as disciplines essential to a global and cross-cultural understanding of Christian faith, we remain committed to finding ways to "Rescue the memory of our peoples" and to ground critical and theological reflection on the mission of the church in the historical and cultural experiences of the people of God.

    Purpose Statement

    DABOH exists to help rescue the memory of our people by: 

    Panel of Reference

    A Panel of Reference was appointed after the successful Balaton Conference in August 2008, tasked to promote DABOH; identify and encourage local initiatives; and encourage international collaboration.

    Present members include: 

    Present Tasks

    The 2008 Balaton Conference mandated the following three tasks for 2008-2012:

    1. Commissioning of best-practice manuals

    Following the success of the publication of the Rosemary Seton and Martha Smalley’s Archives Manual into seven languages, DABOH will prepare two best-practice manuals, for (a) digitalisation projects; and (b) documentation of grey literature.  We are delighted that Mrs Rosemary Seton and Professor Paul Stuehrenberg will take up these respective tasks.

    The Russian edition of the Archives Manual  will be available by mid 2009.

    2. Workshop on Documenting Christianity in Contexts of Transition (Herrnhut 2010)

    To mark the centenary of the Edinburgh 1910 Conference, DABOH will convene a Workshop in the final week of May 2010 on “Documenting Christianity in Contexts of Transition”.  We are planning for a gathering of 20-25 practitioners and stakeholders from regions where the Christian community is undergoing huge transitions. The proposed Workshop aims (a) to explore the theology of archives in contexts of transition; and (b) to discuss the draft of two commissioned best-practice manuals, one on digitizing missionary materials and the other on documenting gray literature.

    Mrs Rosemary Seton (SOAS) and Dr Danut Manastireanu (World Vision, the Middle East & Eastern Europe region) are the co-chairs of the Programme Design Group for this Workshop.  Other members include: Dr Mark Gornik (City Seminary of New York) , Dr Rüdiger Kröger (Moravian Archives, Herrnhut), Mrs Claire-Lise Lombard (DÉFAP, Paris), Dr Peter Penner (IBTS, Prague), Dr Michael Poon (Trinity Theological College, Singapore) and Professor Paul Stuehrenberg (YDSL, New Haven).  The Workshop will be held at the Moravian Archives, Herrnhut, Germany. The Workshop will also be an occasion in marking the 250th anniversary of the death of Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf.

    3. Encouraging and supporting new initiatives

    DABOH encourages its study group members to take up local initiatives. At the same time, we seek ways to foster ingenuity and fresh initiatives among individuals and institutions. We recommend IAMS to make small funds available to assist those starting new projects.

    One direct outcome of the Balaton Conference is the launch of the Central and Eastern European Association for Mission Studies (CEEAMS) DABOH group, headed by Dr Danut Manastireanu.  We look forward to working with DABOH-CEEAMS in promoting documentation in Central and Eastern Europe.

    Archivists from Europe also proposed drawing up a list or directory of major missionary archives starting with Western Europe and hopefully extending this to include collections in Central and Eastern Europe.  We warmly welcome this initiative, and look forward to the fruits of this collaboration between archivists in Western, Central and Eastern Europe.

    Recent activities

    Highlights in our history include consultations which took stock of the need for archives for mission and which gave encouragement to the development of bibliographies, electronic and print, and support to oral history.

    At the 1992 IAMS Conference a statement on Archives for Mission was drawn up affirming that "if we lose our way to the past, we lose our way to the future."

    In Rome in 2002 the consultation Rescuing the Memory of Our Peoples led to the production of an archives manual designed to help churches and people around the world develop and safeguard their own archives resources. 

    The DABOH Study Group in the IAMS Port Dickson Assembly 2004 undertook to translate the Archives Manual into major languages of the world.  English, Chinese, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Korean and Swahili versions of the Manual were produced by 2007. They are now available for free download through the Yale University Divinity School Library, Overseas Ministries Study Center, and the Centre for the Study of Christianity in Asia websites.   An oral history manual, Doing Oral History: Helping Christians tell their own stories by Jean-Paul Wiest is also available for download through the above links.  The Archives Manual is available in printed form from the Overseas Ministries Study Center.

    From 16-23 August 2008, DABOH held a Conference on Mission and Memory: Documenting World Christianity in the 21st Century at Balaton, Hungary.  Click here for the papers presented at the Conference.


    To join the DABOH Group, please write to the Convener Michael Poon, Director of the Centre for the Study of Christianity in Asia, Trinity Theological College, Singapore.  We welcome mission historians, practitioners, archivists and librarians to join the DABOH Group.

    For 2002 to 2004 activities including the Rome 2002 Conference see Rescuing the Memory of our Peoples
    See also  Archives for Mission and Documentation, Archives and Bibliography and
    the prayer of Fr Sebastian Karotemprel SDB at the opening teleconference planning Rome 2002.