Early Twentieth Century U.S. Methodist Missions Photography: The Problems of “Home”

Morris L. Davis, Jr.

Abstract


By the early twentieth century, photography had become a central feature of mission education produced by mission boards in North America. Mission boards in the Methodist Episcopal Church were at the forefront of the strong embrace of this relatively new and increasingly affordable and accessible visual medium. Photographs were considered science, and as such they offered compelling, and often dramatic, proof of the world’s needs and of missionary successes. This essay explores the uses of photographs in a period of great optimism about the possibilities and scope of missions, and argues that photographs can help illuminate the ways the mission enterprise shaped Christian conceptions of “home.”


Keywords


Missions; Photography; Race

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Methodist Review, ISSN: 1946-5254 (online), copyright © 2009-2013 by The Methodist Review, Inc.