The International Mission Photography Archive (IMPA) presently displays more than 50,000 of pictures taken between 1860 and 1950 from Protestant and Catholic mission collections in Great Britain, France, Norway, Germany, Switzerland, and the United States.

The project has been supported by grants from the Getty Grant Program, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Scholarly Communications program, the National Endowment for the Humanities Division of Preservation and Access, and the National Endowment for the Humanities Office of Digital Humanities.

In the century before World War II, missionaries were a grassroots presence wherever Western influence reached around the world. They were among the first to use photography to document their activities. Their photographs record missionary endeavors and reflect the missionaries’ experience of communities and environments abroad –  a world that would otherwise be unknown today.

The Maryknoll Mission Archives contributed more than 7,500 images from its collections to the International Mission Photography Archive. Among the mission areas documented are China, Korea, the Philippines, Japan, Guatemala and Mexico.

Here are a few highlights from the body of digitized images with a focus on the youngest children of God…

“IMPA is the leading resource for mission scholars, cultural historians, and others who are interested in pictures that document social change in non-Western culture.”

Jon Miller

USA Center for Religion and Civic Culture