City missionaries | State Library of New South Wales

City missionaries

As society became more industrialised through the 19th century, thousands of people flocked to the cities looking for work. In Western cities across the world, certain areas became gathering points for the poor, the unemployed, the dissolute and the corrupt. These slum areas also became focal points for city missionaries, who saw them as places of spiritual danger. Missions sprang up, combining social work with evangelism. In Sydney, the slum areas around the Rocks, Pyrmont and Darling Harbour were particular focuses for religious outreach organisations such as Sydney City Mission (established 1862), the Salvation Army (1882) and the Central Methodist Mission (1884).

Salvation Army Newtown. 1942

Salvation Army, Newtown, 15 March 1942, by Sam Hood
Photograph   Home and Away - 25933

The work of some of these people and organisations are represented in the collections of the Mitchell Library. They include Laura Francis, who began her lay preaching work in 1890 as a Sister of the People with the Central Methodist Mission and James Mathers, who worked as a lay missionary with the Sydney City Mission from 1897 to 1911.

 > Find out more about Laura Francis

Find out more about Laura Francis

 > Find out more about James Mathers

Find out more about James Mathers

View a selection of photographs of religious charities and organisations in the first half of the twentieth century.

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