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The Morija Archives  

The Morija Archives is the official repository of the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society / Church of Basutoland / Lesotho Evangelical Church in Southern Africa, that is, the oldest mission/church in Lesotho, established in 1833. Its personnel, often with a keen sense of their pioneering work, took great pains to record not only their own work, but also oral traditions and customs, genealogies and oral history, and much more. In addition, Morija Archives serves as a Specialist Library with a wide range of books, newspapers, government reports, documents, maps, photographs, digital recordings, and other material relevant to Lesotho and Southern Africa. French, Sesotho, and English are the main languages used in the collections. 


The Collection 

The Morija Archives hosts a unique collection of 19th-century documents, consolidated by the first missionary to Masitise, Rev. DF Ellenberger (1835-1920). This valuable collection was preserved and greatly augmented over the past century, most notably by Rev. Albert Brutsch (1916-2004) who was responsible for the archives from the mid-1950s until 1999. The Archives include not only the archives of the Lesotho Evangelical Church (LEC), which was previously known as the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society (PEMS), but also thousands of rare books on Lesotho and southern Africa, journals and newspaper collections, government publications, academic theses, grey literature, maps, photographs and other valuable documentation.

The Morija Archives contain tens of thousands of documents that are currently being catalogued. With time, the most important items will be digitised and placed online to facilitate research. The Archives hold material which helps researchers understand more fully the unique history of the Basotho nation. This treasure includes colonial records such as Blue books, government gazettes, governmental reports, a wide range of missionary correspondence, church registers, and the first newspaper in Lesotho from 1863 to date called Leselinyana. There is also a wide collection of material in French, the most valuable being Journal des Missions Évangéliques, and a few books in German. A Linguistic section contains material in many other African languages as well as a large collection of books written in the local official language, Sesotho. There are hundreds of photographs, maps, and monographs, dealing with Lesotho and mission work in general, the history of education, a fine collection of Music including the first hymnals in the Sesotho language, Lifela tsa Sione, and many of the published works of the most renowned Basotho composers of choral music such as J.P. Mohapeloa and others.

Digitising the Archive

In order to protect precious hand-written and printed materials, as well as manuscripts hosted by Morija Museum & Archives, plus, provide wider access to online researchers and other academics, a digitization project in phases is being undertaken. Over the past decade, genealogical materials have been digitised by Family Search International; a wide range of other church / mission-related material by the Yale Divinity School Library; and Leselinyana plus the historical papers of DF Ellenberger by the British Library. Other materials will be digitised as resources become available.

Once a proper reading room is available at Morija Museum & Archives, computers with all of this digitised material will be available to researchers. If resources permit, some of this material will be placed online. 

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