International Women’s Day: Amy Carmichael’s papers

Date published: 07 March 2017

PRONI’s document of the month for March has been selected to coincide with International Women’s Day which takes place on 8 March 2017.

The document chosen is an annotated bible from the papers of Millisle born missionary, Amy Carmichael, the founder of the Dohnavur Fellowship in Southern India, 1887-1987.

Janet Hancock, Deputy Head of Public Services, said “I selected this bible because not only is it beautifully annotated but it tells the story of Amy’s missionary life. She uses different colours for different paragraphs and these reflect a variety of themes which I expect she incorporated into her teachings. One particular annotation caught my eye and this was in reference to the apostle, Peter’s calling in Matthew 14 v 28, which seems to particularly resonate with Amy.

“The gospel author had written: ‘And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water’. In the margin, Amy had written that in matters of guidance, everything depends on that ‘if’ and that ‘come’. This seems to relate to her own calling to go to India, as she then details in the margins her own missionary work, listing dates of when she went to particular locations”.

Amy Carmichael, founder of the Dohnavur Fellowship, was born in Millisle, Co. Down, in 1868. She went out to Japan as a missionary in 1893, moving to Southern India in 1895. For several years she travelled around the Tinnevelly district but from 1901 she began her work of rescuing babies and young girls from dedication as 'temple women', which is detailed in an account within the archive. She spent the rest of her life at Dohnavur where she established nurseries, an orphanage and schools, which developed into an entire village complex. Amy also wrote approximately 40 books, principally about the Dohnavur community. She died in 1951.

PRONI will also be hosting an event that explores the stories of Irish women in India on 8 March at 2pm.  From Ireland to India - Women of Change will feature a presentation by freelance writer and broadcaster, Malachi O’Doherty, on the life of Margaret Noble who was born into a Dungannon  Methodist family in 1867, and later became a revolutionary nationalist in India. There will also be a presentation by documentary maker, Iain Webster, who has previously produced a BBC documentary on Amy Carmichael.

Notes to editors: 

  1. PRONI is at 2 Titanic Boulevard, Titanic Quarter, Belfast.  For details on opening hours, see the nidirect website or call 028 90 534800. 
  2. Amy Carmichael’s bible can be found in the PRONI archive, D4061/39/3/1
  3. Follow us on twitter @CommunitiesNI
  4. For media enquiries please contact the DfC Press Office on 028 9082 3509 or mail For out of hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number on 07623 974383 and your call will be returned.

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