Writings on the Danish-Halle Mission

Founded in 1706, the Danish-Halle Mission was the first missionary entreprise in the history of the Protest church. On 6 June 1706, after a sea journey of more than six months, the theologians Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg (1682-1719) and Heinrich Plütschau (1677-1747) arrived in Tranquebar, the centre of the Danish colonies in Southeast India, and embarked upon an intercultural dialogue that existed well into the nineteenth century between the European conveyors of the first Protestant missionary movement in Copenhagen, Halle and London and the inhabitants of the South Indian kingdom of Tanjore. As the Danish crown funded the missionary enterprise, the educational and social foundation in Halle, initiated by and later named after the pastor and theology professor August Hermann Francke (1663-1727), supervised it, and because the London-based Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK) supported it, the mission in Tranquebar was called the Danish-Halle Mission or - in recent research - the Danish-English-Halle Mission.
Its extensive written records are of great importance to worldwide research interests into the eighteenth and early nineteenth century. The majority of the sources on this subject matter are kept at the Archive and Library of the Francke Foundations.
This website presents the so-called Hallesche Berichte, the first Protestant missionary journal, which was published by the directors of the Francke Foundations between 1720 and 1772 in 108 continuations and reached impressive circulation numbers. You an find more prints related to the Danish-Halle Mission in module Old Prints. Manuscripts originating from the missionary activities can be found in module Manuscripts / Autographs.

The Hallesche Berichte

The letters, journals and messages which missionaries dispatched from East India to Halle were edited there, published in the periodical Der Königl. Dänischen Missionarien aus Ost-Indien eingesandter Ausführlichen Berichten, the so-called Hallesche Berichte, and printed by the Orphanage's Publishing House from 1710 on. In this manner they were made available to an interested European audience. The Hallesche Berichte, which the respective Directors of the Francke Foundations published biannually, included journals, letters, travel accounts, essays, statistical reports and obituary notes. These reports not only comprised the most important source of information concerning the Danish-Halle Mission, but also contained a highly effective means of propaganda in order to raise donations for the mission and to establish a network of sponsors. The circle of subscribers extended far beyond Protestant Germany to Russia, Finland, Livonia, North Bohemia, Denmark, the Netherlands, England, Italy and Austria. The circulation figures were comparatively high: 600 copies have been documented in 1730 and 4,800 copies in 1770-71. No contemporary medium has exerted such an influence on the perception of India among Europeans than this first Protestant missionary journal. It provided information not only on the missionary events, but also on the culture and society, religions and traditions, flora and fauna of Southeast India in a wide, encyclopaedic range. Moreover, in particular English, French and Dutch translations of individual mission reports and of works by missionaries, as well as surveys on the history of the Danish-Halle Mission contributed to expanding the circle of readers.

Making the Hallesche Berichte available online

The Hallesche Berichte were completely digitised in 2004. In order to facilitate access to the various journal articles, all individual contributions of the 108 continuations were catalogued in a database according to the original eighteenth-century format. A simple or combined search enables users to access the total number of 1,727 letters, journals, reports and articles, as well as the 47 pictures. Links from the individual descriptions lead to the descriptions of the manuscripts on which the printing is based. These manuscripts are preserved in the Archive of the Francke Foundations, where they are catalogued in a database. This enables a direct comparison between the printed version and the original manuscript.
If you have any questions concerning the Hallesche Berichte, please contact the head of the August Hermann Francke Study Centre, Dr. Britta Klosterberg, E-mail: klosterberg@francke-halle.de