Available only in the Kentucky Digital Library

The Afro-American Mission Herald was the first paper to advance and nurture the foreign mission agenda of the National Baptist Convention of the United States of America.

The Convention was created by African American Baptists in Antebellum America with a strong desire to connect to each other on a national and global scale. Previous conventions, in free-states mostly, were tethered to white associations. As emancipation neared, so, too, did the need for religious independence. Although efforts to establish such a national organization date back as far as the 1840s, regional interests stalled such efforts. Southern blacks seemed especially resistant to a national canon, choosing the comfortable isolation of state unions instead. This regionalism resulted in divergent organizations, three of which became most prominent; the Southern Baptist Convention, American National Baptists Convention formed by Kentuckian Rev. William Simmons, and the National Baptist Convention. By 1895 these three organizations had merged to make The National Baptist Convention USA, Inc. as it exists today and remains the oldest African American religious convention in the U.S. What made this convention work where others had failed was due, in part, to its organizational structure. Divided into three primary boards - Foreign Missions, Home Missions, and Education - the consolidated conventions oversaw one board each.

It was from the Foreign Mission Board that former Mississippi slave Dr. Lewis Garnett Jordan, a minister and the Convention's first historian, left his mark. From Convention headquarters at the Colored Baptist Church of Louisville, Dr. Jordan formed the bi-monthly Afro-American Mission Herald. Its primary objective was to serve and promote The Conventions foreign mission interests that, though worldwide, were concentrated in west and southern Africa. It was a duty that Jordan vigorously upheld through his editorials and content selection, making the paper a "progressive vessel" for the masses. In his book Up the Ladder in Foreign Missions, Dr. Jordan sounds the papers merit "because no history of missions records impartially and fully the deeds of Negroes who have gone to heathen lands and delivered, amid persecution and thrilling circumstances, the Story of the Cross."

The Afro-American Mission Herald was instrumental in the success of the foreign missions and did so, in large part, by keeping African American missionaries connected to each other and home. Eleven years after it was formed in Louisville, the paper moved to Philadelphia. Today, it is still in print as the Mission Herald. The original hard copies of the Afro-American Mission Herald from which the digital images were derived were lent to the University of Kentucky Libraries by the Congregational Library in Boston, MA. Prior to microfilming each issue was cleaned and mended by the UK Libraries Conservation Lab.