Missionaries brought with them two principal tools of conversion, the schoolhouse and the printing press. Printing was key to disseminating the Gospel and Christian tract literature, as well as school books in Indian languages. Among the eminent pioneers of vernacular printing was William Carey (1761-1834), who established a mission in the Danish colony of Serampore near Calcutta in 1800. The legendary Serampore Press printed bibles in almost 50 languages, most of them translated by Carey and his associates. Carey's New Testament in Bengali (1801) is shown here. Printed bibles were only a fraction of an estimated 2,120,000 copies of both religious and secular works that were issued from Serampore between 1800 and 1832.
Christian missions in India proliferated in the wake of the Company Charter Act of 1813, which opened British territories to missionary activity. While missionaries played an important role in the expansion of literacy and primary education, their work remained deeply controversial. This was especially true for efforts at educating Indian women, which consolidated from mid-century onward with the zenana missions, when female missionaries entered into the privacy of Indian homes. The beatific image of zenana work in Children of India (1883) projects a benevolent relationship that often did not correspond to reality.