Conference of 1877, special mention must be made of the important development of women's work, especially in the interior. As early as 1844, Miss Aldersey, as an independent worker, had commenced her work among the women and girls at Ningpo; while in 1850 the American Protestant Episcopalian Church, the first Society to send a lady worker to China, sent out Miss L. M. Fay to Shanghai. The Berlin Foundling Home at Hongkong soon followed this example, while the American Methodist Episcopalian Mission sent the Misses B. and S. H. Woolston to Foochow in 1859. The American Presbyterians and American Baptists followed in 1866, the latter Society sending Miss A. M. Field to Swatow.
In 1866, when the C.I.M. Lammermuir party sailed, there were only fourteen unmarried ladies in China, of whom seven were at Hongkong, the others being stationed in six of the principal coast ports. In the Lammermuir party, however, were six single lady workers, in addition to two married ladies. At the Conference of 1877 there were sixty-two lady workers, not counting the missionaries' wives, so that the number had risen from fourteen to sixty-two in little over a decade.
With the famine of 1877-78 in Shansi, women's work in the interior may be said to have commenced, and the first party of ladies to go west consisted of Mrs. Hudson Taylor, Miss Horne, and Miss Crikmay, who reached Taiyuen Fu, the capital of the famine-stricken province, in October 1878. Within the short space of three years from this date, women workers connected with the C.I.M. had entered and settled in six of the inland provinces, besides taking the Gospel to hundreds of women living in Honan and Hunan, where residence was not then possible.
It was also at this time, through the energy and the appeals of Miss Foster of the Society for Promoting Female Education in the East, that the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society extended their operations from India
- This Society was formed as a result of the appeals of Mr. Abeel in England in 1834.