Manitoba played host to the annual Mennonite Historical Society of Canada (MHSC) meetings held at the Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies January 17-19, 2013. In conjunction, several related committees also met including the online encyclopedia (www.gameo.org) committees. MHSC is made up of member organizations including provincial Mennonite historical societies, Mennonite denominations and other like-minded organizations including MCC. Participants came from Quebec to British Columbia.
The society has revived an archives committee. This, the third year it has met, has undertaken an exciting project of a Mennonite online photo database to help large and small archives manage its photo collection and provide much enhanced access by the public to the rich photos in Canadian Mennonite archives. The task force was given the green light to pursue the project and seek additional partners and look for ways to cover the estimated $20,000 cost. Jake Buhler, president of the Mennonite Historical Society of Saskatchewan noted that this project will link archival centres large and small across the country like they never have before.
While the society has undertaken important projects such as the writing of the three volume set, Mennonites in Canada, and the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online, the photo database is institution based, designed to help institutions and researchers. The database project testifies to the on-going good relationships and cooperation among Canadian Mennonite historical societies and their participants.
Other items of business included reporting on the beginnings of a new genealogy web site and the ongoing Divergent Voices of Canadian Mennonites symposiums hosted by the Chair of Mennonite Studies. Society members were pleased to hear that Esther Epp-Tiessen is almost finished the manuscript exploring the role of Mennonite Central Committee in Canada. A 2014 launch date is being planned.
As is tradition one block of time was set aside for a learning tour. This year we were privileged to have an interior tour of the Canadian Museum of Human rights which is still under construction. Participants donned on safety gear and were impressed with the size and architecture of the building which is set to open in 2014. Angela Cassie of the museum took 20 participants on a 90 minute tour explaining unique materials, symbolism and opportunities the museum provides to Canadians.
Bill Schroeder of Winnipeg was awarded the MHSC award of excellence for his historical maps, publications and tours of Russia he has undertaken over the past decades. Schroeder was pleased with the award and came to the meetings for the award ceremony. Schroeder has been involved in historical research and volunteering at the Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies since 1969. The Mennonite Historical Atlas that Schroeder co-authored with Helmut Heubert has sold over 7,000 copies and is a mainstay in most Russian Mennonite research libraries. The nomination noted that, “Bill Schroeder exemplifies Mennonite historical research with his quiet tenacity, humble demeanor, and collaborative approaches, all the while cognizant of relationships and striving for excellence.”
The next annual meeting of the society will again be held in Winnipeg in either December 2013 or January 2014.
Conrad Stoesz, Archivist
Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies
1310 Taylor, Ave
Winnipeg, MB. R3M 3Z6
(204) 669-6575 or (888) 669-6575