The meetings of the GAMEO Canadian Editorial Committee and the Mennonite Historical Society of Canada were held in Winnipeg this year. As usual, Manitoba presented us with third week of January temperatures that rarely rose above -25 degrees, accompanied by corresponding wind chill figures. The meetings were held in the Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies in a new building on Taylor Avenue.
There have been some significant developments in GAMEO since last year. The encyclopedia has been moved out of the confines of its MHSC home and now exists under the umbrella of the Mennonite World Conference Faith and Life Commission. In keeping with the desire to build a flexible multilingual research tool the encyclopedia is migrating to a new software platform called MediaWiki. Conversations about the integration of GAMEO with the Global AnabaptistWiki site have continued with John Roth of Goshen College. Global AnabaptistWiki will be the location for primary documents like confessions of faith. Once the migration has taken place further moves in the direction of linguistic expansion will begin to take place. Watch for developments in the next six months.
One of the highlights of the MHSC meetings was the report from Esther Epp Tiessen on the successful completion of her book on the history of Mennonite Central Committee in Canada. Her work has been supported by the Society over the past two years and it was interesting to hear about some of the issues and challenges that arose during the research and writing of the manuscript. There will be an official book launch in December and the Society may hold its meeting to coincide with the event.
There was a report from the genealogy committee on its plan to establish a platform for consolidating the genealogy records of the provincial archives. The archivists had their second annual meeting and suggested establishing a national database of photographs held in the various provincial archives as a top priority, although the technical aspects are challenging. These are projects that should be very useful to researchers into a variety of subjects.
Three other items that caught my fancy were the report from the EMC archivist that they had stitched together detailed aerial photographs of Manitoba taken shortly after WWII and were now making them available on a CD; the triumphant display of a thumb drive containing seven gigs worth of MB Heralds from 1962-2012 by Jon Isaac, the MB archivist; and the account by Royden Loewen, Chair of Mennonite Studies, of “Sean Patterson’s innovative MA thesis on Nester Machno, the controversial Ukrainian revolutionary (seen as a national hero in Ukraine and as a terrorist and uncouth bandit by Mennonites).” By the sound of it, the thesis will challenge firmly held beliefs about Machno and one can only hope that it will soon be published.
Finally, the Society awarded the MHSC Award of Excellence, given last year to Irene Klassen of Calgary, to William Schroeder, best known for his maps of Mennonite villages in Russia.
Wesley Berg, MHSA