About the J. Winfield Fretz Fellowship in Mennonite Studies

J. Winfield Fretz

J. Winfield Fretz receiving a donation of a family Bible to the Mennonite Archives of Ontario, 1968The Fretz Endowment, from which this fellowship is drawn, was established to recognize Grebel’s first president, J. Winfield Fretz, whose scholarship on the sociology of Mennonites had a significant impact around the world. Donations to the endowment are welcome: contact Fred W. Martin, Director of Advancement fwmartin@uwaterloo.ca or 519-885-0220 x24381.

J. Winfield Fretz receives a donation of a family Bible from Winifred and Lillian Snider to the Mennonite Archives of Ontario, 1968


J. Winfield Fretz Visiting Research Scholars in Mennonite Studies

Dr. David Y. Neufeld

The Institute for Anabaptist Mennonite Studies (IAMS) at Grebel has named David Neufeld the 2019-20 J. Winfield Fretz Visiting Research Scholar in Mennonite Studies. He will research Anabaptist archival cultures and practices, as well as investigating a new archival turn in early modern European historiography that recasts archives as the products of historical processes, not neutral bodies. He proposes to apply this archival turn to Anabaptist archival sources, which has the potential to reopen questions long thought settled in Anabaptist historiography. As the Fretz Scholar, Neufeld will offer a public lecture, collaborate with IAMS colleagues and the archives, and use the unique resources of the Milton Good Library. 

 “The College’s strengths in the area of Anabaptist-Mennonite Studies, represented by Grebel’s faculty and the resources available in the Milton Good Library and Mennonite Archives of Ontario, align perfectly with my own teaching and research interests,” said Neufeld. “With the support of the Fretz Fellowship, I intend to expand an existing project on early Anabaptist archival practices and cultures and their impact on shaping what we can know about these nonconformists. I will continue to prepare my doctoral dissertation, which explores dynamics of coexistence and conflict between Anabaptists and Reformed in seventeenth-century Zurich, for publication.”

Dr. David Y. Neufeld is Visiting Assistant Professor of History at Conrad Grebel University College. Neufeld is a historian of religion, culture, and social life in the early modern world. 

"Where Moth and Rust Destroy: Archives and the Contest over Anabaptist Information"

J. Winfield Fretz Visiting Scholar Lecture 2020, presented by Dr. David Y. Neufeld

Archives set the parameters of what we can know about early Anabaptists. Examination of archives’ own histories shows that, far from neutral repositories of historical evidence, these collections intensified conflict between early Anabaptists and their opponents. The management of information about nonconformists contributed to their repression, while Anabaptists’ documentary response supported their efforts to survive. 

Dr. Ben Nobbs-Thiessen

The Institute of Anabaptist and Mennonite Studies announces the 2018/2019 recipient of the J. Winfield Fretz Fellowship, Dr. Ben Nobbs-Thiessen.  A Latin American historian whose research focuses on the evolving history of the low-German Mennonite diaspora in the region, he completed his PhD at Emory University in 2016 and is currently a postdoctoral researcher in the School of Transborder Studies at Arizona State University.  His book project, Landscape of Migration: Mobility and Agro-Environmental Change on Bolivia’s Tropical Frontier, is currently under review for publication.  It explores the role of indigenous Andean, Mennonite and Okinawan settlers in Bolivia’s “March to the East,” which was per capita one of the largest tropical colonization projects of the 20th century.  His work has been published in the Journal of Mennonite Studies, Agricultural History, and the Journal of Latin American Studies.  

Dr. Nobbs-Thiessen will take up residency at Conrad Grebel in May 2019 for two months. Drawing on resources at the Mennonite Archives of Ontario and Milton Good Library, he plans to “explore the environmental, economic and religious factors that produced and sustained multi-generational trans-border Mennonite communities” in Canada, the United States and Mexico.

Dr. Aileen Friesen

Aileen FriesenThe inaugural recipient of the Fretz Fellowship is Dr. Aileen Friesen of Waterloo, Ontario. Dr. Friesen is an emerging scholar in the field of Russian Mennonite history, with an emphasis on religious minorities in Siberia. She completed her doctorate at the University of Alberta and has held postdoctoral positions at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and University of Winnipeg.  In 2016, Dr. Friesen gave the inaugural lecture at the Centre for Transnational Mennonite Studies at University of Winnipeg on the topic: “Indigenous-Mennonite Relations in the Russian Empire.” She is currently working on projects related to the 1920s emigration of Mennonites from the Soviet Union, and on Mennonite-Muslim relations in Russia.