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Lorraine Roth’s collection finds archival home

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A lifetime of persistent and meticulous research into the lives and family histories of Amish Mennonites has been donated to the Mennonite Archives of Ontario at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo. Lorraine Roth first became intrigued with genealogy as a teenager in the 1940s, and spent the ensuing decades reading and corresponding widely. She even travelled to Europe to unearth archival documents and taught herself to read old German script. Her published genealogies were soon followed by local histories, such as Willing Service: Stories of Ontario Mennonite Women (1992) and The Amish and Their Neighbours, about Wilmot Township (1998).

“Everyone says ‘where does the time go?’ but how many of us actually stop to record and tell the stories of people in our families and local communities?” says Grebel Archivist Laureen Harder-Gissing. “Lorraine’s gift is her ability to pay attention, to search out those facts and stories. Through the generous donation of her collection, the public can continue to benefit from her work.” In addition to genealogy files on over 100 Amish family names and research files for her history books, the collection reflects her experiences as a mission worker in Honduras, a Goshen College student, and a world traveler.

Lorraine had long expressed the desire that the Mennonite Archives of Ontario become the archival home for her research. In November, 21 boxes of files were moved from her residence in Tavistock to the archives in Waterloo. Here they will be stored until they can be properly preserved and eventually made available to the public. “The opening of Roth’s collection for research will likely coincide with the opening of the Lorraine Roth Archives Reading Room in our new facility in 2014,” says Harder-Gissing.

Lorraine RothFriends who wanted to honour Lorraine Roth’s contribution began raising funds to name the new reading room in her honour at a fundraising dinner in Tavistock on year ago. They are $10,000 away from meeting their goal of $75,000! Donations to this fund are still being accepted. Contact Fred W. Martin at fwmartin@uwaterloo.ca or 519-885-0220 x24381 to contribute.

See Grebel’s plans for the expanded Library and Archives.

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