New Exhibit Features the Art of Mennonite Family Trees

Monday, May 13, 2019

Daniel and Maria (Suter) Steiner family tree by Sam Geiger, 1906 A new exhibit at the Mennonite Archives of Ontario showcases painted family trees, hand-drawn charts, and other ways Mennonites have visually remembered family. The exhibit is called Growing Family: Design & Desire in Mennonite Genealogy

The inspiration for Growing Family came to archivist Laureen Harder-Gissing as she observed reactions to a large hand drawn family tree that hung outside her office for years. “People would come by and stare at it, absolutely fascinated,” she recalled. “Most had no connection to the family, but there’s something about these works that has universal appeal.”

Combing through the archives in search of family trees for the exhibit, Harder-Gissing was struck by their complexity. “These are not simple drawings. Genealogists don’t just uncover the past, they have a hand in shaping it. Designing a family tree requires choices, and reflects deep desires for connection and identity.”  From this realization came the exhibit’s joint themes of “design and desire.”

Growing Family runs from May 2019-May 2021 at the Mennonite Archives of Ontario at Conrad Grebel University College. Admission is free. Tours are self-guided; guided tours and additional programming are available upon request in advance to the archivist. More information and images from the exhibit are available at uwaterloo.ca/grebel/growingfamily.

Contact:
Laureen Harder-Gissing
Archivist, Mennonite Archives of Ontario
Conrad Grebel University College
lharderg@uwaterloo.ca
519-885-0220 x24238

Photo: Daniel and Maria (Suter) Steiner family tree by Sam Geiger, 1906 (detail)

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