Laureen Harder-Gissing



Laureen Harder-Gissing

(519) 885-0220 ext. 24238
Office:  CGUC 3201


BA (Hons. History), University of Waterloo, 1991
MA (Religion & Culture), Wilfrid Laurier University, 1993
MISt, University of Toronto, 2010


Laureen began her role as Archivist-Librarian in 2009. A major project in her early years was the renovation and expansion of the library and archives, completed in 2014. She has been formative in the creation and expansion of the Mennonite Archival Information Database (MAID), which went online in 2015. She has served as the president of the Mennonite Historical Society of Canada (2019-2021) and in other leadership roles in the Mennonite historical community.

In her archival processing and research work, her focus is on the fascinating variety of Mennonites with roots and branches in Ontario. She enjoys sharing what she has learned through talks, exhibits and tours, and is always learning from these encounters with other Mennonites and the wider public. She is currently researching and writing a book with co-author Brian Froese on the history of Mennonites in Canada from 1970 to the present. On the library side of her work, she has expended the role to include providing research support as "liaison librarian" to several academic departments at Conrad Grebel.

Prior to 2009, Laureen worked as a freelance public historian for several Ontario Mennonite organizations. She also managed the Mennonite and Brethren in Christ Resource Centre in Kitchener, an audiovisual library which resourced the church. Her hometown is the farming community of Vineland, Ontario, an area rich in Mennonite history. During her undergraduate years, she lived and studied at Conrad Grebel.

Listen to an interview with Laureen about her work in the Library and Archives.

Primary Activities:

  • Librarian, Milton Good Library
  • Liaison Librarian, Peace and Conflict Studies, Theological Studies and Mennonite Studies
  • Archivist, Mennonite Archives of Ontario

Research Areas:

Mennonites in Ontario, Mennonites and genealogy, Mennonites and peace history, Mennonites in Canada since 1970

Classroom Instruction:

Library instruction in:

ARTS 140 - Information and Analysis
PACS 101 – Peace is Everyone’s Business
PACS 401 - Senior Honours Seminar
PACS 610 - Contemporary Nonviolent Movements
TS 600 - Thinking Theologically

Archives instruction in:
ARTS 125 - Who are the Mennonites?
HIST 247 - Mennonite History

Selected Publications:

Selected Features and Interviews:

  • D’Amato, Luisa. “’But We Thought We Were Doing the Right Thing’: A Gathering in Waterloo Explores the Complicated Relationship between Mennonites and Indigenous People.” Waterloo Region Record, May 12, 2022.

  • "Postcards from the Other Side," Waterloo Region Record, November 16, 2018.

  • Epp, Marlene and Laureen Harder-Gissing. "Remembering an Old War in a New Way." Waterloo Region Record, September 8, 2017.

  • Regular Column, “A Moment from Yesterday.” The Canadian Mennonite, July 2015.
  • Interview for the Mennonite Archival Image Database, by Jeff Hicks, Waterloo Region Record. Published as “Moments of Mennonite Life Captured in New Online Archive," March 20, 2015.
  • Interview for Taking Community from the Farm to the World,  by Craig Norris, Morning Edition, CBC Kitchener-Waterloo. February 18, 2015.

Selected Community Activities:

  • Site Administrator, Mennonite Archival Image Database
  • President, Mennonite Historical Society of Ontario
  • Chair, Mennonite Historical Society of Canada Archives Committee and MHSC Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online Committee
  • Historian, Mennonite Church Eastern Canada

Selected Presentations:

  • "Mennonite Ebbs and Flows: Two Centuries Along the Grand." Diversity in Genealogy, an Ontario Ancestors virtual conference, September 9, 2023.

  • “’What was Lost, What Remains, What is Possible’: Attempts at Truth and Reconciliation in a Mennonite Archives.” Indigenous-Mennonite Encounters in Time and Place, Conrad Grebel University College, Waterloo, May 12-15, 2022.

  • "The Cookie War: A Sweet and True Tale from the Mennonite Archives of Ontario," The Anabaptist Story Lives On virtual talk series, February 9, 2021.
  • "'White, Mennonite readers are asking questions about Indian people': Indigenous peoples and issues in the pages of Mennonite Reporter, 1972-1997," Canadian Society of Church History, June 2, 2020.
  • "Canadian Mennonites on the Edges of Activism, 1970-2000," A People of Diversity: Mennonites in Canada Since 1970, University of Winnipeg: Winnipeg, MB, November 2018
  • "Sites of Nonresistance: Exhibiting the Experiences of Ontario Mennonites in the First World War," Remembering Muted Voices: Conscience, Dissent, Resistance and Civil Liberties in World War I Through Today, The National World War I Museum and Memorial, Kansas City, KS, October 2017
  • "Representing 'It's Complicated': Family Secrets and Genealogical Pursuits in the Lives of Two Mennonite Women," Crossing the Line: Women of Anabaptist Traditions Encounter Borders and Boundaries, Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Va., June 2017
  • "The Neighbours Who Said 'No': Ontario Mennonite Conscientious Objectors in the Second World War," Waterloo Historical Society, Waterloo, November 2016.
  • “’Where are You in This?’: Ontario Mennonites and the First World War,” Archives of Ontario, Toronto, September 2015.
  • “Preserving the Past for a Living Future: Digitising and Preserving Photographs” (co-presented with Conrad Stoesz), Mennonite World Conference, Harrisburg, Penn., July 2015.
  • “Stories from the ‘Mennonite Box’:  History and Genealogy at the Mennonite Archives of Ontario,” Oxford Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society, Woodstock, September 2014.
  • “Side by side: Ontario Mennonite Stories of the First World War,” Archives Association of Ontario, OUIT, Oshawa, June 2014.

Recent Curated Exhibits at the Mennonite Archives of Ontario Gallery:

Selected Research Guides: