Why volunteer with us?
The archives is located within the library of Conrad Grebel University College, a liberal arts college on the campus of the University of Waterloo. As a centre for Mennonite history and culture the archives offers exhibit space, a pleasant reading room, and a spacious workroom for staff and volunteers, all within a renovated and expanded facility.
Administered by a professional archivist, the archives seeks volunteers for clearly defined tasks that help our visitors and researchers learn about the Ontario Mennonite story. We hope that volunteers will also find their understanding of Mennonite history expanded and enriched. We strive to create a welcoming and appreciative atmosphere for our volunteers, and we value your contributions.
How do I become a volunteer?
Read through this information and take a look at the available projects. Fill out the Volunteer Application Form (DOC). The Archivist will respond to your application as soon as possible.
Note: If you are interested in the Russlaender family register project specifically, please contact the archivist directly at email@example.com.
What are the expectations?
- Volunteers under the age of 18 require parental consent.
- Volunteers will be expected to arrive with basic skills appropriate to their tasks. Volunteers will be given any specific training and support they require to complete tasks.
- The archivist will approve volunteers and arrange a mutually-beneficial work plan and schedule. The archivist or designate will supervise volunteers.
- The archivist will familiarize volunteers with the facility, emergency procedures, and health and safety expectations.
- Volunteers will sign in and out.
- Volunteers or the archives may end their agreed commitment at any time. Whenever possible, an end date should be agreed upon by the Archivist and volunteer.
- Volunteers will not generally be given access to secure computer networks, or be asked to work with restricted records.
- Volunteers coming in once a week or more will be given parking passes for the time they are engaged in volunteer work.
- Volunteers are insured under the liability insurance of Conrad Grebel University College.
Russlaender family register digitization and indexing project
Purpose: With the centenary of Russian Mennonite immigration directly to Ontario in 2024, the Archives is undertaking a project to digitize and index hundreds of family register sheets created by Russlaender churches in Ontario. These sheets hold details of the family's migration and their early years in Canada. This is an exciting opportunity to contribute to Mennonite genealogy and research that will illuminate the lives and journeys of these immigrants!
Description of work: Locating the names and life dates of "heads of household" on the register sheets and entering these into a spreadsheet which will be used to create an index. The index will be made available on a website along with scans of the register sheets.
Skills required: Attention to detail. Persistence in reading handwriting, particularly in German. Familiarity with typical Russian Mennonite names is a strong asset. Ability to enter basic data into a spreadsheet is helpful; volunteers could also work in pairs with one reading the text and the other entering the data. Here is an example of a family register sheet, and below is the data entry for that sheet:
Location of work: Volunteers will work primarily at the Archives to get staff support and have access to the print documents. If you are adept at the skills required and have access to a computer, working remotely from scanned sheets could be arranged.
Estimated time of completion: This is an ongoing project which we hope to complete in 2024.
Scanning photographs into our photo database
Purpose: To make more of the Archives’ photograph collection available on the Internet.
Skills required: Attention to detail. Familiarity with common computer tasks. Scanning training is provided. Further training in data input is provided for volunteers interested in learning archival description.
Estimated time of completion: This is an ongoing process, as we have several hundred unscanned photographs at any one time.
Filing and sorting paper records
Purpose: These routine tasks are important because they make archival records more accessible.
Skills required: Attention to detail. Training is provided.
Estimated time of completion: Filing and sorting tasks are available on an ongoing basis.