Help for congregational historians

Welcome historians of Mennonite Church Eastern Canada congregations! The Archives is here to support your work of preserving and telling your story. In turn, your congregation’s records assist others in discovering the larger Mennonite story. Conrad Grebel University College administers the archives on behalf of the Mennonite constituency.

Find your congregation. Check your congregation's archival descriptions to see which records we already hold. Please note there is often a delay from when records are received to when the inventory is updated. Contact the Archivist if you are wondering if your listing is up to date.

Questions? Contact Archivist Laureen Harder-Gissing, the Mennonite Church Eastern Canada Historian. To learn more about what an archives does, read the what we do page, or arrange a tour for you or members of your congregation. Laureen may be available to visit your church for an on-site consultation if you are dealing with a particularly large backlog, a congregational move or closing, or other complex archival needs.

We aim to provide long-term preservation of your materials in our climate-controlled and fire resistant facility. While digital archiving options continue to advance, printing to paper is still the most stable way to preserve your materials. Except for recordings of church services, we are generally not accepting digital records at this time.

The Big Question: What to Keep?

Here is a list of materials you should consider depositing with the Mennonite Archives of Ontario.

Formal records:

One way to ensure that core materials are coming to the Archives on a regular basis is to gather the following formal records throughout the year, and mail or drop them off to us. Drop offs can be made at the Milton Good Library circulation desk anytime during library hours.

  • Annual report books
  • Annual financial statements We do not usually accept more detailed financial records unless they document an era of the congregation's history that otherwise has few records.
  • Minutes of congregational meetings and meetings of your church's governing council
  • Membership directories/lists
  • Church bulletins. Bulletins provide a weekly record of your congregational life, and may contain information that slips through the cracks in other sources. Some churches also submit funeral bulletins, particularly if they contain short biographies of church members. Programs of special events can also be gathered.

Additional formal records:

  • Standing committees. Some congregations function with a low level of organization, others have numerous committees. Congregations that produce regular annual reports usually capture at least a snapshot of the annual activities of various committees. It is up to each congregation to determine which committee records to commit to archiving.
  • Ad hoc committees often document significant short-term activities or a response to a pressing issue or change. Archiving them can be useful for future congregational decision making as well as historical interest.
  • Deeds, cemetery records or other unique documents requiring safe storage
  • Records of church-run women's or men's organizations, boys or girls clubs, vacation Bible schools, etc.

Informal records:

  • Newsletters
  • Congregational histories (published or unpublished manuscripts)
  • News clippings involving church members
  • Other records that tell the story of your congregation

Photographs and audiovisual records:

  • Sound or video recordings of a typical church service. Our goal is to collect one recording of a sermon by each of your pastors. See our listing here for more information.
  • A sampling of photographs (such as leaders, building changes, special events and scrapbooks). As time allows, the Archives digitizes congregational photographs in our posession and uploads them to the Mennonite Archival Information Database. Search here to see if your congeregation has any photographs listed.

Personal records:

If you know of individuals or families with records that may be of historical interest in the Mennonite community (eg. diaries, letters, photographs, papers of pastors, missionaries or service workers, etc.) please encourage them to contact the Archives.

One more step: update your GAMEO article


Generally 9:00 am - 4:00 pm Monday to Friday. An appointment in advance is recommended.


Mennonite Archives of Ontario
Conrad Grebel University College
140 Westmount Road North
Waterloo, ON N2L 3G6

Phone: 519-885-0220 x24238