Classification scheme: 

Title: Anna (Neufeld) Tiessen fonds

Dates of creation: 1859-1942 ; predominantly 1900-1917

Physical description: 2 cm of textual records ; 16 photographs ; 5 objects

Biographical sketch: Anna Neufeld (1894-1942) was born in Schoenfeld, South Russia to Gerhard and Helen (Schroeder) Neufeld. She had three siblings including a brother Peter (1893-1919) who was closest in age to her and died young. The children were raised on a large family estate. Anna married Cornelius H. Tiessen, a teacher, in 1918 and moved to the village of Waldheim. Cornelius served on medical trains with the Red Cross during the First World War.

Together the couple had five children. Anna and Cornelius landed in Canada in 1925, settling in Leamington in 1927 where they engaged in farm work. Cornelius assumed leadership roles in the local Mennonite community, with Anna frequently acting as host to visiting church leaders. Her children recall that though life afforded her little free time, she enjoyed singing and accompanying herself on the guitar she brought with her from the Soviet Union. Often in frail health, she died in 1942 at age 47.

Custodial history: Donated to the Archives in 2021 by Trevor Shamas

Scope and content: The fonds consists of notebooks, photographs, and various items brought by Anna Tiessen from the Soviet Union to Canada. Books formerly owned by Anna Tiessen are located in the Milton Good Library.

Notes: Original archival description created 2021 by Laureen Harder-Gissing with the assistance of Trevor Shamas. Notes on guitar supplied by Lisa Bicum from a luthier colleague.

See also "Cornelius H. and Anna Tiessen" in Biographies of Our Late Leaders and Histories of the Mennonite Churches in Essex and Kent Counties.

Photographs in this fonds are digitized and described in the Mennonite Archival Information Database.

The following books owned by Anna Tiessen are located in the Milton Good Library:

The Canadian Readers. Book III. Toronto: T. Nelson & Sons, Ltd., 1924. Inscribed on flyleaf "Helene Thiessen, Winkler." Annotated by former owner(s). This book was probably passed down to Anna Tiessen by Helene Thiessen or another Russian Mennonite immigrant of the 1920s.

Magaret, E. C., and George J. Meyer. Die Kleine Palme. Chicago, Ill: Meyer & Brother, 1895.
Rauschenbusch, Walter, and Ira Allan Sankey. Evangeliums-Sänger. New York: Biglow & Main Co., 1910.

Zimmermann, C. F. Silberklänge : eine Sammlung von Liedern für Sonntagschulen, Jugendvereine und Conventionen. Cleveland, Ohio: Verlagshaus der Evangelischen Gemeinschaft, 1899.

File list:

  1. Locket with two photographs
    Note: Locket contains a photograph of brother Peter Neufeld on right. The photograph at left is probably a portrait of Cornelius Tiessen in his Red Cross uniform.
  2. Prussian coin, 1859
  3. Russian ruble note, 1910
  4. Doily embroidered by Anna Tiessen
  5. Doll's smock sewn by Anna Tiessen
  6. Notebook in German (mostly recipes)
  7. Tagebuch (journal and recipes), 1917
  8. Box of scripture verse cards made in Germany
  9. Family photographs 
  10. Anna Tiessen's guitar (located on oversize shelf)
    Note: Guidar has been identified as having features of the Viennese tradition, very typical of late nineteeth century examples. The seven-string configuration was an eastern European standard, sometimes known as a "Russian guitar."


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

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