Classification scheme: 

Title: Dorothy C. Bean fonds

Dates of creation: 1927-1994

Physical description: 48 cm of textual records ; 5 photographs

Biographical sketch: Dorothy Catherine Bean (1913-1994) was born to Henry "Warren" and Margaret (Axt) Bean in Wilmot Township, one of eight children. One sibling died in infancy and a brother, Norman, died in 1940 at age 17. The family farmed and sold cheese at the Kitchener market for many years.

In 1936 Dorothy graduated from Ontario Mennonite Bible School. This was the beginning of a lifelong participation in learning at many academic institutions. From October 1936 to September 1937, she worked as a cook and maid for J.P. and Laura Livingston at their home "Castle Kilbride" in Baden, Ontario. From 1940-1943, she attended Toronto Bible College while working as a domestic. She was involved with the yearbook and sang in many musical groups.

From 1943-1944 she attended Goshen College in Indiana, and in September 1944 started mission work with the Chicago Home Mission. Here she worked mainly with children's programs and summer camps. In 1952, fellow Ontarian Ida Habermehl from Baden joined the mission.  In 1958, Dorothy graduated from Roosevelt University with a B.A. and began working as a case worker at the Cook County Welfare Agency. Following courses at the Loyolla Graduate School of Social Work, she obtained certification as a medical social worker (1967) and worked in a number of settings in Chicago. During her time in the United States she maintained strong ties to Ontario and took frequent trips home.

Dorothy retired and returned home, becoming the first live-in curator at the Brubacher House Museum on the University of Waterloo campus in 1982. She shared this duty with Ida Habermehl, who had also retired. Dorothy and Ida attended Erb Street Mennonite Church. In 1986, Dorothy and Ida purchased a condominum unit at Eastwood Community in Kitchener. They lived there until Ida's death in 1989 and Dorothy's in 1994.

Custodial history: Donated to the Archives in 2021 by Ralph Bean

Scope and content: The fonds consists mostly of a set of diaries kept by Dorothy Bean with brief but regular entries describing family, work, church, travel and community happenings as well as notes of some events in the wider world. A transcription by Ralph Bean of most of the entries is included.

Notes: Original archival description created 2021 by Laureen Harder-Gissing

File list:

  1. Diaries, 1927-1928, 1930-1994
  2. "Recuerdos of 1014 Blue Island: Ah, Those Were the Days"
    Note: Recollections in verse form of the time Dorothy Bean and Ida Habermehl lived and worked at the building in Chicago which housed the Mennonite Mexican Mission (La Iglesia Evangelica Menonita) and other Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities programs
  3. Photographs
  4. Autograph books, 1934-1935, 1943
    Note: The earlier book contains mostly entries from Ontario Mennonite Bible School; the 1943 book contains entries and photographs from the Toronto Bible School class of 1943
  5. Diary transcriptions by Ralph Bean
  6. Life at Brubacher House, 1982-1986
    1. Photograph album
    2. Letters from schoolchildren
    3. News clippings


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

Phone: 519-885-0220 x24238