Classification scheme: 
Hist. Mss. 1.117

Lorraine Roth

Title: Lorraine Roth fonds 

Dates of creation: 1923-2012

Physical description:  6 m of textual records; 135 photographs

Biographical sketch: Lorraine Marie Roth (1930-2013) grew up on a farm in South Easthope Township, Ontario, the daughter of Sydney and Violet (Brenneman) Roth. Her home congregation was East Zorra Mennonite Church. She attended Rockway Mennonite School, graduating in 1949. After two years of teaching in a country school, she attended Goshen College in Indiana. In 1952 she travelled to Switzerland to attend the Mennonite World Conference. In 1954, after graduating with a BA from Goshen, she accepted an assignment with the Eastern Mennonite Board of Missions and spent a year learning Spanish in Costa Rica followed by several years of teaching in a primary school in rural Honduras. Following two years at Goshen Biblical Seminary, she graduated with a Masters in Religious Education in 1964. Returning to Ontario, she was employed at Provident Bookstore in Kitchener and later Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo. 

Roth's genealogical interests were sparked during her high school years when a Brenneman family reunion inspired her to create her first family tree. She published the first of many genealogies in 1963. She travelled to Europe again in 1969-1970 to do intensive genealogical research, while paying her way doing secretarial work for the Mennonite Board of Missions and Mennonite Central Committee. Other European research trips followed in 1985 and 1992.

Three books, 150 Years: the sesquicentennial of the Amish Mennonites of Ontario, Willing service: stories of Ontario Mennonite women, and The Amish and their neighbours: the German Block, Wilmot Township cemented her reputation as a historian, particularly of the Amish Mennonite community in Ontario. After retirement she devoted most of her time to genealogical and historical research and writing. She published numerous articles and was often asked to consult on historical and genealogical projects.

Lorraine was the recipient of the 2010 Mennonite Historical Society of Canada Award of Excellence. The Lorraine Roth Reading Room at the Mennonite Archives of Ontario, opened in 2014, was named in her honour.

In a questionnaire in 2007, Roth was asked "What do you wish you had done?" to which she replied, "I generally did what I wanted to do and left nothing pressing to be done." In answer to "What would you still like to do?" she responded, "I hope to continue to fine-tune and organize my files and hope that others will carry on."

Custodial history: The collection was donated to the Mennonite Archives of Ontario at various times by Lorraine Roth. Two major donations were made in 2008 and 2011.

Notes: Original description created by Sam Steiner; revised by Laureen Harder-Gissing in 2015 and 2020.
In 2020, Bruce Jantzi created a website based on Lorraine Roth's genealogical summaries:

File list:

There are seven series in the fonds:

  1. Genealogy summaries
  2. Willing Service notes
  3. Amish and Their Neighbours notes
  4. Research files
  5. Personal files
  6. Photographs of Mennonite properties in Waterloo Region and Oxford County (located in the Mennonite Archival Image Database)
  7. Scrapbooks and photograph albums
  8. Funeral cards and bulletins
    1. Funeral cards collected by Lorraine Roth, 1917-2009
    Note: An index was created by Helen Brenneman
    2. Funeral bulletins collected by Lorraine Roth, ca. 1979-2004, 2008
  9. Realia
    1. The Jacob and Lydia (Leonard) Brenneman Family Tree, [1950].

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Mennonite Archives of Ontario
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