Classification scheme: 
Hist. Mss. 1.197

Title: Nancy-Lou Patterson fonds

Dates of creation: 1964, 1974-1990, 1999

Physical description: 100 cm of textual records and photographs ; 1 painting

Biographical sketch: Nancy-Lou Patterson was born 5 September 1929 in Worcester, MA. She received her BA in Fine Arts from the University of Washington in 1951, afterwards working for two years as a scientific illustrator at the University of Kansas and at the Smithsonian and then for nine years as a lecturer at Seattle University. In 1962 she moved to the Waterloo Region with her husband, Dr. E. Palmer Patterson, who was to teach at the University of Waterloo. In addition to her position as Director of Art and Curator of the University's art gallery, in 1966 Professor Patterson taught the University of Waterloo's first Fine Arts course, and in 1968 she founded the Department of Fine Arts, twice serving as Department Chair (1968-1974, 1979-1982). She became an Associate Professor in 1972 and full Professor in 1981.

After moving to the Region of Waterloo, Nancy-Lou Patterson became very interested in the culture and artistic expression of the Mennonite community found in the area. She studied the traditional arts of Pennsylvania German Mennonites, as well as those of Dutch/Russian background. She wrote extensively on these groups, and mounted several major exhibitions of Mennonite traditional art.

Nancy-Lou Patterson's own artistic work included a series of stained glass windows designed in 1964 for Conrad Grebel Chapel at the University of Waterloo. 

In 1993 Nancy-Lou Patterson was named "Distinguished Professor Emerita" by the University of Waterloo, and in the same year received an honorary doctor of letters degree from Wilfrid Laurier University in recognition of "a life dedicated to expression." 

Custodial history: Donated to the Archives by Nancy-Lou Patterson, with the exception of obituary news clippings accrued in 2018. Painting donated by family in 2022.

Scope and Contents: The fonds located at the Mennonite Archives of Ontario consists of material documenting Nancy-Lou Patterson's research, writing and exhibitions related to the Mennonites of Waterloo Region.

Notes: A major collection of Nancy-Lou Patterson's academic and artistic work is included in the Nancy-Lou Patterson fonds in the Rare Book Room at the University of Waterloo in Collection GA93.

There are six series in the fonds: 1) Interview / research notes (including handwritten notes and photographs of art pieces), 2) Research notes and drafts papers for publications on Mennonite themes, 3) Research notes and correspondence for exhibitions on Mennonite themes, and 4) Miscellaneous correspondence; 5) Clippings & Periodicals 6) Other

Original archival description created March 2002 by Sam Steiner

File list:

Series 1: Interview/Research Notes

A Curriculum Vitae dated 1982 is included at the beginning of this series.

  1. Quilt research, notes, correspondence about individual quilts, mostly 1970s
  2. Dutch German Mennonite needlework, quilts, wood, cooking research notes and descriptions of individual craftspersons, ca. 1976
  3. Swiss German Mennonite decoration, mats, carpets, quilts, fraktur, paper, wood, cooking research notes and descriptions of individual craftspersons, ca. 1976
  4. Fences -- collection of notes and photographs of fences (20+ photographs)
  5. Food (six photographs)
  6. Bauman, Lovina Hoffman (hooked mats, 3 photographs)
  7. Bearinger, Elizabeth Smith (quilting)
  8. Bergen, Annie (baking, 1 photograph)
  9. Bowman, Israel (weaver, 2 photographs)
  10. Bowman, Noah (hooked mats, 3 photographs)
  11. Braun, Hella (doll-making, 9 photographs)
  12. Cascaden, Ron & Wendy (Levi Shantz house, 26 photographs)
  13. Dick, Agatha Peters (needlework, 14 photographs)
  14. Dick, Elfrieda Klassen & Jacob (needlework, woodwork, 12 photographs)
  15. Dwyer, Ruth (informant)
  16. Dyck, Elizabeth Fehderau (needlework, 12 photographs)
  17. Frey, Elsie & Sidney (quilting, rugs, painting, 25 photographs)
  18. Gerber, Dan (wooden animals, 8 photographs)
  19. Heipel, Anna (crocheting, 22 photographs)
  20. Herrfort, Mary, Esther, Lydia & Sarah (garden, etc. 14 photographs)
  21. Horst, Elva (pumpkin heads, 15 photographs)
  22. Hunsberger, Minnie Witmer (paper cutting, folding, 4 photographs)
  23. Kalbfleisch, Harry (Nancy Rudy needle point, 5 photographs)
  24. Kramer, Phyllis (paper cutting, 6 photographs)
  25. Latyn, Kathe Reimer (needlework, 5 photographs)
  26. Langeman, Katherine Bergen (baking, 15 photographs)
  27. Letkemann, John & Irma (wood carving, gothic lettering)
  28. Litwiller, Ruby Schiedel (butter carving, 2 photographs)
  29. Martin, Alice Bearinger & Aden  (Garden, 6 photographs)
  30. Martin, Alice Drudge, 1976 (butter sculpture, 21 photographs)
  31. Martin, Allen D. (Linwood School, Student calendar art)
  32. Martin, Amsey & Mabel, 1979 (Garden, 18 photographs)
  33. Martin, Fanny Snyder (hooked mats)
  34. Martin, Mary & Henry (garden, quilts, 22 photographs)
  35. Martin, Minerva, 1978
  36. Martin, Moses & Hannah Weber (old Bible, 25 photographs)
  37. Martin, Salome (quilting)
  38. Martin, Simeon, 1978
  39. Neufeld, Ruth, Susan, Tina & Paul (needlework, furniture, 13 photographs)
  40. Reimer, Mary Toews (informant, 1 photograph)
  41. Roth, Barbara Martin (quilting, 6 photographs)
  42. Shantz, Orvie family (wood, fraktur, 25 photographs)
  43. Shantz. Susannah (fraktur, 3 photographs)
  44. Shoemaker, Anna (quilting, 10 photographs)
  45. Sittler, Esther (9 photographs, 1 slide)
  46. Sittler, Lydia Bowman (baking, 22 photographs)
  47. Snider, Daniel (Yard Art, 9 photographs)
  48. Snyder, Bea Miller (butter carving, 8 photographs)
  49. Swartz, Katherine Fehderau (needlework)
  50. Thiessen, Maria Klassen (needlework, 16 photographs)
  51. Toews, Maria Klassen (needlework, 46 photographs)
  52. Weber, Pat King (informant, 28 photographs)
  53. Wiens, Katherine Sudermann (needlework)
  54. Wiens, Lili Klassen (needlework, 8 photographs)

Series 2: Research notes and drafts of papers for publication

  1. "Folk Art and Primitive Art: Definitions," Unpublished manuscript, early 1970s
  2. "Mennonite Traditional Arts of the Waterloo Region and Southern Ontario." Unpublished manuscript, 1974
  3. "Anna Weber hat das gemacht." Mennonite Life, 1975
  4. "Im Zeichen der Zwillinge." Waterloo Historical Society, 1975
  5. "Mennonite Traditional Arts of the Waterloo Region." 1975 (text for Pennsylvania German dinner at Conrad Grebel College)
  6. "Ethnic Contrasts Observed: Dutch-German and Swiss-German Traditional Arts in the Waterloo Region." Unpublished manuscript. 1976
  7. Folk Sculpture, U.S.A. by Herbert W. Hemphill (Review in Candian Art Review). 1976.
  8. "The Iconography of the Show Towel." Waterloo Historical Society, 1976
  9. "Quilts in Mennonite Life." Canada Quilts, 1976?
  10. "The Flowering of Southern Ontario Mennonite Fraktur." Multiculturalism, 1977
  11. "A Four-Generation Family Fraktur Tradition in the Waterloo Region, Ontario." Presentation, Universities Art Association of Canada, 1977
  12. "Log Cabin Quilts: a Collector's Guide." Canadian Collector, 1977
  13. Mennonite Furniture by Linda Musson Nykor (Foreword by Patterson, 1977)
  14. "Mennonite Folk Art of Waterloo County," with Michael Bird and J. Winfield Fretz. Unpublished manuscript, 1978
  15. Untitled quilt manuscript, ca. 1978
  16. "Paradise Gardens: the Visual Symbols," Manuscript, 1978?
  17. "Flowers in the Meadow: the Paper Cuttings of Elizabeth Johns Stahley (1845-1930)." Mennonite Life, 1979.[Includes approx. 29 photographs]
  18. "Mennonite Folk Art of Southern Ontario," with Michael Bird and J. Winfield Fretz. Unpublished manuscript, 1979
  19. "Imagery of Paradise in Swiss-German Mennonite Folk Art." Manuscript, 1979?
  20. Later draft of no. 18 above, 1979
    20a. Swiss-German and Dutch-German Mennonite Traditional Art, notes, 1970s
    20b. Correspondence and contract re: book, 1976-1977
    20c. "Swiss-German and Dutch-Mennonite Mennonite Traditional Art," Manuscript, 1978?
  21. "Nine-Patch: Nine Quilts from Waterloo Region Collections (1897-1978): Manuscript for exhibit at Cambridge Public Library, 1980
  22. "Ethnicity and Style: Amish-Mennonite Folk Art of the Waterloo Region, Ontario," Typescript and notes, 1981 (see #28)
  23. "Christmas in Paradise," Past & Present (December 1982) & "Green Santas, Plum Pudding and Spritzen : Swiss, German, British and Ukrainian Christmas traditions are all current in Waterloo County, Ontario"Canadian Collector (Nov./Dec. 1981).
  24. "Barn-Framer and Farmer," Canadian Collector (Sept/Oct., 1982)
  25. "Meditative Hearts: Heart Symbolism in Mennonite Folk Art of Southern Ontario," Waterloo Historical Society, 1982.
  26. "Mennonite Georgian: the Joseph Schneider Haus, Kitchener, Ontario," with Susan Burke, Canadian Collector(1983)
  27. "Mennonite Quilts," Lecture notes, 1983
  28. Wreath & Bough: Decorative Arts of Amish-Mennonite Settlers in Waterloo County (Waterloo, ON: Ontario German Folklife Society, 1983), includes typescript.
  29. "A Wire Fence Around the House: Fencing Traditions of Waterloo County Swiss-German Mennonite Settlers,"Waterloo Historical Society, 1983.
  30. "Mennonite Hooked Mats of Waterloo County," Ontario Hooking Craft Guild 1983 Annual, includes 4 pictures.
  31. "Paradiesgrtlein: Waterloo County Gardens and Garden Ornaments in the Germanic Tradition," Text for Exhibit at Schneider Haus, 1983.
  32. "Nineteenth Century Mennonite Culture," Notes for talk to Ontario Historical Society, 1983.
  33. "See the Vernal Landscape Glowing: the Symbolic Landscape of the Swiss-German Mennonite Settlers in Waterloo County," Mennonite Life (December 1983)
  34. "Mennonite Quilts of Waterloo County, Ontario," Rough notes and correspondence for Calgary Quilt Conference, 1983.
  35. Review of A Splendid Harvest and Ontario Fraktur by Michael Bird for German-Canadian Yearbook, 1983.
  36. Caption for Anna Weber fraktur at the Stone Crock restaurant, 1984
  37. "Landscape and Meaning: Structure and Symbolism of the Swiss-German Mennonite farmstead of the Waterloo Region, Ontario," Canadian Ethnic Studies, 1984.
  38. "Symbolism in Mennonite Folk Art," Typescript, 1981/1984.
  39. "Bush Garden or Little Paradise : Reconsideration of a Canadian Landscape Image in Waterloo County, Ontario," Typescript, 1984.
  40. "Landscape and Meaning : Structure and Symbolism of the Swiss-German Mennonite Farmstead of Waterloo Region, Ontario," Canadian Ethnic Studies, 1984.
  41. "Waterloo Region Gardens in the Germanic Tradition," Material History Bulletin, 1984.
  42. "Handschriften: Handwritten Forms in Germanic Waterloo County," Exhibit at Joseph Schneider Haus, 1984
  43. "Paradiesgrtlein: Waterloo County Gardens in the Germanic Traditions," Typescript, 1985
  44. "Mennonite Mandalas," Typescript, 1985?
  45. "In Thy Holy Place: a Model of the Tabernacle of Israel, Made by Students of S.F. Coffman, Ontario Bible Institute," Mennogesprch, 1985
  46. "Folk Art," lecture notes for Ontario Folklore Conference, 1987
  47. "Settlers in Paradise: Mennonite Folk Art of Waterloo County," New Quarterly, 1990
  48. "Hearts and flowers," Canadian Antiques. v.1 n.8, 1980
    "Mennonite gardens," Canadian Antiques and Art Review. v.1. n.9, Jun 1980
    "Be fruitful and multiply : Swiss-German Mennonite quilts in Waterloo County, Ontario, 1875-1975," Canadian Antiques and Art Review, v.1 n.6, Mar 1980.

Series 3: Research notes and drafts of papers for exhibitions on Mennonite themes

  1. Mennonite Folk Art Exhibit, University of Waterloo Art Gallery, 1966
  2. Mennonite Traditional Arts of the Waterloo Region and Southern Ontario, Kitchener Waterloo Art Gallery, 1974 - Correspondence, printed guide
  3. Mennonite Traditional Arts of the Waterloo Region and Southern Ontario, Kitchener Waterloo Art Gallery, 1974 - Draft of captions for exhibit items
  4. Mennonite Traditional Arts of the Waterloo Region and Southern Ontario, Kitchener Waterloo Art Gallery, 1974 - Exhibit Item Loan forms
  5. The Language of Paradise, London Regional Art Gallery, 1985 - Early Correspondence, 1982-1984
  6. The Language of Paradise, London Regional Art Gallery, 1985 - Holograph lists of potential donors, 1984?
  7. The Language of Paradise, London Regional Art Gallery, 1985 - Holograph lists of categories, possible contents of exhibit, 1984?
  8. The Language of Paradise, London Regional Art Gallery, 1985 - Correspondence, lists of donor & items, loan forms, 1985
  9. The Language of Paradise, London Regional Art Gallery, 1985 - Early draft of exhibit catalog sections, 1985?
  10. The Language of Paradise, London Regional Art Gallery, 1985 - Photographs, contact sheets (includes both items exhibited and pictures taken as exhibit was put in place), 1985
  11. The Language of Paradise, London Regional Art Gallery, 1985 - Draft of Exhibit Catalog, May, 1985
  12. The Language of Paradise, London Regional Art Gallery, 1985 - Exhibit Catalog

Series 4: Miscellaneous Correspondence

  1. Correspondence, 1975-1988
  2. Correspondence with James Nyce; photocopy of his MA thesis, 1977-1984
  3. Correspondence with Yael Hoz re: Papercutting, 1983

Series 5: Clippings and Periodicals

Original copies of periodicals collected by Patterson, most including articles on Mennonite themes, have been transferred to the Conrad Grebel Rare Periodical Collection. These titles include: Past & Present; Circa 76: a Journal of Antiques and Art in Canada; Canada Quilts; and Newsletter of the Society for German-American Studies.

  1. Clippings (Photocopies), 1970s-1980s
  2. Clippings (Originals), 1966-1985

Series 6: Other

  1. Misc. offprints, exhibit brochures, etc.
    Note: Includes obituary news clippings, 2018
  2. Student papers from Mennonite Folk Art class, 1974
  3. Drawings of Conrad Grebel College Chapel Windows by the designer, 1964 (Located in map case)
  4. "Laundry day," 1999.
    9 x 13 cm (sight in frame), tempra on board. - Donated to the Archives in 2022 by her daughter Fanny.


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