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Bethel was my window to the world and to myself.
Daniel Hege ’87

Overview of the Archives

The set of record groups (actually one might better call them supergroups) that is listed below was designed for the MLA at some time in the distant past (probably by John F. Schmidt in the 1950s). Although it is far from perfect, we continue to use it because the existing holdings already have been labelled and organized according to it. It was originally meant to be in the form of an outline, although it does not follow the standard outline structure. It was designed to have a place for everything. The Mennonite Library and Archives is one of two official archival repositories for the Mennonite Church USA and the official archival repository for the Western District Conference, and Bethel College.

A place for everything and everything in its place.

  1. General Conference Mennonite Church 1859-1968
  2. GC district conferences and MC USA area conferences
  3. GC-related institutions
    1. Educational
      1. Bethel College
      2. Wadsworth Institute
    2. Caring institutions (hospitals, retirement centers, etc.)
  4. Other Mennonite denominations
  5. Mennonite-related organizations: MCC Central States office, Schowalter Foundation, various mutual aid societies, etc. (130.75 cu. ft.)
  6. Non-church-related organizations (some non-Mennonite): Women's International League for Peace and Freedom local chapter, Kansans Concerned about Vietnam, Buhler Mill corporation, etc.
  7. General Conference Mennonite Church 1969-present
  8. Mennonite Church USA
MS:
Personal manuscript series, over 500 at last count, personal papers (letter, diaries, etc.) of pastors, missionaries, and other leaders, and papers of non-leadership persons and families reflecting everyday Mennonite life
SA: "Small Archives":
accessions of papers from various sources--individuals and organizations-usually not more than 1 folder in bulk, have been put into a separate record group because of the small amount of material in each series
OH: Oral history documentation:
release forms, transcripts, etc. for tape-recorded interviews
CONG: Congregational records:
papers from individual congregations, including membership records, minutes, weekly bulletins, newsletters, yearbooks, reports, etc
Bd.Ms.: Bound manuscripts:
mostly church membership and minute books that should eventually be incorporated into the CONG record group
MLA:
MLA correspondence files and internal archives going back several decades
Images: Photographs:
subject photos and personal photos (portraits), slide collection (35mm), motion picture collection, video tapes, glass lantern slides
Microfilm:
Manuscripts (similar to MS except on microfilm), church records (similar to CONG and Bd.Ms.), ship passenger lists, census returns, nearly complete film of Amsterdam Mennonite archives (microfilmed dissertations and serials are treated as part of library rather than archives)
Microfiche:
Mennonite Sources from IDC (microfiched dissertations and serials are treated as part of library rather than archives)
Art:
Paintings and etchings, mostly by Mennonite artists or of Mennonite-related subjects, originals and reproductions, large collection of Marie Birkholtz-Bestvater paintings, Dutch 19th century, etc.; printed finding aid available