By MC USA staff
(Mennonite Church USA Archives, ELKHART, Ind.) — Mennonite Church USA (MC USA) Archives is one of five new partners to join the recently expanded Mennonite Archival Information Database (MAID). The database now represents a total of 14 partners and features thousands of historic photos and a quickly growing number of entries describing one-of-a-kind letters, diaries, meeting minutes, travel documents, biographies, audio and video recordings, and more – all accessible to the public.
Other new members are Mennonite Central Committee in Canada (Winnipeg, Manitoba) and USA (Akron, Pennsylvania), Bethel College Mennonite Library and Archives (North Newton, Kansas), Pacific Northwest Mennonite Historical Society (Hubbard, Oregon), and Goshen College Archives (Goshen, Indiana). The four American archival collections were featured in the “Mennonite Archival Commons” online project but are migrating their data to MAID. Integration of the MC USA archival records will be completed in a few weeks. Until then, all records will remain searchable at the current MC USA Archives site.
“MAID provides an opportunity to join forces with an established consortium with broad institutional support and a common goal of making information and content from our collections more accessible to the public,” said Jason Kauffman, director of archives and records management of MC USA Archives.
Chantel Fehr and Frank Peachy of Mennonite Central Committee agree: “We are thrilled to work together with other institutions that are committed to preserving the records that document Mennonite history through MAID.”
The online archive was founded by Canadian partners in 2015 as a photographic database to help archival institutions manage their collections and provide public access to historic material.
“When MAID was launched, we dreamed about its potential to include more Mennonite partners. We are thrilled that other archives have also seen this and look forward to collaborating to provide an enhanced online service to anyone wanting to explore Mennonite history,” says Laureen Harder-Gissing, MAID site administrator of the Mennonite Archives of Ontario.
With the power of a central database that can link records in multiple repositories together, researchers will benefit from new leads and resources. In a world of shrinking institutional budgets, a cooperative approach that pools financial and human resources is vital. The database is not only for researchers but, as John Thiesen of Bethel College said, it might contribute to a closer interaction among the North American Mennonite archives and historical libraries.”
Kauffman is appreciative of the development of MAID: “I hope that we can build on the amazing work that MAID has already accomplished and eventually share more content from our collections online, including audio records, video, and documents.”
Visitors to the site can expect to see MAID’s content expand over the next few months.
Mennonite Church USA is the largest Mennonite denomination in the United States with 16 conferences, approximately 530 congregations and 62,000 members. An Anabaptist Christian denomination, MC USA is part of Mennonite World Conference, a global faith family that includes churches in 86 countries. It has offices in Elkhart, Indiana and Newton, Kansas. mennoniteUSA.org