The Historical Committee of the General Conference Mennonite Church was the continuation of the Mennonite Historical Society (Association) and was the official General Conference organ to "collect, preserve, and make available for research, materials of historical and cultural value to Mennonites." It was "responsible for preserving and maintaining places and items of historical and cultural significance" and was to "promote Mennonite research and recommend desirable materials for publication" (revised constitution of the General Conference Mennonite Church, 1950).
The Historical Committee came into being when the Mennonite Historical Society, which was an independent association within the General Conference since 1911, but always reported at conference sessions, recommended in 1938 that a "standing committee" be created to be responsible for historical interests of the conference and of a Mennonite Historical Institute, which was to be created. As a result the Executive Committee of the conference appointed four members to the Historical Committee, which met for the first time 11 July 1939. Although the Mennonite Historical Institute was not realized, the newly created Historical Committee gradually took over the work and the collections of the Mennonite Historical Society. The new Historical Committee was, at the beginning, directly responsible to the Executive Committee of the conference, but after the adoption of the revised constitution of the conference in 1950 it functioned under the Board of Education and Publication, which appointed its members, approved the budget, and of which a member served as chairman of the committee. The materials collected by the former Mennonite Historical Society were taken over by the Historical Committee and were now located mostly in the vault of the Mennonite Library and Archives at Bethel College, which houses material of the conference, as well as of its own historical collection. The documents, collected mostly by H. R. Voth and H. P. Krehbiel, pertained, as a rule, to the Mennonites living in the prairie states.
The new Historical Committee, originally under the guidance of A. Warkentin, was active in collecting, cataloguing, and binding materials which were obtained through donations and purchase. Among the projects carried out by the Committee in the mid-20th century were (a) the working out of a plan by which the grounds and the church building of the Germantown Mennonite Church would be safeguarded and remain a Mennonite historical marker, (b) the microfilming of Anabaptist and Mennonite documents in this country (church records, diaries, correspondence) and abroad (archives containing Anabaptist materials in Holland, Germany, Austria, and others), (c) helping to finance the publication of the Täuferakten, (d) publishing the Mennonite Historical Series (From the Steppes to the Prairies, L. Harder, Plockhoy from Zierik-zee, etc.). The Historical Committee also helped the Mennonite historical libraries of the Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Chicago, Bluffton College, and Bethel College purchase rare Mennonitica. In 1956 the members of the committee were Don. E. Smucker, chairman; Cornelius Krahn, secretary; and Delbert Gratz, Gerhard Lohrenz, and D. J. Unruh.
Cite This Article
Krahn, Cornelius. "Historical Committee of the General Conference Mennonite Church." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 26 Jan 2015. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Historical_Committee_of_the_General_Conference_Mennonite_Church&oldid=95266.
Krahn, Cornelius. (1956). Historical Committee of the General Conference Mennonite Church. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 26 January 2015, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Historical_Committee_of_the_General_Conference_Mennonite_Church&oldid=95266.
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