Horst, Irvin Buckwalter (1915-2011)

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Irvin B. Horst, 1967.
Source: Eastern Mennonite University Archives

Irvin Buckwalter Horst: Historian of Anabaptism and university professor, was born 31 May 1915 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, USA to Elmer Horst (29 September 1890-18 March 1967) and Catherine Buckwalter Horst (9 November 1884-15 February 1980). He was the fourth child and third son in a family of six children. On 17 June 1944 he married Ava Mae Rohrer (1 April 1917-29 May 1994); together they had three daughters and one son. Irvin Horst died at the Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community in Harrisonburg, Virginia on 23 April 2011.

Horst graduated from the former Eastern Mennonite School in 1939 with a ThB degree in biblical studies and theology; he also earned a BA degree from Goshen College (1949), an MA from the University of Pennsylvania (1951), and a ThD from the University of Amsterdam (1966). His dissertation was on "Anabaptism and the English Reformation to 1558." Irvin also did graduate work at the University of London (1954-55).

In 1946 the Horsts went to the Netherlands to serve with Mennonite Central Committee in postwar relief work. While there Horst began collecting books on Anabaptist/Mennonite history for the historical library at Eastern Mennonite College (now Eastern Mennonite University) and shipped a large box of them to the library. These books bear the signature: "Irvin B. Horst — Trunk — 1948." For the remainder of his active life, he continued collecting for this purpose.

Horst taught Mennonite history and English literature at Eastern Mennonite College from 1955 to 1966 and, while there, was a major influence in developing the collection and policies of the college's Menno Simons Historical Library.

From 1967 to 1985 Horst was the professor of Mennonite history at the University of Amsterdam, filling a newly-created chair. After retirement, he and Ava settled in Lancaster, where she died. In 1998 Irvin relocated to Harrisonburg, Virginia, and to the retirement community in 2003. As long as he was able, he visited the historical library almost daily.

In 1987 Horst was named scholar-in-residence at the Menno Simons Historical Library; subsequently, the special collections room was named for him. In 1992, Eastern Mennonite College released a book, Menno Simons, a Reappraisal, a Festschrift in honor of Horst that featured a compilation of addresses given at a conference on Menno Simons at the college in 1990.

One of Horst's major contributions to Anabaptist scholarship was, and remains, his 1962 Bibliography of Menno Simons, ca. 1496-1561, Dutch Reformer, With a Census of Known Copies. He also published numerous articles and pamphlets and several other books.

Alle Hoekema, writing on behalf of the Dutch Mennonite Church (Algemene Doopsgezinde Societeit Nederland), reflected on Horst's contribution in the Netherlands: "Almost twenty years he served our church in the Netherlands and our seminary in Amsterdam with many skills, a great scholarly knowledge of Mennonite history and with an amiable and humble way of life."


Bishop, Jim. “Long-Time Church Historian, Irvin B. Horst, Dies.” Eastern Mennonite University. 2011. Web. 3 June 2016. http://emu.edu/now/news/2011/04/long-time-church-historian-irvin-b-horst-dies/

Bowman, Lois B. “In Memoriam: Irvin Buckwalter Horst (1915-2011).” Mennonite Quarterly Review 85 (July 2011): 357-358. This GAMEO article is derived, with permission, from the MQR memorial article.

“Irvin B. Horst.” McMullen Funeral Home Obituaries. 2011. Web. 3 June 2016. https://www.meaningfulfunerals.net/fh/obituaries/obituary.cfm?o_id=1710231&fh_id=14433.

“Irvin B. Horst.” SAGA (Swiss Anabaptist Genealogical Association) Genealogical Website. Web. 3 June 2016. http://www.saga-omii.org/TNG10/getperson.php?personID=I35207&tree=Hertzler.

"Prof. dr. I.B. Horst, 1915 - 2011." Album Academicum-Universiteit van Amsterdam." Web. 11 June 2016. http://www.albumacademicum.uva.nl/cgi/b/bib/bib-idx?submit=Sorteer;sort=geboortedatum;c=ap;lang=nl;type=boolean;q1=Horst;rgn1=achternaam;searchtype=prof;cc=ap;view=reslist;fmt=long;page=reslist;size=1;start=3.

Books by Irvin Horst

Horst, Irvin B. A ministry of goodwill : a short account of Mennonite relief 1939-1949. Akron, Pa. : Mennonite Central Committee, 1950.

Horst, Irvin B. A bibliography of Menno Simons, ca. 1496-1561 : Dutch reformer, with a census of known copies. Nieuwkoop : B. de Graaf, 1962.

Horst, Irvin B. Anabaptism and the English Reformation to 1558. Nieuwkoop, B. de Graaf, 1966.

Horst, Irvin B. The radical Brethren : Anabaptism and the English reformation to 1558. Neiuwkoop : De Graaf, 1972.

Horst, Irvin B., et al., eds. De Geest in het geding : opstellen aangeboden aan J. A. Oosterbaan. Alphen aan den Rijn : H.D. Tjeenk Willink, 1978.

Horst, Irvin B., ed. The Dutch Dissenters : a critical companion to their history and ideas, with a bibliographical survey of recent research pertaining to the early Reformation in the Netherlands. Leiden : E.J. Brill, 1986.

Horst, Irvin B., trans. & ed. Mennonite confession of faith : adopted April 21st, 1632, at Dordrecht, the Netherlands, and widely accepted in Germany, France, colonial Pennsylvania, the United States, Canada, and elsewhere. Lancaster, Pa. : Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society, 1988.

Author(s) Lois B. Bowman
Samuel J. Steiner
Date Published June 2016

Cite This Article

MLA style

Bowman, Lois B. and Samuel J. Steiner. "Horst, Irvin Buckwalter (1915-2011)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. June 2016. Web. 21 Apr 2024. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Horst,_Irvin_Buckwalter_(1915-2011)&oldid=165614.

APA style

Bowman, Lois B. and Samuel J. Steiner. (June 2016). Horst, Irvin Buckwalter (1915-2011). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 21 April 2024, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Horst,_Irvin_Buckwalter_(1915-2011)&oldid=165614.

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