Mennonite Historical Library (Goshen, Indiana, USA)

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The Mennonite Historical Library of Goshen College, in Goshen, Indiana is a research collection of books, pamphlets, periodicals, microfilms, photocopies, manuscripts, maps, pictures, museum items, and other materials relating to Anabaptist and Mennonite history. The collection was begun by action of the Alumni Association of Goshen College in 1906 at the suggestion of C. Henry Smith. Collection of materials began in earnest in 1924, when H. S. Bender and Ernst H. Correll came to the faculty. Since that time the collection has grown steadily through the gifts of books and other materials received from many individuals and agencies, and through purchases with funds allocated from the budget of the Goshen College Library or provided by the Mennonite Historical Society, an organization of Goshen College faculty and students.

From time to time the holdings have been augmented by the accession of large groups of materials representing the personal collections of individuals. Notable among these have been the books and papers of John F. Funk (1835-1930), Elkhart, Indiana, publisher and leader in the Mennonite Church; S. D. Guengerich (1836-1929), Wellman, Iowa, publisher, schoolteacher, and lay leader among the Amish Mennonites (Old Order); W. J. Kühler, professor of church history in the theological faculty of the University of Amsterdam and the Mennonite Seminary there, and librarian of the Library of the United Mennonite Church (Bibliotheek der Vereenigde Doopsgezinde Gemeente) in Amsterdam; and Christian Hege (1869-1943), Frankfurt, Germany, one of the coeditors of the Mennonitisches Lexikon. The most outstanding of these collections, however, is the library collected by John Horsch (1867-1941), Scottdale, PA, the first American Mennonite to devote major time to research in Anabaptist history. This collection, which has been kept separate as a memorial to Horsch, is particularly rich in German and Swiss Reformation history and is of value to those who are studying the Reformation movement in these countries, as well as to the student of Anabaptist and Mennonite history.

In April 1957 the collection contained more than 13,000 books, pamphlets, and bound periodicals. The microfilm collection included approximately 150 items. Among the books and microfilms were 150 items with an imprint date of 1600 or earlier, many of which cannot be found elsewhere in the United States. There were more than 22 vertical file drawers of pamphlets, folders, photocopies, maps, photographs, etchings, engravings, seminars, term papers, manuscripts, and other materials of varying importance. Additional manuscript materials, numbering in the thousands and belonging to the Mennonite Historical Library, were deposited in the Archives of the Mennonite Church.

As the property of Goshen College, the Mennonite Historical Library is administered as part of the Goshen College Library. After 1949 Nelson Springer was in charge of it. In 1957 it was housed in the basement of the Memorial Library Building at Goshen College, occupying one large room, which served as reading room and stacks. Adjacent rooms housed the Archives of the Mennonite Church. The close proximity of these two collections was of mutual benefit to their administration and use. In late 1958 the library and archives were transferred to the new building of the Goshen College Biblical Seminary.

While the users of the Mennonite Historical Library have included many persons from many places, the faculty and students of Goshen College use its resources constantly. The fine quality of scholarship which has characterized the Mennonite Quarterly Review, published by the Mennonite Historical Society of Goshen College since 1927, would have been impossible without the resources of the collection. While H. S. Bender was more active than any other individual in the building of the collection, he also drew most heavily on its resources for his research and editorial work and for his course in Mennonite History in the Goshen College Biblical Seminary. Other men on the Goshen College faculty who did outstanding research in Mennonite history, doctrine, and life have included Ernst H. Correll, Robert Friedmann, Melvin Gingerich, G. F. Hershberger, John Umble, John C. Wenger, Edward Yoder, and S. C. Yoder. The location of the central editorial office of the Mennonite Encyclopedia in an adjoining room enabled the editorial staff to draw constantly on the resources of the collection.


Friedmann, R. "The Mennonite Historical Library of Goshen College." The American-German Review 9, No. 2 (December 1942): 12-14.

Springer, Nelson P. "The Mennonite Historical Library at Goshen College"; "The Holdings of the Mennonite Historical Library." Mennonite Quarterly Review 25 (1951): 296-306, 307-319.

Author(s) Nelson P Springer
Date Published 1957

Cite This Article

MLA style

Springer, Nelson P. "Mennonite Historical Library (Goshen, Indiana, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 23 Jun 2021.,_Indiana,_USA)&oldid=101718.

APA style

Springer, Nelson P. (1957). Mennonite Historical Library (Goshen, Indiana, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 June 2021, from,_Indiana,_USA)&oldid=101718.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, pp. 626-627. All rights reserved.

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