Fonds PP - Katharina Thiessen fonds

Identity area

Reference code



Katharina Thiessen fonds


  • 1878-[191-], [199-] (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

21 cm of textual records
2 sketches

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Katharina Thiessen (1842-1915) was born in the village of Fuerstenau, Molotschna, South Russia to Peter W. Born (1817-1869) and Anna Wall (1816-1873). Katharina went to Germany around 1860 to study midwifery, chiropractic and naturopathic techniques. She came back to South Russia where she married Abraham Karl Thiessen (1840-1910) on September 7, 1862. In 1865 a son Abraham was born to them. This was their only biological child. They later adopted other children including Carolina Buller (1874-), Katharina Dyck (1886-), and Anna Rempel (1897-). In 1874 the Thiesen family immigrated to Hillsboro, Kansas, USA where they began farming and where she continued working as a practical doctor. In 1885 they moved to a parcel of land between the communities of Winkler and Schanzenfeld, Manitoba, Canada. After the founding of the Bergthaler Mennonite church in 1893 they joined that church (register 1 p. 166). In Manitoba Katharina continued her role as a doctor and was well received by most people as she had medical knowledge, experience, and spoke their language (Low German). Eventually a new large house was built where Katharina could have a reception area, pharmacy, operating room, and overnight rooms. After her death this building was converted to an old folks home in 1919, and later this building became property of the Winkler Bible School and was used as the men's dormitory. Dr. Thiessen continued her medical training including by going to Cincinnati, Ohio around 1895 for more training. The doctors in the surrounding towns, while seeing her expertise, were also threatened by her and took her to court not having a Canadian medical license. She did not contest the charge and paid the $50 fine. She continued her practice but focused more on selling Dr. Chase Patent Medicines. She retired from her medical practice after her husband Abraham Thiessen suffered a stroke in 1907.

Archival history

Created and collected by Dr. Katharina Thiessen. Passed on to son Abraham Thiessen (1865-1937), then to his daughter Katharina (Tina) Thiessen (1889-1975) who married Peter H. Hildebrand (1891-1927). Then the materials were passed on to his son Peter R. Hildebrand (1916-2003) the donor.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Peter R. Hildebrand

Content and structure area

Scope and content

This fonds consists of Dr. Thiessen's medical text books and notebooks with her own recipes and treatments. Also included are two large sketches of Katharina and Abraham Thiessen, and research about Dr. Thiessen by Shirley Bergen. This material is very unique as it not only some of the earliest medical materials of the southern Manitoba Mennonites, but it also of a prominent woman physician.

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Language of material

  • English
  • German

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Inventory file list

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Dates of creation revision deletion

By Conrad Stoesz February 7, 2003.




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