Much of the correspondence in this collection consists of letters written by Johann Holdeman to Peter Toews and his wife, 1882-1898, found in the J. I. Penner (JIP) collection from Kleefeld, Manitoba. These letters are all in German. There is also some correspondence to Peter Toews from other people. Much of the material came from collections owned by J. J. Unruh (JJU), Isaac Toews (IT), and some from Lizzie Benson (LB) and from Harry Wenger (HW).
The documents (folders 24-25) of the IT collection are of significance in the pre-migration and immigration to Canada period. They are related to Peter Toews and the Kleine Gemeinde.
In addition to the correspondence, there are also xeroxed copies of three account books: (1) Holdeman’s personal account book (1884ff.) with some record of his animal breeding and trade, planting crops and trees, weather conditions, home remedies, etc.; (2) his Botschafter der Wahrheit record book with subscriber lists, as well as a few miscellaneous items; and (3) his resume of debts, 1899-1900, indicating how he planned to deal with these or, in the event of his death, how they were to be settled. The first two are owned by Lizzie Benson, a granddaughter, and the third by F. H. Wenger.
No originals of these materials are in the MLA. As of 3 October 2000, the locations of all originals is unknown.
The method used in filing the Holdeman material proceeds from the personal to the more general in alphabetical and chronological order as much as possible; and from the material which is directly related to John Holdeman to that related to others. The various sources (LB, JIP, IT, JJU, FHW, and HW), unless the material has been filed under a specific category (e.g., account books, etc.) are filed in alphabetical order: Benson, Penner, Toews, Unruh, Wenger. (The material in ledger 3 of the J. J. Unruh collection, folders 29-33, precedes that of ledger 2.)