News and events

November 16, 2016:  MAID shortlisted for the Governor General's History Award for Excellence in Community Programming

MAID was shortlisted for the 2016 Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Community Programming.

The award celebrates “small, volunteer-led community organizations in the creation of innovative programming that commemorates unique aspects of [Canadian] heritage. “ The judges identified MAID as “a very special project since it, in many ways, is helping to bring together a diasporic community” by sharing “heritage across vast distances, but also through the cooperation of archival professionals invested in the community.”

“We feel honoured to be considered for an award in excellence in community programming” says site administrator Laureen Harder-Gissing, “since MAID is all about sharing Mennonite archival treasures with communities worldwide.”

 “By pooling our financial, organizational, and human capital, we found the resources to make MAID a reality” says Conrad Stoesz, chair of the MAID management group.  “The partners include professional and volunteer-run archives. We are inspiring each other to improve the quality of our archival services and build stronger working relationships.”

Volunteers and staff at the eight partner archives are busy scanning and uploading new photos daily, as well as providing verifiable information about each image. As MAID’s reach grows, site visitors reach back to contribute facts and stories, order photographs online, and express their thanks. “The photo you sent me shows real people from the past with real struggles,” wrote a visitor in Tasmania, “MAID is a truly wonderful project.”

Quotes from letters of reference on behalf of MAID to the Award committee:

·         “This innovative database tells stories about our past in unique and innovative ways.”
Hon. Senator V. Peter Harder

·         “The development of the e-commerce module demonstrates the kind of fresh thinking that is the hallmark of this project.”
 Greg Bak, University of Manitoba

·          “[MAID’s photos] not only helped us to interpret history…but they also suggested and opened new research paths.”
Andrea Dyck, Mennonite Village Museum

June 13, 2016: MAID wins Manitoba Day award

 The Mennonite involvement in collecting, preserving, and telling stories about the past is strong in Manitoba.  Of eleven awards, four were given to Mennonites or Mennonite related projects at the Association for Manitoba Archives’ annual Manitoba Day Awards on May 19, 2016.  Manitoba’s new Minister of Sport, Culture and Heritage, The Honourable Rochelle Squires, was in attendance and kicked off the ceremonies.  She noted the important role that archives play in maintaining community memory around the province. Conard Stoesz of the Mennonite Heritage Centre and Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies accepted the award on behalf of MAID. The AMA's Manitoba Day awards events was attended by a modest but enthusiastic crowd at the University of Winnipeg.

January 19, 2016: MAID welcomes new partner Mennonite Library & Archives (Fresno Pacific University)

On the eve of our first anniversary, the Mennonite Archival Image Database (MAID) welcomes the Mennonite Library & Archives at Fresno Pacific University (ML&A)  as our newest archival partner. ML&A is the eighth MAID partner and the first outside Canada, which enhances MAID's vision of being a source for "the discovery of photographs of Mennnonite life from around the world." MAID's eight partners have now collectively uploaded over 81,000 photographic descriptions into our Internet-accessible database (; nearly 17,000 of these have scanned images attached.

ML&A has begun entering photographs into MAID from its rich collections, which consists of tens of thousands of photographs. Highlights include the Henry J. Wiens photographs of Mennonite Brethren church buildings, photographs of Mennonite Brethren congregational life on the west coast of the United States, the Fresno Pacific University photograph collection, and a massive collection of Mennonite Brethren mission photographs from around the world. Kevin Enns-Rempel (library director) and Hannah Keeney (archivist) are coordinating photograph entries from Fresno, which involes selecting images and providing the descriptions that will make them searchable on the Internet.  "These photographs have been available in the archives for many years, but only to those researchers able to visit the archives," says Enns-Rempel. "MAID will make these photographs visible to the world, and will spur interest in the larger archival collections at Fresno."

The Mennonite Library and Archives is one of four North American archival centers for the Mennonite Brethren church in North America. It is located in the Hiebert Library at Fresno Pacific University. The archives hold records of the Pacific District Conference of the Mennonite Brethren Church, Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary, the General Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, Fresno Pacific University, and personal manuscript collections related to the Mennonite Brethren church. In addition to the archival collections, the ML&A also holds an Anabaptist/Mennonite library collection of nearly 17,000 volumes.

The Mennonite Archival Image Database is a project of the Mennonite Historical Society of Canada. It was launched in 2015 by seven original partners: the Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies (Winnipeg), the Mennonite Archives of Ontario, the Mennonite Heritage Centre (Winnipeg), the D. F. Plett Historical Research Foundation, and the Mennonite Historical Societies of Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan.

July 6, 2015: MAID and Canadian Mennonite create new feature

Readers of Canadian Mennonite can look forward to seeing a historical photograph and accompanying short story in every issue of the magazine. "A Moment from Yesterday" will be a regular feature beginning this month. MAID archivists will select the photos and write the stories, which will feature moments from Mennonite history across Canada. "A Moment from Yesterday" can also be viewed on Canadian Mennonite's Viewpoints page:

March 2, 2015: New online Mennonite photo database "shows the future of digital community archives"

After two years of design and development, the Mennonite Archival Image Database (MAID) goes live for public use today at  “Never before has the public had this kind of access to photos from Mennonite archives,” explains  Jon Isaak of the Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies in Winnipeg.  “MAID opens up a host of new possibilities.”  The new tool helps archives manage their photo collections and provides Internet  access to the photos.

The on-line solution is a project of the Mennonite Historical Society of Canada  and includes Mennonite archival partners in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario.  Costs for the project are shared on a sliding scale.  “We could not have undertaken such a large project on our own,” says Mennonite Heritage Centre, Winnipeg director Korey Dyck.  “By working with other partners we were able to pool our financial and intellectual resources.”

Currently MAID holds over  80,000 descriptions of photos and over 9,000 images.  These number will be expanding, explains Laureen Harder-Gissing of the Mennonite Archives of Ontario.  “The technology provided by MAID is energizing our partner archives to digitize our photo collections.  Having all our photos searchable through one source will be a boon for genealogists, historians, and anyone interested in finding out more about Mennonite and Canadian history. Local communities across Canada will also find their histories represented.”

The project is a collaborative, “made in Canada” approach.  The software is an open source code developed by the B.C. company Artefactual, supported by the International Council of Archives, and known as Access to Memory (AtoM).  This AtoM software has become a popular archival tool across Canada.  PeaceWorks Technology Solutions of Waterloo was contracted to customize the code for MAID. Patrons can search, view and order images for non-commercial uses. “This digital tool creates an important link, tying the day-to-day workings of Mennonite archives across the country together in a way previously not done,” says development team member and former Heritage Centre director, Alf Redekopp.  Cooperation will be ongoing as partners will continue to add, develop, manage, and pay for the database.

 “We are already looking to the future,” says development team leader Conrad Stoesz. “MAID can be expanded to include other partners with Mennonite photo collections, new formats such as textual records or sound recordings, or additional sponsors to help us expand our vision.” 

University of Manitoba archives professor Greg Bak is impressed with the project.  “MAID shows the future of digital community archives. By combining their resources, a number of Mennonite organizations have made innovative use of technology to create a platform that allows them to pool their archives and draw together their community, across Canada, in a common, online space.” Bak, the former Senior Digital Archivist at Library and Archives Canada, stated “by using open source code and contributing back to the code base, archives around the world that use AtoM can benefit from the new functionalities created by PeaceWorks for MAID. It is wonderful to