© Mennonite Heritage Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba (Last updated February 17, 2003)

Thiessen, Katharina, 1842-1915

Retrieval numbers: Textual volumes 4588:4, 5026-5028, photograph collection number 579.

Title: Katharina Thiessen fonds
Dates: 1878-[191-], [199-]
Extent: 21 cm of textual records
Extent: 2 sketches
Repository: Mennonite Heritage Centre Archives

Historical note

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.

Scope and content note

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.

Index terms

Subject terms

·  Thiessen, Katharina, 1842-1915

·  Thiessen, Abraham K., 1840-1910


·  Thiessen, Katharina, 1842-1915

·  Thiessen, Abraham K., 1840-1910

Adjunct descriptive data

Finding aids

File list available


Custodial history

The materials were passed down through the family to son Abraham then to daughter Katharina (Tina) Thiessen who married Peter H. Hildebrand. Then the materials were passed on to a son Peter R. Hildebrand who donated the materials on January 15, 2003. Some research material was deposited by author Shirley Bergen in 1997.


German and English

Restrictions on access

No restrictions

Other notes

Arranged and described by Conrad Stoesz February 7, 2003. Accession numbers: 1997-080, 2003-013.

File List:

Volume 4588 Small Archives

4. Katharina Thiessen (nee Born). – [199-].


VOLUME   5026        Katharina Thiessen fonds

1 Dr. med. H.R. Stout, Unser Familien Arzt. Ein Noth und Hilfsbuch in Kranken Tagen,

  Milwaukee, Wis.: Verlag von Georg Brumder, 1883. -- Note: this book has no cover

  and is in poor condition.

2 Medical book with forward by F.E. Bilz, fourth printing in 1888. --- Note: this book

  has no cover or title page and is in poor condition.  A loose page has the inscription

  "Katharina Thieszen in Hillsboro, Kansas Nordamerica 1884".

3 John Linden, Lehrbuch der Exanthematischen Heilmethode auch bekannt unter dem

  Namen Baunscheidtismus, Cleveland, Ohio, 1878. -- Note: the inscription in thr front

  states that this book was presented by an unknown person to Diedrich Gaeddert on the

  same day that his wife died; Maria Martens on July 4, 1878.

4 Clemens Gerke, Die Naturheillehre des Johann Scroth oder ausführliche Anweisung

  ohne Arznei die Gebrechen des menschlichen Körpers zu heilen.  Die Besonderen

  Krankheiten der Frauen und Jungfrauen, Verlag von Theobald Grieben, Berlin. -- [189-


VOLUME   5027        Katharina Thiessen fonds

1 Medical book with no cover or title page.  Eighth printing and forward written by Dr. S.

  Meyer. -- Note: Book is in poor condition.        

2 Arzneibuch für das Deutsche Reich. Dritte Ausgabe (Pharmacopoea Germanica), Berlin,           1895. -- Note: this book has no cover and is in poor condition.

3 Dr. A.W. Chase, Recepte von Dr. Chase oder Belehrung für Jedermann, eine sehr

  werthvolle Sammlung von ungefähr 800 praktischen Recepten, Ann Arbor Michigan,

  1881. -- Note: This book has no cover and is in poor condition.

4 Lehrbuch der Geburtshülfe für die Preußischen Hebammen, Berlin, 1878. -- Note: this

  book has no cover and is in poor shape.

5 Carl Emil Buss, über Wesen und Behandlung Fiebers.  Klinisch Experimentelle

  Untersuchungen, Stuttgart, 1878. -- Note: this book is in very poor condition with

  broken binding and deteriorating pages.


VOLUME   5028        Katharina Thiessen fonds

1 Frau Henriette Davidis, Praktisches Kochbuch für die Deutschen in Amerika,

  Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1879.

2 Arzneibuch für das Deutsche Reich Dritte Ausgabe (Pharmacopoea Germanica), Berlin


3 Pharmacopoea Germanica, Berlin, 1882. -- Note: This book is in poor condition

  especially the first ca. 10 pages.

4 Dr. Katharina Thiessen note book of recopies, book A. -- [190-?]. -- Note: this book is

  17 x 20 cm and has a red white and blue wavy line cover.

5 Dr. Katharina Thiessen note book of recipes. -- [190-?]. -- Note: this book is 10 x 16

  cm and has a black cover.

6 Dr. Katharina Thiessen note book of recipes. -- [190-?]. -- Note: this book is 10 x 16

  cm and has a red cover with Mrs. Tiessen on the cover.

7 Materials collected and created by Shirley Bergen regarding Dr. Katherine Thiessen. 

  Included are copies of letters by Thiessen published in newspapers, photocopied family

  photos and documents,  6, 4, and 1 page articles about the life of Dr. Thiessen written

  by Bergen. -- [199-].

8 Prescriptions, recipes/ Katherine Thiessen. -- [189-]. -- Note: these are loose pages,

  some came from in between pages of books.

9 Jacob Martens family register of children. -- [191-?]. -- Note: Jacob Martens (1871- )

  married Karolina Buller (1874- ).  Karolina's foster parents were Abraham Thiessen and

  Dr. Katharina Born.




Photograph Collection           579      Katharina Thiessen fonds

579:1   Sketch of Katharina (Born) Thiessen. - [189-?]. - 40 x 51 cm [b&w].

This photo is a [pencil?] sketch of Katharina (Born) Thiessen (1842-1915). -- Note:  there is some deterioration with the brown spots on the top of the sketch.  this item will be placed in the oversized

579:2   Sketch of Abraham K. Thiessen. - [189-?]. - 40 x 51 cm [b&w].

This photo is a [pencil?] sketch of Abraham Thiessen (1840-1910). -- Note: this item will be placed in the oversized collection.