April 7, 2020.
The online Mennonite Archival Information Database (MAID) (https://archives.mhsc.ca/) is adding five new institutional partners to the existing nine. The newly expanded database features thousands of historic photos and a quickly expanding number of entries describing one-of-a-kind letters, diaries, meeting minutes, travel documents, biographies, audio and video recordings, and more – all accessible to the public.
The new members are Mennonite Central Committee [Canada (Winnipeg, MB) and USA (Akron, PA)], Mennonite Church USA Archives (Elkhart, IN), Bethel College Mennonite Library and Archives (North Newton, KS), Pacific Northwest Mennonite Historical Society (Hubbard, OR), and Goshen College Archives (Goshen, IN). The four American archival collections were featured in the “Mennonite Archival Commons” online project but are migrating their data to MAID.
Jason Kauffman of Mennonite Church USA archives in Elkhart, IN, said, “MAID provides an opportunity to join forces with an established consortium with broad institutional support and a common goal of making information and content from our collections more accessible to the public.”
Chantel Fehr and Frank Peachy of Mennonite Central Committee agree. “We are thrilled to work together with other institutions that are committed to preserving the records that document Mennonite history through the Mennonite Archival Information Database.”
The online archive was founded by Canadian partners in 2015 as a photographic database to help archival institutions manage their collections and provide public access to historic material. “When MAID was launched, we dreamed about its potential to include more Mennonite partners. We are thrilled that other archives have also seen this and look forward to collaborating with them to provide an enhanced online service to anyone wanting to explore Mennonite history,” says MAID site administrator Laureen Harder-Gissing of the Mennonite Archives of Ontario.
With the power of a central database that can link records in multiple repositories together, researchers will benefit from new leads and resources. In a world of shrinking institutional budgets, a cooperative approach that pools financial and human resources is vital. The database is not only for researchers but as John Thiesen of Bethel College hopes “it might contribute to a closer interaction among the North American Mennonite archives and historical libraries.” Kauffman is appreciative of the development of MAID. “I hope that we can build on the amazing work that MAID has already accomplished and eventually share more content from our collections online, including audio records, video, and documents.” Visitors to the site can expect to see MAID’s content expand over the next few months.