The denominational magazines of Mennonite Church USA’s two predecessor organizations, the Mennonite Church (MC) and the General Conference Mennonite Church (GCMC), are now available digitally for free online searching.
Within each volume of the MC’s Gospel Herald (1908–1998) and the GCMC’s The Mennonite (1885–1998), researchers may conduct a full-text search to quickly locate topics and articles.
According to Eileen Saner, director of library services for Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS), these publications are essential primary sources for historical study.
“They trace the history of these two denominations during the decades before they merged [to form Mennonite Church USA],” she says. “The articles, news releases and letters document the challenges they faced, such as increasing engagement with society, civil rights, the Vietnam War, changing peace witness, and worldwide relief and mission activity.”
Only about 10 libraries in North America have print issues of these publications, she notes, adding that the only search tool has been brief indexes published at the end of each annual print volume.
“Online access makes this important material available to researchers worldwide with the convenience of computer-based searching,” she says.
The digitization project is a joint effort of the Anabaptist Mennonite Digital Collaborative, which includes the AMBS Library in Elkhart (Ind.), the Good Library and the Mennonite Historical Library at Goshen (Ind.) College, and the Mennonite Church USA Archives, also in Goshen. The Schowalter Foundation, Newton, Kan., contributed $16,000. Additional funding was provided by all of the Mennonite college and university libraries, and by Anabaptist historical organizations in Pennsylvania, Iowa and Indiana.
“Communities of faith tell stories to know who we are,” says Marci Frederick, director of one of the organizations contributing funding to the project—Hartzler Library at Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Va. “Having Gospel Herald and The Mennonite available online enables more researchers, genealogists and other interested persons to trace 20th-century U.S. Mennonite history, theology, practices and conversations. Thus these words can continue to shape the present church and deepen the stories we tell one another about who we are and hope to be.”
MennoMedia and The Mennonite granted copyright permission for the project. The AMBS Library and Mennonite Historical Library provided staff support and originals for scanning. The digitized volumes were scanned and are hosted by Internet Archive, a not-for-profit digital preservation initiative.
View the online archive: libraryguides.ambs.edu/digital_mennonite_periodicals
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