Remembering the Mennonite-Armenian relationship

Colleen McFarland is director of archives and records management for Mennonite Church USA. April 2015 marks the centennial of the Armenian Genocide (1915-1923). Armenians, a Middle Eastern people who embraced Christianity in the early fourth century, suffered persecution and pogroms under Ottoman rule in the late nineteenth century. After the outbreak of World War I, […]

Awkward Mennonite photos

Compiled by Colleen McFarland, director of the Mennonite Church USA Archives.  As someone who not only loves all things historical, but also appreciates a good laugh, I am a big fan of the Awkward Family Photos blog. If you are not familiar with this blog, it features thousands of unfortunate family portraits and snapshots commemorating […]

Why a John Howard Yoder digital library?

By Colleen McFarland The recent announcement of the completion of the John Howard Yoder Digital Library, a collaborative project undertaken by the Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary Library, the Mennonite Church USA Archives, and the Mennonite Historical Library, provoked strong reactions. Public comment on news releases and private messages to members of the John Howard Yoder […]

Cooking up history: recipes in the archives

By Colleen McFarland Those of you who know me personally know that I am always on the lookout for interesting recipes to try. At work in the archives, I take special note of collections that contain recipes and sometimes spend a little time searching for hidden culinary delights. Given the enduring – and perhaps growing […]

History in living color

By Colleen McFarland Do you remember the first time you saw World War II era color photographs, perhaps of American or German soldiers, or of “Rosie the Riveter” at work in an American factory?  I do, and I vividly recall the strangeness of seeing in bright – even garish – colors what was previously known […]

Remembering Dr. Vincent Harding

By Colleen McFarland A few weeks ago, we lost a man of faith and courage who walked with Mennonites for a time.  Historian and activist Vincent Harding co-pastored Woodlawn Mennonite Church (Chicago, Ill.) in the late 1950s, served with MCC in Atlanta in the early 1960s, and lived at Reba Place Fellowship from 1964 to […]

A Mennonite’s Brush with a Yeti Scalp

By Colleen McFarland If you’re like me, you probably don’t associate Mennonites with yetis.  Mennonites and four-part singing, delicious pies, and peace witness?  Yes, absolutely.  But Mennonites and yetis?  Not so much. Yetis, also known as abominable snowmen, are hairy, ape-like creatures that have been seen by Nepalese and non-native mountaineers alike in the Himalayas.  […]

Finding the Spirit in the Archives

By Colleen McFarland In 1982 Robert Shuster, director of archives at the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, tackled the problem of documenting spiritual enthusiasm in the historical record.[1]  Recognizing the importance of spiritual enthusiasm as an agent of social, cultural, and political change, Shuster asked whether archival documents can “capture” it  — record spiritual […]

The Archivist Has Left the Building

By Colleen McFarland Believe it or not, my work as the director of archives and records management for Mennonite Church USA requires some travel.  Stereotypes of introverted archivists, who are as dusty as the historical records they oversee, might suggest that I would never leave my collections.  The realities of modern archival work, however, require […]