of Alberta

Letters of Immigration & Conscientious Objection

As of November 11, 2001, many North Americans remembered anew the difficulties of war and the personal sacrifices that family members have made in the name of higher goals of those wars. Today’s Sunday Morningtelevision show on brought attention to American letters of war (see a preservation project at: War Letters) and showed how much the letters added to the historical record. They contributed the personal experience of the time – an addition to the formal history.

For Mennonites, the higher goals tell us not to contribute to the furthering of war. Expressing that view through conscientious objection has led to numerous stories as well. Those same higher goals lead us to be migrators. Mennonites historically have made large immigration journeys in order to find fewer restrictions to their expression of faith. So, Mennonite personal history can also come from letters, sometimes due to war-time experiences, but also due to immigration experiences.

We would like to open up this portion of the MHSA website to be devoted to first-hand letters and diary accounts of immigration and conscientious objection. We welcome letters from Mennonites around the world.

We start with one, from an MHSA member whose great grandfather’s brother wrote about the journey from Southern Russia to Southern Manitoba in 1876. Please send typed copies of your letters as e-mail attachments to the MHSA, photocopied letters can be sent to: MHSA Letters Project, 2946 – 32 Street NE, Calgary, AB T1Y 6J7. As they arrive, we’ll post them here.

If you have letters, diaries or other old personal papers that deserve special care and preservation, we’d encourage you to follow advice such as is found at:War Letters Preservation Suggestions and/or give them to an appropriate Mennonite archives. The MHSA will be pleased to receive them for our collection. Any original, archival material should be sent to: MHSA Letters Project, 2946 – 32 Street NE, Calgary, AB T1Y 6J7 as registered or expedited mail to ensure postal delivery.

Last Updated 11 Nov 2001