Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta


MHSA Archival Description Record

Title and Physical Description
Irene Klassen fonds. — 1990-2004. — 6 cm of textual records

Administrative/Biographical History
Irene (Epp) Klassen was born in August 1924 in Ontario, second child of newly-immigrated David and Katharina (nee Unrau) Epp. From 1925 to 1930 they farmed at several Saskatchewan locations, the last one at Girvin and then they moved to Naco, Alberta. There the Neukirchner Mennoniten Gemeinde von Chinook-Sedalia was thriving, but soon also fell victim to the drought of the 1930s that caused many families to abandon their farms. The Epps remained and the situation did improve. Irene attended the local public and high school, finishing high school by correspondence. She went on to nursing school and graduated in May 1949 from the Calgary General Hospital with a Registered Nurse diploma. She nursed for a year at the Cereal Hospital, the latter half as a matron. In June 1950 she returned to Calgary and married John P. Klassen and they have four children. They are active members of First Mennonite Church where Irene has been involved in many roles: Sunday School teacher, Secretary-Treasurer of the Sunday School, historian (since 1975), and editor of the FMC Newsletter for 16 years. In addition, Irene has been involved with Women in Mission locally and was President of the Alberta Women in Mission (1970-1975), Canadian representative on the General Conference Women in Mission (1983-1992), Chair of the local Women's Inter-Church Council which organized World Day of Prayer. She has been a member of Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta since its inception and served as Secretary and Member at Large as well as active volunteer since the beginning of the Archives and Library in 2003. She wrote for various Mennonite periodicals including The Mennonite, Mennonite Reporter, Der Bote, and others. She was the Alberta correspondent for the Mennonite Reporter until it became the Canadian Mennonite (1984-1996). Irene has written three books: Poesy & Ponderings, Pieces and Patches of my Crazy Quilt (2000), and Their Mark: Their Legacy (2007).

Scope & Content
The fonds consists of two series: A) People and B) Congregations

Source of Supplied Title
Title based on the contents of the fonds

Source of Acquisition
Gift from Irene (Epp) Klassen, 2009

Access Restrictions
Access to personal information is subject to MHSA privacy policy and relevant legislation

Finding Aids
See Files Inventory

Related Materials
For publications related to the fonds, see:

  • Klassen, Irene. (1999). Posey & Ponderings. Calgary: Author
  • Klassen, Irene. (2000). Pieces and Patches of my Crazy Quilt. Calgary: Author
  • Klassen, Irene. (2007). Their Mark: Their Legacy. Calgary: Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta


Accession 2009.003
Last updated 5 Mar 2009 - Judith Rempel
Revised July 2012

Series Inventory

Series A. Biographical articles. — 1990-2004. — 4 cm of textual materials
The series consists of short articles about Mennonite Albertans who have made a significant contributions to community, church or other organizations written or collected by Irene Klassen. The series is arranged by surname of subject

1 - 1 Biography of Cornelius D. Harder by Jacob D. Harder - 1990
1 - 2 Benjamin B. Janz by Irene Klassen - 2004
1 - 3 He has Qualified Us (Biography of Henry and Sara Kornelsen) by Elviera Dueck - 1995
1 - 4 Henry H. Kornelsen by Irene Klassen - 2004
1 - 5 Abram Paetkau by George Paetkau - 2000
1 - 6 John and Katie Penner by Irene Klassen - 2003
1 - 7 A Remarkable Trek - The Story of Mary Penner by Mary Wall - 2000
1 - 8 Peter Rempel, Youth worker, Pastor, Counselor by Abram Harder - 2003
1 - 9 Bernhard W. Sawatzky by Irene Klassen - 2004
1 - 10 My Personal Sojourn by Bill Thiessen - 2003
1 - 11 John Aron Toews by Irene Klassen - 2004
1 - 12 John Unrau by Anne Harder - 2003
1 - 13 Abram P. Willms by Irene Klassen - 2004

Series B. Congregational articles. — 1984-2004. — 2 cm of textual materials
The series consists of short articles about Alberta Mennonite congregations written or collected by Irene Klassen. The series is arranged by subject

1 - 14 Castor by Cornie Friesen - 1991
1 - 15 Chinook/Sedalia by Irene Klassen - 1984
1 - 16 Countess by Jake Wiens - 2003
1 - 17 Gem by Henry Goerzen - 2000
1 - 18 New Gem by Irene Klassen - 2004
1 - 19 Provost by Cornie Friesen - 1991

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