MHSA

Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta


 

Volunteer Opportunities

The MHSA's mandate is to collect, preserve, and provide access to the records of Alberta Mennonites and their ancestors. In addition, we wish to foster public interest in the history of Alberta Mennonites.

We have some strong and reliable volunteers, but there are other roles and tasks that need to be done and are beyong the time and ability of existing volunteers. Can you help?

Archival Assistants
Genealogical Research Aides (General)

Facilities Expert
Technical Expert
Translators

Transcriber/Proofreader
Helpers
Regional Representatives

Archival Assistants:

Learn the processes of receiving boxes of papers through to stowing them in organized, described order in archival-quality containers in our vault.
Skills needed: patience for rhythmic work but which permits casual conversation throughout.
Time commitment: the more you commit to the work, the more we can train you to the analytical and reporting aspects of archival work. Under 10 hours - the work will be routine. Over 10 hours and we'll teach you about "Rules for Archival Description" and the bigger picture of archival studies.
Opportunities: to learn what archives really do (more than simply preserve records safely), obtain insight on how they can advance your own historical or genealogical research.
Projects Underway that need help in 2008:

  • Faith Mennonite Church, Edmonton
  • MCC Alberta
  • Christian Justice Ministries

Genealogical Research Aides:

Work on your own family history at the MHSA - you would not believe the resources we have - and help others when they drop in.
Skills needed: competency with Brother's Keepers (or willingness to learn), curiosity about others' ancestry, helpful attitude, interest in becoming knowledgeable about the MHSA genealogical resources.
Time commitment: at least one Saturday a month that is pre-arranged; it can be half days. This work isn't routine -- you'll be the resourceful one, offering suggestions on how a visiting researcher can advance in their family history research goals.
Opportunities: along the way, you'll get very fluent in a wide variety of resources that will help you with your own research (web-based, Brother's Keeper, GRANDMA, filtered spreadsheets, our library of family histories, etc.).

Facilities Expert:

We need a go-to person when we don't know why the lights don't work, the vault heating/cooling system needs tweaking … or we'd like help hanging things from our walls.
Skills needed: ability to assess what's at issue and how to fix or improve it (or get help or tell us we nee dto hire a professional to do it).
Time commitment: a few hours at a time generally. If there are larger projects, you can schedule them to suit you.
Opportunities: to keep our physical space functioning at a high level.
Projects Underway that need help in 2008:

  • development and installation of art-gallery type rails so that we can hang display
  • assistance in assuring that our archival vault's humidity doesn't fluctuate excessively

Technical Expert: 

We're managing fairly well with routine uses of computers and software, but really could use someone who has abilities in networking and database development.
Skills needed: training or experience in MS Access and building computer networks.
Time commitment: a few hours at a time, at your convenience. Projects will be occasional rather than continuous.
Opportunities: Satisfaction that we're keeping abreast of new ways of doing things, serving our researchers better, and using our time efficiently.
Projects Underway that need help in 2008:

  • we'd love to have the three computers at the MHSA networked so datasets need only be housed one place an could be accessed from all three
  • ability to have a live database online to carry our library catalogue

Transcriber/Proofreader:

There are lots of resources at the MHSA which we could provide increased access to if key data were transcribed to an index. We'll help build the indexing strategy - you get to interpret the handwriting (English, German, Gothic, whatever) and enter it into a spreadsheet, database, or simply into a word processing file.
Skills needed: typing skills preferred, though we could team you up with a typist. We can train on any software needed.
Time commitment: a few hours at a time, at your convenience. Projects can be designed to be as small or large as your interest.
Opportunities: seeing your work used by researchers, published online or submitted to the GRANDMA project (if privacy considerations permit).
Projects Underway that need help in 2008:

  • Lacombe Church book

Regional Representatives:

We need representatives in Northern Alberta and the Tofield area.
Skills needed: enthusiasm for Mennonite history and the work of the MHSA, sociable and charming - you make others excited to get interested in Mennonite history. If you are comfortable doing public speaking - this would be an excellent opportunity to use that interest.
Time commitment: at your convenience. Look for opportunities to let individuals, groups or congregations know about the resources of the MHSA library, archives, and publications. Foster an interest in Mennonite history in your area.
Opportunities: A good excuse to talk about something you love and find others of the same mind. Helping to build the membership base of the MHSA and appetite for Mennonite history knowledge.

Translators:

German to English generally, but ability in Russian sure would come in handy sometimes.
Skills needed: comfort with translating literally and/or in the spirit of the original. The workds might be as long as a 20 page article or Vertreterversammlung annual report or as short as an obituary.
Time commitment: at your convenience and can be done at home if you prefer. We can copy or scan most items that need attention.
Opportunities: A very grateful membership and researchers who would really like to know what's behind the German script but simply don't have the language ability.
Projects Underway that need help in 2008:

  • articles in Mennonitische Jahrbuch
  • Vertreterversammlung minutes and reports

Helpers! There are times when regular volunteers simply need the weekend off due to vacation, health or family needs. Can you help by “taking” an occasional shift?

Last Updated 8 Jul 2008

General Queries/Comments: Contact MHSA