Midwives in the Manitoba Mennonite Community 1881-1900

A Manitoba document dated 1881-1883, was stashed away for decades, taken to Mexico in 1922, and became part of a microfilming project in 1993, which saw this document come back to Manitoba. I stumbled upon this record of births for the Rural Municipality of Rhineland and was intrigued by this “new” source. At this time the Rural Municipality of Rhineland coincided with the area known as the Mennonite West Reserve (current day Altona/Winkler area). Along with the name, date, and location of 884 children that were born in this time, the name of the midwife was also included.
With information gleaned from this record, I was able to observe the role, areas of service and identities of the midwives serving the tight knit rural Mennonite community. The Mennonites settled in villages rather than on homesteads, providing a better environment for material care. Previous research has brought a few well-known midwives to the fore; this record revealed there were 31 women who acted as the midwife at three or more births in this three year period, with one woman serving at 128 births. I explored the maternal mortality rate, pragmatic care, medicalization, and medical support the midwives provided.
The midwives received strong support from their community which was challenged by the medical establishment. The community responded by pressing their provincial political representative to successfully defend them and a compromised was reached.
Conrad Stoesz, rmca@mymts.net


Encounters: The Canadian Armed Forces in Germany, 1951-1993

My dissertation project aims at exploring the social and cultural history of life on and around the Canadian NATO bases and their surrounding civilian settlements, built and maintained in the Federal Republic of Germany between 1951 and 1993. I am particularly interested in the interactions, encounters, and exchanges that took place with local German communities, on whose peripheries the “Klein Kanadas” (or Little Canadas) bordered – and how these are being remembered today.
Social and cultural historiographic studies in both Canada and Germany have hitherto neglected the history of the Canadian Forces in Europe. In order to close this research gap, I am conducting Oral History interviews with different actors on the German and Canadian side who lived and worked on or off the Canadian Army and Air Force bases between the 1950s and the 1990s. I am including different generations of military members, civilian employees, local residents, and family dependents alike. In addition, I am analyzing commemorative sites in digital media and existing Oral History collections. In order to contextualize these ego-documents, I am consulting records and official publications of the military, administrative authorities, and government agencies as well as newspaper articles in German and Canadian archives.
My research is framed as a transnational study that seeks to shed light on the social and cultural hybridity of encounters (and non-encounters) of local residents and members of the Canadian “military community” in the semi-permeable borderlands between “Little Canada” and the surrounding German localities – and the resulting (and overly positive) memory culture we find today. In this sense, my research project aims to serve as a contribution to Canadian, (West) German, and German-Canadian post-war history alike.
Frauke Brammer
John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies
Department of History
Freie Universität Berlin
Lansstr. 7-9
14195 Berlin

German-Canadian Studies Fellowship Program: 2012 Recipients

The 2012 recipients of prizes, grants, and scholarships in the German-Canadian Studies Fellowship competition for 2012 have been announced! Recipient of the German-Canadian Studies Scholarship (Ph.D.) is Frauke Brammer (Free University of Berlin) for her dissertation on the Canadian armed forces in Germany in the second half of the twentieth century. The German-Canadian Studies Scholarship (M.A.) was given to Hannah Oestreich (University of Waterloo) for a study of German idioms by German-speaking immigrants in Canada. Three German-Canadian Studies Research Grants were awarded to Christine Kampen Robinson (University of Waterloo) for her work on immigrant children’s identity constructions; to Elizabeth Krahn (Winnipeg) for an autoethnographic study of the legacy of collective trauma experienced by Russian Mennonite women; and Kristin Lovrien-Meuwese and Elisabeth Gsell-Dentsoras (both University of Winnipeg) for a study of how German-speaking Manitobans transmit their dialects to younger generations. Finally, Conrad Stoesz (University of Winnipeg) received the German-Canadian Studies Undergraduate Essay Prize for his extensive essay on “Midwives in the Manitoba Mennonite Community 1881-1900,” which he wrote for Prof. Ryan Eyford’s class Themes in Canadian History. Congratulations to all!