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Hidden Gems – Brethren Historical Library and Archives
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In want of a stenographer

Henry Ritz Holsinger (1833 – 1905) was the spearhead of the progressive movement in the German Baptist Brethren who valued education, dissemination of information, and was “impatient with the passive, time-bound patterns of the past and eager to spur the church forward with energy and new ideas.”

For the Glory of God and My Neighbor’s Good

The impact of the Sauer Press on the early life of the colonial Germanic religions (including the Church of the Brethren) and people, focusing especially on Christopher Sauer I and II, shaped both the spiritual and political stance of a community and was integral to maintaining a growing church and Germanic cultural community in colonial America.

Printed page from 1786 showing boats landing

Gladdys Esther Muir

If one quote can truly define Dr. Gladdys E. Muir’s lifelong motto as a teacher and peace activist, it is one in which she wrote: “I have found it better to overestimate a student’s ability than to underrate him, for he usually rises to what you expect of him.”

W. Harold Row: Servant and Bridgebuilder

Those who have grown up within the Church of the Brethren may recall the name M. R. Zigler. He was a man who served as the first executive secretary of the Brethren Service Committee and a Brethren leader who helped to found Civilian Public Service during World War II. Another prominent individual, although perhaps lesser-known today, was Rev. W. Harold Row – a Church of the Brethren pastor in Virginia and Pennsylvania, denominational leader, and, along with Zigler, something of a Brethren pioneer in ecumenical, service-oriented relationships.

Ralph Smeltzer and His Work in Selma

By Maddie McKeever Ralph Smeltzer was a member of the Church of the Brethren who worked under the Brethren Service Committee (later, Brethren Service Commission) in a variety of jobs from about 1944 – 1968. In addition, Smeltzer oversaw Brethren Service in Austria post World War II and worked within different capacities for the National

Honoring CPS and Heifer Project Work in Puerto Rico

By Maddie McKeever This summer will mark the 75th anniversary of the first Heifer Project shipment to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Heifer Project was founded by Church of the Brethren member Dan West. After he had served overseas helping with relief work in Spain during the Spanish Civil War (1937-38), West realized that shipping dairy

Henry Kurtz

204 years ago (in 2019), a young man from Germany made his way to the United States. He was small of stature (indeed, his surname means “short” in German), and reportedly had a hump in his back. He was not a callus-handed farmer or a broad-shouldered laborer, but a classically educated school teacher. Like many

Rosa Page Welch

By Haley Steinhilber, archival intern “I enjoy loving the hate out of people.” Rosa Page Welch1 Born into a family of Mississippi sharecroppers in 1900, Rosa Page Welch grew up immersed in the Christian faith. Her love of music was inspired by her father, who was a talented violinist and tenor in Claiborne County.2 She attended

A Second Chance at Life: From Convicted Murderer to Brethren Service Volunteer

On March 13, 1958, Nathan Leopold was paroled from Statesville Penitentiary in Illinois into volunteer service work with the Brethren Service Commission in Castaner, Puerto Rico. He had formerly been imprisoned thirty-three years for his involvement in the 1924 murder of fourteen-year-old Bobby Franks.

Minnesota Starvation Project

After the mistreatment of conscientious objectors by the military and government in World War I, peace groups such as the Mennonites, Society of Friends, and Church of the Brethren discussed the creation of a program that would exempt them from a future draft. Civilian Public Service was formed in 1940 as an alternative noncombatant way for conscientious objectors to serve the United States during World War II. Programs sponsored by CPS included work in agricultural service, mental hospital service, and numerous other projects supported both by the state and privately. The Brethren portion of the program was overseen by Brethren Service Committee.

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