© Mennonite Heritage Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba (Last updated January 26, 2004)
Retrieval numbers: Vol. 2112-3, 4565, 4566
Title: Jacob H. Janzen fonds
Extent: 14 cm
Jacob H. Janzen, an outstanding church leader and teacher, was born March 18, 1878 on the private estate of Steinbach in South Russia. He was the youngest of four children born to Heinrich and Maria (nee Dirks) Janzen. A sister was born after him but died at the age of three. Although born on the Steinbach estate where his father was employed, Janzen's family soon moved to Gnadenfeld which with its strong German Lutheran pietism was considered to be very progressive. At the age of four his family then moved to the Vladimirov forestry camp where his father took the position of chaplain. Camp life was rough but being separated from his family at the age of seven to attend school was even harder. Despite the loneliness, Janzen excelled at school and had great dreams of becoming a marine engineer. These dreams never came to fruition largely due to lack of finances. Instead, Janzen did precisely what he did not want to do. He became a teacher. At the age of 16 he began teaching as an assistant in Rudnerwiede. He went on to teach in Pastwa, Friedensdorf and Orloff and what had begun as a dreaded necessity eventually became a privileged calling which he passionately embrassed. In 1899 Janzen married Helene Braun. Together they had eight children. Tragically their first child, a daughter died of scarlet fever at the age of two which had a profound influence on Janzen's faith and life. On November 19, 1906 Janzen was ordained to the ministry by Aeltester Heinrich Dirks in the Gnadenfeld church. In 1919, just before the first World War, Janzen went to study philosophy and natural history at Jena and Greiswald. With the coming of the war, he went to serve in the forestry at Kursk in the far north. Between 1919-1920 he worked as chaplain in the White Army during the civil war. Twice he almost lost his life. First in 1918, when he saved the lives of 11 Red Army soldiers and then again in 1920 when Bolsheviks entered his dining room on horse back and Janzen invited them to join the family for dinner. During the famine in 1922 Janzen's wife, Helene died, and the next year he married Elizebeth Reimer, who was a widow with four children. Together they left Russia in 1924 with their combined family of ten children and immigrated to Canada. Though the first years were difficult, Janzen served the church in Canada with love and compassion. His early years in Waterloo were filled with much travel, little money and a huge growth in membership. In the 1940s he was one of the negotiators who worked with the Canadian government to allow alternative service options for the young men who were conscientious objectors. Health problems forced him to resign in 1947 but he continued to serve the church as his health permitted. He was often asked to lecture at Bethel College and was awarded a doctors degree from that institution in 1944. Janzen is remembered for the many books and plays he wrote, for being a much loved and respected teacher, for his love of music, and for being a lively speaker who was smart, curious, imaginative and pious. Jacob H. Janzen died on February 16, 1950 at his home in Waterloo.
This fonds contains materials written by Janzen including articles in the newspapers Der Bote and Mennonitische Rundschau, autobiography, tribute to David Toews, and religious instruction materials.
Janzen, Jacob H., 1878-1950
Finding aid consists of a file list.
The single itme listed in volume 2112 was collected by David and Trudy Schellenberg of Winkler for the Christian Heritage Library. The other material was collected by the Mennonite Heritage Centre. As materials came in they were added to the collection.
Described by Sharon H. H. Brown December, 2002, updated by Conrad Stoesz January 26, 2004.
Acc. no. 97-150, 2002-016, 2003-135
25. In dem von mir verfaszten PREDIGTBUCH "DA IST EUER GOTT" and a list of publications by Janzen that are for sale. -- [194-].
26. Copies of articles about Jacob H. Janzen from Mennonite Life. Includes a bibliography. -- July 1951.