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Herbert Bible School – Herbert, SK

Proper Title

Herbert Bible School fonds

Dates of Creation


Physical Description

95 cm of textual records and 2 photographs

Administrative History

The Herbert Bible School in Herbert, Saskatchewan, is usually regarded as the first Mennonite Brethren Bible institute in Canada. The school first opened under the auspices of the Northern District Conference of the Mennonite Brethren Church (later known as the Canadian Conference) in 1913 under the leadership of J.F. Harms who had come to the area from Kansas in 1908. The school began to experience problems due to lack of finances and teachers, and by 1916, the existence of the school was in jeopardy.

Early in 1916, steps were taken to transform the school into a society school with participation by various Mennonite groups. According to a brochure of statutes located in this fonds, membership in the supporting society was open to people of various confessions, although the directors had to belong to a Mennonite church. The members of the initial Board of Directors included only two Mennonite Brethren individuals, H.A. Neufeld and J.P. Wiebe. The school did not prosper as a society school either. When J.F. Harms moved to Seattle in 1918, the school closed.

In 1921, a new initiative under the leadership of William J. Bestvater brought the school back to life. According to the records, Bestvater himself became the owner of the school. Essentially, however, the new Herbert Bible School became a Mennonite Brethren school. The dedication service took place on November 6, 1921, in the Mennonite Brethren Church in Herbert. At an organizational meeting in 1926, Bestvater was elected the chair, which evidently brought the school more formally under the jurisdiction of the Mennonite Brethren constituency, although technically it was still a society school with specified membership dues.

The Herbert Bible School operated as a Mennonite Brethren school until it closed in 1957, and the program was amalgamated with Bethany Bible Institute.

Taken from “Herbert Bible School – Some Historical Notes” by Abe J. Dueck in Mennonite Historian 23.1 (March 1997).

Scope and Content

This fonds includes a pamphlet of statutes for the Bible school that were accepted at a general meeting at Herbert on 22 July 1916, a history of the school and various yearbooks, textbooks edited by William J. Bestvater, a sample of an early student’s work (Anna J. Thiessen’s report cards signed by J.F. Harms and her exercise books in the German Gothic script). Also in this fonds are two books listing Herbert Bible School students in alphabetical order. Only names and addresses are given in Book I. Book II and a file of student lists also supply dates and amount of payment to the school and other records. There is a faculty and staff list, alumni records, property records, financial records, and minutes.

Custodial History

Part of this fonds came to the Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies in 1996 from the Bethany Bible School where they had been housed. Others came in 2009, also from Bethany College, with accession number 2009-40.


  • Volume 745, 1316, 1319.
  • Title based on contents of the fonds.
  • Finding aid: see also South Saskatchewan District, Vol. 310-311, sub-fonds IV, files 33&34.
  • Finding aid consists of a file list.
  • No restrictions on access.
  • Accession number 2009-40.

File List

Volume 745

1. A paper roll of thirty-eight devotional readings. -- n.d.
2. Booklet: Statuten der Mennonitischen Bibelschule zu Herbert, Saskatchewan. -- 1916.
3. Booklet: Auskunft ueber die Herbert Bibelschule zu Herbert, Saskatchewan. -- 1927—1928.
4. Booklet: Prospectus of the Herbert Bible School. -- 1948–1949.
5. Booklet: Prospectus of the Herbert Bible School. -- 1949–1950.
6. Yearbook: The Trumpet. -- 1956.
7. Booklet: Textbuechlein in Bibel-Kunde fuer Deutsche Bibelschulen, edited by William J. Bestvater. -- Undated.
8. Booklet: Textbuechlein in Glaubenslehre fuer die Herbert Bibelschule, edited by William J. Bestvater. -- Undated.
9. Anna Thiessen's report cards from the Herbert Bible School. -- 1913–1914, 1914–1915.
10. Nineteen exercise books that belonged to Anna Thiessen, student of the Herbert Bible school. -- 1913–1915.
11. Student lists and undated Historical notes. -- 1928–1929, 1935, 1936–1937, 1937–1938, 1941–1942.
12. Book I: List of Herbert Bible School students. -- n.d.
13. Book II: Enrollment and financial records. -- 1939–1945.
14. Correspondence. -- 1961.
Two photographs of the Herbert orchestra. - Undated. Identified are Frank Derksen (Dalmeny and later Hepburn), John Sukkau (Dalmeny), Abe Janzen (Dalmeny and later Kelowna), and Jacob P. Lepp (Dalmeny). See Mennonite Historian 23.2 (June 1997).
Paper: "A Study of Christian Life: Knowledge of God" by J. Redekopp. -- 1942–1943.

Volume 1316

1. History papers on early years, ca. 1910-1930. -- [19-].
2. Constitution 1926, member list of the society, and minutes of the society. -- 1926–1932.
3. Correspondence. -- 1922–1974.
4. Faculty list. -- 1913–1958.
5. Blank report cards [19-] and school catalogue 1930. -- 1930.
6. Alumni list. -- 1935–1952.
7. History papers. -- [19-].
8. Textbook on doctrine by Wm. Bestvater. -- [19-].
9. Radio broadcast correspondence and scripts. -- 1949–1951.
10. Directors comm. minutes. -- 1945–1947.
11. Financial reports and Prospectus. -- 1949–1950.
12. Constitution and correspondence. -- [19-]–1957.
13. Financial records. -- 1916–1919, [193-]–1949.
14. Alumni association minutes. -- 1928–1951.
15. Course notes. -- [192?]
16. Documents regarding the estate of Edward Peter. -- [195-].
17. Documents regarding sale of property and settlement of debts. -- 1936–1952.
18. Board minutes. -- 1958.
Correspondence regarding Bible School affiliation. -- 1951.
Bible School administration report. -- 1954.
Brief history. -- [196-].
Constitution. -- [19-].
Prospectus. -- 1953–1954, 1955–1956.
Miscellaneous documents. -- 1951–[196-].
19. Student registers. -- 1921–1956.
20. Member certificates of Herbert Bible School Association. -- 1944–1949.
21. Board minutes. -- 1916–1920.
22. Constitution of the Herbert Bible School Missions Association. -- [192?].
Minutes of the Missions Association. -- [192-].
School register. -- 1921–1923.
23. Board and association minutes. -- 1926–1957.
24. Brief history of school. -- [19-].
Table of staff, board, and statistics. -- 1913–1957.
Constitution and Confession of faith. -- [192?].
Inventory transfer list. -- 1913–1973.
25. Evangelical Teacher Training Association correspondence. -- 1948.
26. Herbert Bible School publication 'Voice' correspondence and editorial documents. -- [194-]–[195-].

Volume 1319

1. Financial ledger books. -- 1925–1944.
2. Student register. -- [19-].
3. Student records. -- [194-]–[195-].

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