Words of Cheer Index

History

Words of Cheer was a Mennonite periodical published for children. Dr. Henry A. Mumaw began publish it in April 1876. Mumaw sold it to the Mennonite Publishing Company, Elkhart, Indiana, in 1878. In 1908 the paper was sold to the Mennonite Publishing House, Scottdale, Pennsylvania. It continued until 1970. (It was succeeded by another periodical, On the Line, which ran from 1971 to 2005 for the same age group.)

Words of Cheer was distributed not only to individual subscribers but also in bulk to Sunday Schools for distribution to children who attended. The paper contained stories, articles, poems, puzzles, and children’s letters. Most children who wrote letters were between about six years to early teen years. Besides sending greetings to other readers, children gave simple information about themselves, their family, their school, their church, and, sometimes, their local community. Letter writers would tell their age and birth date and would invite others who had the same or a near birth date to write to them. Many friendships were thus launched. Editors of the periodical often gave short, friendly responses to each letter and also encouraged correspondence between individual children.

Besides Words of Cheer, other Mennonite-published periodicals for younger readers included Beams of Light and Youth’s Christian Companion. However, these latter periodicals did not include correspondence from readers.

The Index

The purpose of this index is to include each letter published in Words of Cheer. It appears in spreadsheet format with columns for name of letter writer, town or city, state or province, date of birth or year of age, name of Sunday School attended, name of Sunday School teacher, and date of issue in which each letter appears. This indexing project began in November 2008. The present index includes more than 29,000 letters written between 1921 (the year of the Historical Society’s earliest bound copy) and 1966. Work continues on issues of succeeding years. Prior loose issues will eventually also be indexed.

Click on the file name below to open the index (Microsoft Excel or a compatible spreadsheet application required to view the file). Issues of Words of Cheer may be viewed in the library. Those unable to visit the library may request copies by mail, telephone, or email (library@lmhs.org), for a charge.