The Ohio State University's Knowledge Bank Publishes the Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies twice a year as an open-access journal. It is available in two formats:
Index of JAPAS Abstracts
Anderson, Cory. 2013. “Who Are the Plain Anabaptists? What Are the Plain Anabaptists?” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 1(1):26-71.
I define the plain Anabaptists by answering two essential questions: “Who are the plain Anabaptists” and “What are the plain Anabaptists?” In asking “Who are the plain Anabaptists?” I investigate several dimensions of identity. First, I trace the history of seven religious traditions within Anabaptism: the Swiss Brethren/Mennonites, the Low German/Russian Mennonites, the Hutterites, the Amish, the Brethren, the Apostolic Christian Churches, and the Bruderhof. Second, I explore three categories of people in each group—mainline, conservative, and Old Order—describing the last two as “plain.” Third, I explore scales and indices on which plainness is measured, as well as other measures of who the plain Anabaptist people are. In asking “What are the plain Anabaptists?” I define several ways social scientists conceptualize and describe the plain Anabaptists. I organize the sundry definitions and frames under three categories: the plain Anabaptists as a religious group, as an ethnicity, and as a social system.
Anderson, Cory. 2014. “Horse and Buggy Crash Study I: Common Crash Scenarios between a Motor Vehicle and the Amish / Old Order Mennonite Horse and Buggy.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 2(1):79-99.
Horse and buggy transportation is spreading as rapidly as its Amish and Old Order Mennonite users are, as are buggy crashes with motor vehicles. This study examines the primary causes of 76 reported horse and buggy crashes in Pennsylvania in 2006. The main crash types identified include a motorist rear-ending a forward-moving buggy, a motorist striking the buggy while attempting to pass, buggy struck while crossing an intersection, and buggy struck while making a left turn. While causative factors varied, major factors include the motorist or buggy driver incorrectly comprehending speed differentials, the motorist acting carelessly around the buggy, and miscommunication between the motorist and buggy driver. Within these crash types, buggy conspicuity was not commonly a potential cause.
Anderson, Cory. 2014. “Horse and Buggy Crash Study II: Overstretching the Slow-Moving Vehicle Emblem's Abilities: Lessons from the Swartzentruber Amish.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 2(1):100-15.
For decades, the Swartzentruber sect of Amish have, for religious reasons, rejected state-level mandates for horse-drawn buggies to display the S.M.V. (slow-moving vehicle) emblem. Court cases in several states have suggested (1) confusion over what the emblem is supposed to accomplish, and (2) questions about the emblem's superiority to alternatives. Synthesizing evidence presented in several court cases involving the S.M.V. emblem and the Swartzentruber Amish, this study clarifies what the S.M.V. emblem can be expected to accomplish and in which domains it reaches its limits. The evidence is organized categorically and presented as a series of cues presented to the motorist. Findings suggest that while S.M.V. emblem serves well as a generic indicator of something demanding attention, it is less effective in symbolic communicating what it is that needs attention and the motorist’s approaching time. Further, the S.M.V. emblem may be counterproductive when a motorist passes a buggy, as the bright splash of color draws attention to the center of the buggy rather than communicating buggy width.
Anderson, Cory. 2014. “Horse and Buggy Crash Study III: Low Illumination and the Sun's Glare in Crashes between Motor Vehicles and Amish / Old Order Mennonite Horse and Buggies.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 2(1):116-24.
The purpose of this study is to identify time periods of particular crash risk through the day for Amish and Old Order Mennonite horse & buggies. As suggested in prior studies, transitional illumination (dawn/dusk) may be a risk to travel because of a lighting situation that lowers visibility, and the sun’s glare at these same times may obstruct motorists’ vision. The speed differences between buggies and motor vehicles are already great; reduced vision compounds the problem of response time. To assess risk, I compare horse and buggy traffic counts to the times of horse & buggy crashes over a nine-year period. Periods of particularly high risk include the early morning and early evening, during times of illumination transition and high possibility of glare, though the dusk period is punctuated with an hour of low risk. The afternoon and late evening are periods of modest risk. Mid-morning hours are the lowest risk. This study yields mixed results for the hypothesis. When considered in light of previous findings, this study brings more evidence to bear on illumination and glare as particular risk factors for horse and buggy crashes.
Anderson, Cory. 2015. “Amish Education: A Synthesis.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 3(1):1-24.
Amish education is one of the most researched subtopics in Amish studies. This article is a meta-analysis of the existing literature about Amish education, finding that most research discusses how the parochial school system functions to socialize students into the broader Amish social system. In particular, the school socializes students into (1) several major Amish-defining internalized dispositions, ideologies, and outlooks and (2) the meso- and micro-level Amish social structure. Several anomalies do exist, including their educational approach to special needs children, parochial school dysfunctions, and alternative schooling methods. The article concludes with suggestions for future research, including more rigorous ethnographic studies that better divulge latent functions and the utilization of other theories to unlock other implicit patterns.
Anderson, Cory. 2017. “Seventy-Five Years of Amish Studies, 1942 to 2017: A Critical Review of Scholarship Trends (with an Extensive Bibliography).” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 5(1):1-65.
After 75 years, Amish studies has received no field reviews, an oversight I rectify with this article using several citation analysis techniques. I offer criteria for defining Amish research, which results in 983 references that are analyzed. Amish studies has a very highly centralized core of works; the top one percent of cited references account for nearly 20% of every citation in Amish studies, with Hostetler, Kraybill, Nolt, and Huntington dominating the top list. Few consolidated subareas exist, exceptions being language and health- population research. Analyzing Amish studies chronologically, the field early on accepted the definitive-sympathetic-authoritative-comprehensive-insider research approach, which legitimated “The Throne” (so-called) in Amish studies, i.e., a central scholar, a few close to him, and the irrelevant hinterlands. The seat was first occupied by Hostetler, then Kraybill. The absence of driving research questions, theory developments, and debates creates place for The Throne, whom scholars often cite to legitimize a given study emerging from an otherwise fragmented field. Other troubles with The Throne model are also presented. My call to Amish studies is (1) to develop honed research questions that address specific sub-areas and to consider how any given reference fits into the literature, and (2) to distance our empirical work from fence-straddling popular/scholarly models, e.g. rejecting “the Amish” as a brand name, approaching the Amish as purely scholars and not partially tourists, and foregoing a protective- or reformist-mentality toward the Amish.
Anderson, Cory. 2017. “The Undistinguished Scholar of the Amish, Werner Enninger, -or- Has the Time Yet Come for Rigorous Theory in Amish Studies?” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 5(2):196-238.
Werner Enninger embodies the highest standards of methodological rigor and theoretical insight in Amish studies, and this article synthesizes his 30-some publications written in English. Enninger was a socio-linguist from Germany who conducted field research in Delaware in the 1970s and published intensely in the 1980s. His mixed methods address common hurdles field researchers face and offer meticulously detailed qualitative and quantitative data. Enninger’s theory can be organized around a social system model that fuses structural functionalism and symbolic interactionism. Within the model, he proposes a four-part superstructure—(1) core, group-defining values, namely, religious community and separation, (2) are realized in concrete norms in timeless (e.g. New Testament) and time-specific (e.g. Ordnung) ways (3) that are internalized, (4) producing an orderly role system. The role system is accessible to system actors, who assume roles through identifiable symbols (role attributes), notably, dress configurations. Mutual identification of alter distributes role privileges in the ensuing interaction and triggers language choice. The enactment of roles defines the social situation. Social situations of central importance to the brotherhood have fixed roles that are assumed and ascribed, with strong sanctions for deviance. Peripheral social situations permit greater role making, where roles are negotiated, ascribed statuses are reduced, and social sanctions are fewer. Peripheral social situations are the primary source for social change. Enninger’s work is not for the faint-of-mind or impatient, yet provides a much-needed source of inspiration to strengthen future Amish studies research, theoretically and methodologically.
Anderson, Cory and Jennifer Anderson. 2016. “The Amish Settlement in Honduras, 1968-1978: A (Half) Failed Attempt to Develop an Amish Understanding of Mission.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 4(1):1-50.
For their several-hundred years of successfully maintaining Amish settlements in North America, for what reason would a group of families—largely from Nappanee, IN, and Aylmer, ON—want to start a settlement in Honduras? This account traces the genesis of this Latin American settlement to the mid-century restlessness among Old Order Amish for religious and moral reform. The account especially follows families from Daviess County, IN, who, after failed settlement attempts in Michigan and Ohio, helped found Aylmer, ON, a successful revisionist Amish settlement. From there, Peter Stoll, one of the Aylmer founders, desired to move to Honduras for two reasons: (1) to provide an Old Order-style mission to people in a developing country, and (2) to escape the social and political changes of North America weighing on the Amish church. An Old Order idea of mission like Stoll’s is to match the specific, nuanced practices of one’s church with specific needs of another people, then move among the people and live out an alternative. Such a model reinforces the church’s distinct practices. This contrasts with evangelical mission, which prioritizes saving souls over all else, including cumbersome “cultural” practices. Peter Stoll’s clan was joined by estranged families from Nappanee. These eventually pushed for an evangelical outlook on mission and a lowering of Amish church requirements, solidifying among Peter’s children a commitment to Old Order ideas—after years of grappling with the instability of reforming it—and a commitment to the Aylmer settlement, to which they returned.
Anderson, Cory and Joseph Donnermeyer. 2013. “Where Are the Plain Anabaptists?” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 1(1):1-25.
This article discusses geographic analytical units of plain Anabaptist groups relevant for conceptualizing spatial dispersion across Canada and the United States. All plain Anabaptist groups are tied to the land, hence, the religious values, cultural traditions, and social organizations of plain Anabaptists are intimately and reciprocally bound up with geography. We discuss six geographic units of the plain Anabaptists and describe how we gathered information about their locations. These include: local church, local affiliation, settlement, region, broad affiliation, and global region. We present maps of their geographic distribution throughout Canada and the U.S., noting spatial patterns. Hence, this article provides a geographic introduction to plain Anabaptist groups, which are defined further in the next article, “Who are the plain Anabaptists? What are the plain Anabaptists?” (Anderson 2013).
Anderson, Jennifer and Cory Anderson. 2014. “Conservative Mennonite Storybooks and the Construction of Evangelical Separatism.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 2(2):245-77.
Group-produced literature is representative of and reinforces group behaviors, norms, and beliefs. This study focuses on the missionary theme in literature from three Conservative Mennonite publishers, identifying two major constructs of what we term evangelical separatism. First, Rod & Staff depicts evangelism as establishing stable, integrating church communities in places where none exist, making their offering accessible to any who would care to join while also withholding assessment of outsiders. Second, Christian Light Publications and TGS present missions in a more aggressive, individualized mode, whereby the outside is viewed as a land of darkness and the missionary, in embodying Christ’s incarnation, bring light to that place. The focus of evangelism is conversion to Christianity, with the church as a social system peripheral to the action. Separatism is maintained by staking claim to authentic Christianity against inferior outside offerings. This latter plotline has birthed the new missionary adventure genre, which both entertains readers through secular adventure techniques while emphasizig a sacred end mission. The classic Anabaptist suffering theme is present in both types of stories, though transformed to include social / personal sacrifices and patience needed to engage in mission work.
Billig, Michael and Elam Zook. 2017. “The Functionalist Problem in Kraybill’s Riddles.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 5(1):82-95.
Much of contemporary Amish scholarship manifests an implicit functionalist paradigm that harkens back to mid-20th-century social science. This perspective tends toward optimistic, even “Panglossian,” explanation of traits, in which everything that the Amish do or believe has a use, purpose, or reason; i.e., a function. The vagaries of history and the ebb and flow of power may be acknowledged, but they are relegated to minor explanatory factors. This essay provides a close reading of Donald Kraybill’s popular The Riddle of Amish Culture. It demonstrates the functionalist premises behind many of the explanations offered in Riddle, despite the fact that the author provides sufficient information for the reader to come to different conclusions about how aspects of Amish life came to be what they are. That the Amish themselves read and respect Kraybill’s work leads to a paradoxical situation in which Kraybill’s narratives are taken to be true explanations, which then become another doctrine that must not be debated or self-corrected.
Bogden, Megan, Steven Reschly, Benjamin Zeller, Tom Coletti, Donald Kraybill, Karen Johnson-Weiner and Steven Nolt. 2014. “The Amish Symposium.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 2(2):278-302.
Brock, Caroline. 2013. “What Do College Students Have to Learn from the Amish?” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 1(2):69-89.
This paper presents the results of a survey of college courses taught on the Amish. It is based on a series of interviews with instructors at other institutions of higher learning whose courses focus on the Amish, an examination of their syllabi, and analysis of student writing from the course I teach at the University of Missouri-Columbia. The survey was designed to ascertain the goals of professors who teach a class about the Amish and how they best achieve their course objectives. Secondly, the survey explored what attracts college students to a course about the Amish, and what prior knowledge, and preconceptions they bring with them. My survey found that all professors relate themes and values about the Amish to the lives of college students, but there are subtle differences in how these connections are expressed by instructors in the classroom through various course activities. This paper should serve as a resource for people who want to incorporate information about the Amish in their college-level courses.
Bryan, Edward. 2016. “The Amish Beard Cutting Case: A Defense Lawyer’s Perspective.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 4(1):98-105.
Colyer, Cory, Cory Anderson, Rachel Stein, Joseph Donnermeyer and Samson Wasao. 2017. “Reviving the Demographic Study of the Amish.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 5(1):96-119.
The Amish exhibit distinctive demographic patterns, notably high fertility. While scholars have studied Amish population dynamics for more than a half century, recent research in this area is limited. We believe the time is ripe to reverse this trend. This article reviews data collection methods, points to a variety of accessible sources of new data, presents some preliminary results from the analysis of one such source (the McKune dataset for Holmes County, Ohio), introduces the research agenda and work of the newly formed Amish Population Research Group, and reviews past demographic findings to situate our agenda. An invitation is extended to demographers, social scientists, health researchers, and others to enter into collaborations with APRG.
Cooksey, Elizabeth and Joseph Donnermeyer. 2013. “A Peculiar People Revisited: Demographic Foundations of the Iowa Amish in the 21st Century.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 1(1):110-26.
This article describes the demographic foundations of the Amish in Iowa. We note that since the publication of “A Peculiar People” by Elmer and Dorothy Schwieder in 1975, the demographic dynamics of the Amish have changed little. They remain a high fertility group; and when coupled with increases in their retention of daughters and sons in the Amish faith, the Amish are currently experiencing rapid population increase and settlement growth. In turn, the occupational base of the Iowa Amish has become more diverse and less reliant on agriculture. We observe that the first or founding families for new settlements in Iowa come equally from outside of Iowa and older settlements within the Hawkeye state.
Cordell, Sigrid. 2013. “Loving in Plain Sight: Amish Romance Novels as Evangelical Gothic.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 1(2):1-16.
This article examines Beverly Lewis’s highly popular trilogy The Heritage of Lancaster County, a series often cited as inspiring the Amish romance novel trend. Although Lewis did not invent the Amish romance, the high visibility that her work enjoys in the media, and the conventional wisdom that she was the first to develop the genre, means that subsequent novels are necessarily responding to and adapting Lewis’s texts. Looking at Lewis’s trilogy as a foundational text, this article analyzes the ways in which it draws on Gothic conventions to perform evangelical cultural work (to use Jane Tompkins’s phrase). Considering the trilogy as a Gothic text within the context of Christian publishing highlights the ways in which it functions as an extension of evangelical outreach: the narratives both celebrate Amish community values and adherence to tradition while using Gothic tropes of confinement and escape to emphasize the idea that the Amish are narrow-minded and overly rigid. Ultimately, this article argues that Lewis’s novels use the Gothic to argue that the antidote to Amish rigidity is evangelicalism.
Crocker, Wendy. 2016. “Schooling across Contexts: The Educational Realities of Old Colony Mennonite Students.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 4(2):168-82.
This paper narrates the schooling experiences of the Old Colony Mennonites (OCM) across two contexts based on my first-hand observations as a principal in a rural, southwestern Ontario school and on a research trip to the Cuauhtémoc, Chihuahua, area of Mexico. The OCM children described in this paper attend public school in southwestern Ontario and travel regularly to Mexico where many of the families hold property or visit family. Thus, during one calendar year, these OCM children often attend schools in two countries with important differences in the use of language(s) and literacy practices, expectations in the classroom, and even the meaning of playing outside. This reality, which requires OCM students to adapt to the expectations of two very different learning cultures, is an important facet in the life of these children, whose experiences of school and education are vastly different. Using ethnographic methods and case study tools including photos, I describe the educational settings of Ontario and Chihuahua where OCM students are schooled. Further, I illustrate how the diaspora from Russia to Manitoba, Canada, the subsequent migration to Mexico, and then the return of the OCM to Canada (this time Ontario) was partially predicated on the need to find places where their beliefs about education could be enacted, a search that continues to the present.
Donnermeyer, Joseph. 2015. “Doubling Time and Population Increase of the Amish.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 3(1):94-109.
Current estimates of Amish population growth often cite a “doubling time” figure, but fail to substantiate the source from which the estimate was derived. As well, some estimates of population increase, such as by the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College, use net change in the number of church districts as a proxy to determine population change, rather than a more precise counting up of children and adults. Unfortunately, a direct “head count” of the Amish, and changes in this count overtime to create a doubling time estimate, would be very daunting, Until there is a valid database from which this can be accomplished, an alternative is to calculate doubling time based on net change in the number of households in various Amish settlements from one year to the next. In this article, end-of-year statistics submitted by scribes from hundreds of Amish settlements to a monthly periodical known as The Diary are used to estimate doubling time. Five time periods, each representing consecutive years from 2009 through 2014 for which the number of households for the same settlement is reported, are used to create a doubling time estimate. Altogether, there were 673 data-points for which consecutive year information about the same settlement was available. The article discusses possible limitations to using The Diary and households to calculate a doubling time, as well as the possible uses of an accurate doubling time estimate for research and application.
Donnermeyer, Joseph. 2017. “Of Shoulders and Shadows: Selected Amish Scholarship before 1963.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 5(2):162-95.
John Hostetler’s first edition of Amish Society in 1963 is a milestone in the advancement of scholarship about the Amish. It was revised and re-issued through three more editions. Even though the fourth and final edition was released nearly a quarter century ago, in 1993, Amish Society remains the most frequently cited authoritative sources about the Amish. Yet, there was a wealth of other solid scholarly work about the Amish before 1963, by such notable authors as Elmer Lewis Smith, Calvin Bachman, Walter Kollmorgen, Charles Loomis, and William Schreiber. The purpose of this review essay is to re-consider the merits of their scholarship, to demonstrate why those interested in understanding the Amish and other plain Anabaptist groups today should re-discover what they had to say. This review essay can be read either in its entirety, or, if the reader is interested only in certain scholars, just within sub-sections, as they are written as stand-alone essays, with minimal cross-referencing.
Donnermeyer, Joseph and Cory Anderson. 2014. “The Growth of Amish and Plain Anabaptists in Kentucky.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 2(2):215-44.
This article examines the growth of Amish and plain Anabaptist communities and population in Kentucky, one of the few southern states with a sizeable plain Anabaptist presence across much of its rural areas. Within the Amish religious tradition, this study focuses on both the broadly defined Old Order Amish, namely, those who prohibit ownership of motor vehicles for transportation, and the Amish-Mennonites, those who allow ownership. We provide an overview of their community formation and present a county-based estimate of their population. There are now 53 Amish communities in Kentucky, and a population of nearly 10,000. Over half (27) of these communities were founded since the turn of the century. Non-Amish, plain Anabaptists constitute 33 congregations.
Donnermeyer, Joseph and Cory Anderson. 2015. “A Mid-Decade Update on Amish Settlement Growth.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 3(2):222-35.
The rapid growth of the Amish population brings a concomitant growth of new settlements. This research note provides a mid-century report on new Amish settlement growth in North America, emphasizing that the vast percentage of today's extant settlements have been established in the very recent past. As settlements in-fill around decades-old settlements, spatially distinctive Amish regions are taking shape, both in states of historic settlement and neighboring states. The apparent recent success of geographically outlying settlements is also of note, given the unequivocal failure of such settlements in the more distant past.
Donnermeyer, Joseph, Cory Anderson and Elizabeth Cooksey. 2013. “The Amish Population: County Estimates and Settlement Patterns.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 1(1):72-109.
This article presents the findings of a county-based estimate of the Amish population. The results are from work commissioned by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies for the recently released 2010 U.S. Religion Census, plus research and updates associated with tracking the growth and geographic spread of Amish settlements in North America. County estimates are restricted to Amish church groups who rely on horse-and-buggy for travel. Using the terminology of the larger ASARB report, we break the Amish population into three groups: communicants (baptized members), non-baptized members (mostly children/young adults still living at home), and adherents (both baptized and non-baptized Amish). We report on population totals, state by state. We include tables showing the 25 largest Amish settlements, the 25 counties with the largest Amish populations, and the 25 counties with the highest percentage of Amish to their total population. Based on current rates of growth, we project the Amish population, decade by decade, to 2050.
Donnermeyer, Joseph and David Luthy. 2013. “Amish Settlements across America.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 1(2):107-29.
This short research report is based upon previous editions of “Amish Settlements across North America,” which was published periodically in Family Life. It accounts for new settlements founded since the last edition (2008), as well as settlements which are recently extinct. The information is presented in a series of six tables, including a list of all Amish settlements as of September 30, 2013 (Table 1). Table 2 summarizes the number of settlements and church districts in each state, while Tables 3 and 4 shows trends in settlement increases, decade by decade, since 1900. Table 5 is a list of settlements which became extinct between 2009 and September 30, 2013. Finally, Table 6 describes 15 facts about Amish settlements – past and present – plus, a projection about future settlement growth. We include a map showing the geographic distribution of settlements across Canada and the United States.
Eberle, Donald. 2015. “The Plain Mennonite Face of the World War One Conscientious Objector.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 3(2):175-201.
World War One was a difficult time for American Mennonites. conscription revealed profound differences between progressive Mennonites such as those from the General Conference and plain Mennonites such as those from the Mennonite Church. The General Conference endorsed non-combatant service and advised its draftees to “accept only service designed to support and to save life.” The Mennonite Church, however, categorically rejected non-combatant service and declared that “under no circumstances can they consent to service, either combatant or noncombatant, under the military arm of the government.” Military officers and government officials tended to view all Mennonites in a strictly adversarial fashion and usually failed to recognize or appreciate their differences or the sincerity of their efforts to reach some sort of mutually satisfactory compromise. Conscription defined a generation of young men and produced its fair share of martyrs. One hundred and thirty-eight Mennonites, most of them plain, were court-martialed for refusing to accept noncombatant service. But in a counterintuitive way, conscription also strengthened the Mennonite Church. The young Mennonite men realized the tension between their religious beliefs and the expectations of them as citizens of the United States. They almost invariably reported that whatever suffering they endured because of their nonresistant stand ultimately strengthened their faith.
Ems, Lindsay. 2014. “'Amish Workarounds': Toward a Dynamic, Contextualized View of Technology Use.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 2(1):42-58.
Interviews with northern Indiana Amish business owners reveal a tendency to create complex technological workarounds that allow them to abide by shared religious values while remaining competitive in the marketplace. These observations support theoretical approaches to understanding Amish technology use that view technology use as socially contextualized, dynamic and contested. It draws on literature from science and technology studies which views technology as an artifact that is socially constructed. The participants in this study report struggling to manage tensions between maintaining economic stability and traditional family, community, and religious values when deciding whether or not to adopt new technologies. These Amish entrepreneurs feel technology use must be possible but should also be complicated in today’s world. Two categories of workarounds emerge from the analysis of interviews: limitations on use and use via a trusted non-Amish person. These two categories illustrate interactions of economic forces, religious values, and professional tradition. In this way, technology adoption is seen as situated in a particular social context and functions as a signal of one’s “Amishness” or association to an Amish identity.
Evans, Simon and Peter Peller. 2016. “Hutterite Colonies and the Cultural Landscape: An Inventory of Selected Site Characteristics.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 4(1):51-81.
Hutterite colonies are a growing and sustainable element in the cultural landscape of the Canadian Prairies and Northern Great Plains of the United States. Their increasing numbers do something to offset the disappearance of the smallest service centers on the plains. While the diffusion of these communities has been well documented, the morphology of the settlements has been less well studied. New technology makes it possible to remotely evaluate selected characteristics of almost all Hutterite colonies. This paper describes the differences, with respect to orientation, layout and housing types, both between the four clan groups and within the Dariusleut and Schmiedeleut. Here as in many other aspects of Hutterite culture, there are signs of change and increasing diversity.
Garrett-Wright, Dawn, M. Eve Main and M. Susan Jones. 2014. “Child Weight and Feeding Patterns in an Old Order Mennonite Community.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 2(2):203-14.
Purpose: Feeding practices in some religious communities may decrease childhood obesity. However, there is limited research in these communities to assess maternal perceptions of their children’s weight and feeding patterns. The purpose of this study was to ascertain Old Order Mennonite mothers’ perceptions of their children’s body weight and to examine feeding patterns for their children. Sample: Participants for this descriptive, correlational study were recruited from an Old Order Mennonite community in south central Kentucky. Sampling was achieved using a snowball sampling strategy and the use of a community insider. Methods: Body Mass Index was measured for mothers and child participants, and mothers completed four questionnaires. Fourteen families with 65 children participated. Findings: Fifteen children (23.1%) had BMIs > 85%, and weight was underestimated in 24.6% of children. Breastfeeding was common (98.5%), with a mean age for cessation of 17.3 months. Mean age for introduction of solid foods was eight months. Results from the CFQ demonstrated mothers were neutral about obesity risk in their child (X=3.05). Mothers reported concerns about high sugar foods, limiting access to unhealthy foods, and children eating all food served at meals. Maternal health literacy scores (X=33.98) were comparable to scores found in other studies. A lower PSOC score (X= 23.36) was found. Conclusions: Further study needs to be conducted in this community to ascertain specific feeding habits that may account for increased BMIs.
Harasta, Joseph. 2014. “The Amish—A People of Preservation and Profitability: A Look at the Amish Industry in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 2(1):23-41.
Throughout much of their existence, the Amish remained relatively unknown and/or misunderstood by much of American society other than those who lived in areas with visible Amish communities. However, beginning in the second half of the twentieth century, the popularization of the Amish became a profitable commodity. With ever-increasing media exposure of the Amish during this time, some Amish communities were quickly becoming tourist destinations. It was clear by this point that the growing numbers of sightseers and lines of tour buses could be a moneymaker for businesses near the Amish communities. In many respects, the Amish during this time became a brand, representing a lifestyle that many Americans sought, if only on occasion—a bygone era when things were perceived to be simpler. Amish products and Amish imagery are now a viable commercial brand for everything from amusement parks to beer. This article examines the phenomenon of this “brand” in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Through analyses of interviews with Amish merchants, non-Amish businesspersons who profit from the Amish image, as well as the patrons of Amish stores, the following article provides a unique account of how the Amish image functions from multiple perspectives and the influence it has on consumers who financially support the Amish “brand.”
Hedberg, Anna Sofia. 2016. “The Dynamics of Boundaries: Obedience and Transgression among Bolivian Mennonites.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 4(2):149-67.
Boundaries keep people apart just as they keep people together. Boundaries are social constructs made by man in order to maintain the natural order of things. The aim of this article is to elaborate on the social construct of boundaries and particularly acknowledge their dynamic character. Social and cultural boundaries are passable, changeable, and negotiable. Nonetheless, boundaries are fundamental to many peoples’ existence and survival as ethnic and cultural communities and must therefore be acknowledged as essential human needs. By focusing on the members of a conservative Christian community—Old Colony Mennonites in Bolivia—as they carry out practices in relation to the outside world, the article illustrates processes that help sustain the group’s boundaries towards the outside as well as processes that simultaneously challenge and to some extent transform these same boundaries.
Jany, Berit. 2013. “Coming Home: The Bruderhof Returns to Germany.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 1(2):31-47.
The Bruderhof Community, founded by Eberhard Arnold in Germany shortly after World War I, envisions communal life according to the principles of early Anabaptism, Christian Socialism, and the German Youth Movement. Persecuted by the National Socialists in the 1930s, the group migrated to America. Despite harassment and expulsion from Germany, it has attempted to reunite with its geographic birthplace. Reasons for continued efforts to reconnect to the German homeland can be found in the movement’s historical development as a free church with a global awareness and outreach. Analyzing the Bruderhof’s experience with persecution, its distinct theology, and perseverance as a communal order, I explore the motivations that led to the community’s resettlement in Germany and the consequences of that endeavor.
Jeong, Seonhee. 2013. “The Role of Social Capital for Amish Entrepreneurs in Pursuing Informal Economic Opportunities.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 1(1):127-68.
This study explores the specific types of social relationships that influence initiation into and involvement in informal businesses. In particular, it examines the social capital possessed by Amish entrepreneurs who establish home-based, off-the-books tourism businesses. This paper theoretically refines social capital by identifying three dimensions of social relations: cognitive, reciprocal, and structural. I explore the relationship between social capital and Amish involvement in tourism businesses by using measures of tie strength, expected roles in one’s network, structural equivalence of network position, common culture, and religion. The results suggest that neither tie strength nor diversity alone accounts for one’s involvement in informal entrepreneurship. Rather, a combination of both strong and diverse ties is positively related to informal business involvement and success. Therefore, researchers of entrepreneurship should give attention to the multiplicity of both network tie strength and diversity.
Jepsen, S. Dee and Andrew “Dewey” Mann. 2015. “Efforts to Improve Roadway Safety: A Collaborative Approach between Amish Communities and a Professional Engineering Society.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 3(2):151-74.
Lighting and marking recommendations for animal-drawn buggies and wagons were first established in 2001 through an American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) Engineering Practice, EP576.1. Many Anabaptist communities who primarily rely on animal-drawn vehicles utilize this practice for marking their buggies and wagons; however they do not utilize the practice for their low-profile vehicles, such as pony carts. Visibility for pony carts on public roads is important to protect the operators, typically women and children. Following a series of tragic deaths in their community, the Holmes and Wayne Counties, Ohio, Amish safety committee raised the concern of having a consistent lighting and marking scheme for these low-profile vehicles. They also called for an additional aerial device to boost the cart's visibility to the motoring public. This project took approximately two years to develop consensus among Anabaptist stakeholders and members of the professional engineering society. The result of this effort was a revised Engineering Practice, EP576.2, which enhanced the previous recommendations to include consistent lighting and marking of low-profile animal-drawn vehicles.
Johnson-Weiner, Karen. 2015. “Old Order Amish Education: The Yoder Decision in the 21st Century.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 3(1):25-44.
Prior to the 1972 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in Wisconsin v. Yoder, et al., parents found themselves in court in a number of states. This essay explores the Yoder decision and its relevance for the Amish today, contrasting the understanding of Amish life implicit in the Supreme Court decision with the reality of the twenty-first century Amish world. In particular, it notes that the agency afforded the Amish by the Supreme Court’s decision in the Yoder case means that, as the Amish increasingly engage with the mainstream, education has for many become less about isolating children from the world than it is about shaping their interaction with it. It also notes that, in contrast to the court’s findings, those communities most closely meeting the court’s understanding of the Amish world are generally the least able or willing to provide an education judged “adequate” by external standards, largely because they are uninterested in evaluating their schools by any standards except those of their own community. Finally, it explores the legacy of Wisconsin v. Yoder, et al. for future litigation and for today’s Amish schools.
Jolly, Natalie. 2017. “Birthing New Kinships: The Cross-Pollinating Potential of Amish Health Research.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 5(2):147-61.
In this article, I explore the connections between Amish gender socialization and Amish birth practices to suggest that an Amish construction of femininity shapes the ways that Amish women experience childbirth. This study is framed by Amish women’s health research and takes as a point of departure two observations often made about Amish childbirth practices: (1) medical research has found that Amish women have shorter labors than their non-Amish (English) counterparts, and (2) doctors, midwives, and birth attendants have argued that Amish women’s expression of pain during labor and delivery differs substantially from their English counterparts. I draw on my two years of ethnographic work on Amish midwifery and homebirth to argue that there is deep sociological richness in medical findings that often dismiss Amish life as merely culturally anomalous. I argue that Amish birth is shaped by the norms of Amish society, particularly those that govern gender. I conclude that many of the features of Amish birth that have so interested health researchers cannot be fully understood without a sociological investigation of Amish life, and plain Anabaptist scholarship seems well positioned to foreground the social and cultural features of Amish society that likely remain invisible to health researchers. Reciprocally, comparative health studies on the Amish may illuminate areas of inquiry that were previously understudied and offer new possibilities for future social and cultural research within plain Anabaptist studies.
Jones, Paul, William Field, Donald Kraybill and Stephen Scott. 2013. “Use of Old Order Anabaptist-Produced Publications to Develop an Injury Surveillance System for Old Order Populations.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 1(2):17-30.
To achieve a clearer picture of injuries within Old Order Anabaptist communities, Purdue University’s Agricultural Safety and Health Program collaborated with the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College to conduct a pilot study on this topic. The team developed an injury surveillance system based not on traditional injury data sources and instruments but on data provided in Old Order-produced publications, specifically The Budget, Die Botschaft, and The Diary. While traditional surveillance methods have generally yielded injury data on less than 30 Old Order cases per year, the Old Order Injury Database, developed through the Purdue/Young Center collaboration, yielded data on 1,153 cases for the target year analyzed. While the primary focus of the study was farm-related injuries, it is believed that this type of surveillance system could be used by professionals in a variety of health-related fields to assist in gathering data and developing culturally appropriate interventions for Old Order groups.
Long, Scot and Richard Moore. 2014. “Amish Church District Fissioning and Watershed Boundaries among Holmes County, Ohio, Amish.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 2(2):186-202.
Upon reaching 40 households, an Amish church district typically divides into two smaller, relatively equally sized districts. This article analyzes the relationship between Amish church divisions and topographic demarcation lines within Clark Township, Holmes County, Ohio, from 1930 to 2010. In findings, divisions often follow physical geography boundaries, such as ridges that outline the edge of a watershed, or rivers and streams that essentially define topography within a watershed. Further, Amish leaders divide churches with objectives based on several socioreligious factors, from the maintenance of the faith community to the goal of preserving Amish neighborhoods and rural identity, while also facilitating the continuation of traditional agricultural practices.
Longhofer, Jeffrey, Steven Reschly and Luann Good Gingrich. 2017. “Bourdieu in Plain Anabaptist Studies? A Symposium Review of Out of Place: Social Exclusion and Mennonite Migrants in Canada.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 5(2):258-69.
Lutz, Martin. 2017. “Explaining Anabaptist Persistence in the Market Economy: Past Paradigms and New Institutional Economics Theory.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 5(2):239-57.
Amish and plain Anabaptist economic research has focused either on the religious ethic in the tradition of Weber—religious convictions drive economic behavior—or the ethnic resources model—resources are mobilized to entrepreneurship. Both approaches (1) neglect the greater market context within which the plain Anabaptists have been embedded since the Early Modern Period, and (2) focus primarily on either early Anabaptism or the late 1900s. This article presents New Institutional Economics Theory as an alternative paradigm which understands people's economic behavior by the institutional contexts they are in. It looks at the World War II economy in the United States when many Anabaptist COs applied to be deferred to farm work by arguing that such work is of national importance. It shows that the Amish were thoroughly involved in the modern economy in the 1940s, as Walter Kollmorgen suggests. The Amish also shifted their institutional rules (the Ordnung) in response to larger institutional changes (e.g. wartime America). New Institutional Theory can help scholars better understand how Amish engage in, are shaped by, and shape the larger market.
McGuigan, William. 2014. “Reliability and Validity of a Scale to Measure Prejudice toward Old Order Amish.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 2(1):147-54.
Numerous studies have examined prejudice in regard to race, age, sexual orientation, and gender, among others. However, there remains a paucity of research on prejudice toward Christian religious groups. In particular, prejudice towards one of America’s fastest growing religious groups, the Old Order Amish, is rarely examined. Using social categorization theory and based on McConahay’s modern and old-fashioned racism scale, an “Attitude Toward Amish” scale is developed and tested. Factor analysis revealed one dominant component and high internal reliability. The article concludes with a discussion of implications for future research of this rapidly growing population.
Miller, Crist, Anna Raber, Christopher Petrovich and Leroy Beachy. 2015. “Unser Leit Symposium.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 3(1):110-23.
Moledina, Amyaz, David McConnell, Stephanie Sugars and Bailey Connor. 2014. “Amish Economic Transformations: New Forms of Income and Wealth Distribution in a Traditionally 'Flat' Community.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 2(1):1-22.
The basic contours of the Amish economic transformation over the past few decades have been well documented, including the demographic squeeze that pushed many Amish out of farming, their embrace of cottage industries and, to a lesser extent, factory labor, and the social and cultural dilemmas created by successful entrepreneurship. Yet the effects of increasing market entanglement on the distribution of income and assets in Amish communities are still poorly understood. In this exploratory study, we draw on publicly available data from the U.S. Census, the Ohio Amish Directory, and records from real estate transactions to map out the distribution of income and land wealth in one predominantly Amish-populated Census Tract in Holmes County, OH. Our findings illustrate economic differentiation within the Amish community, as well as the ways in which affiliation and church leadership are associated with land holdings. Our case study raises important questions about growing economic inequalities that merit further exploration.
Petrovich, Christopher. 2013. “Realignment and Division in the Amish Community of Allen County, Indiana: A Historical Narrative.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 1(1):167-96.
The Amish have long faced disagreement over matters of internal policy and adoption of external ideas like evangelical emphases. In Allen County, Indiana, several branches of Anabaptists have developed from the original Swiss Amish settlers because of such differences. This article first reviews the history of new movements among the Amish. It then provides a historical narrative of the events that led to a New Order Amish schism in 2005, emphasizing how fundamental differences between the New Order’s evangelical theology and the Old Order Amish worldview played out on several symbolic fronts, including young adult behavior, home Bible studies, lines of fellowship, understanding of the Ordnung, church membership, re-baptism, excommunication and shunning, and language use in services. Even after the division, neither the New Orders nor the Old Orders were completely unified. The New Order church eventually dispersed with a Charity Church replacing it. Within the Old Order, a toned-down evangelical pulse continues, giving rise to some reforms in youth behavior and stress on internal religious experience. This case of Allen County Amish points to the importance of doctrinal, theological, and practical differences in shaping collective behaviors that leads to new movements among the Amish.
Petrovich, Christopher. 2017. “More than Forty Affiliations? Charting the Fault Lines.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 5(1):120-42.
The Amish are notoriously difficult to chart in terms of affiliations. However, defining affiliations is important to researchers: as a suitable measurement of conservatism, as a useful context for making sense of a particular district or settlement, for tracing socio-religious change over time, and for depicting both the unity and diversity that characterize contemporary Amish socio-ecclesiastical life. Until recently, scholars followed John Hostetler’s definition of an affiliation as a group of church districts that fellowship together and share a common Ordnung. But in The Amish, Donald Kraybill, Karen Johnson-Weiner, and Steven Nolt offer an entirely new definition of an affiliation as a cluster of two or more districts with at least twenty years of shared history. They conclude that there are at least 40 Amish affiliations. I argue against their haphazard fragmentation, identifying six major affiliations and a handful of outliers. I then apply my traditional-modified model to several scenarios to demonstrate the model’s utility.
Reid, Judson. 2015. “Old Order Mennonites in New York: Cultural and Agricultural Growth.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 3(2):212-21.
New York is experiencing dramatic population growth among horse-and-buggy driving populations. Farming is recognized as essential to the maintenance of these cultures. Nationally, these groups, particularly in larger settlements, struggle to stay active in farming. However, Old Order Mennonites run contrary to trends within the plain sects as well as agriculture at large. With over 570 households, a central New York settlement of Groffdale Conference Mennonites grew by 2,700% over the last three decades. They have one of the highest percentages of their population in agriculture, operating 99% of the dairy farms in the area, yet with a herd size of less than 50% of the state average. A Mennonite run produce auction grew by $185,000 annually for the last 12 years; and church members operate nearly 50 agricultural support businesses in the settlement. Youth activities, mission work, business growth, and internal social support systems (for both Mennonite and other Old Orders) are outward signs of the inner strength of the settlement. Potential constraints to growth include geography, commodity prices, and doctrinal issues.
Reschly, Steven. 2014. “Makers and Markers of Distinction: Technology and Amish Differentiation in the 1935-1936 Study of Consumer Expenditures.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 2(1):125-47.
Plain groups differentiate themselves from the world, and from one another, by technology. It is worth recalling, however, that before the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Amish farmers and artisans used the same technologies as their neighbors, and were often more advanced than those around them in agricultural techniques and tools. This article examines the early development of technological differences as markers of subcultural boundaries based the massive Study of Consumer Purchases (S.C.P.) conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the U.S. Department of Labor, and the Bureau of Home Economics in the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1935 and 1936.
Reschly, Steven. 2017. “Paradigmatic Paradigm Problems: Theory Issues in Amish Studies.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 5(1):66-81.
Scholars of Amish history and culture, and scholars of Anabaptist and Anabaptist-descent groups more generally, have not engaged consistently or productively with mainstream theoretical developments in social and cultural studies. The phrase used most often in Amish Studies, “negotiating with modernity,” has limited usefulness because of its abstractions and time restrictions. A viable alternative rises from the research and writings of French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, who formulated Habitus and Field as terms to theorize about the interaction of internal and external in human experience, perhaps the oldest and thorniest issue in the social sciences. Reformulated for more general use as “structuring intuition” and “structured intuition” can help, for example, historicize Amish Studies and, by extension, research on other Anabaptist groups. An example of how this might operate is provided by the history of Anabaptist and Amish agriculture from the early modern European “agricultural revolution” to the early twenty-first century. Habitus and Field enable one to describe and explain the consistencies of Amish habits of mind concerning agriculture, or their “structuring intuition,” as those habits confront and adjust to shifting economic, political, social, and cultural environments, or field as “structured intuition.” Brief examples from eighteenth-century France, nineteenth-century Iowa, twentieth-century Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and early twenty-first century Iowa must suffice to outline what this portable adaptation of Bourdieu might produce.
Rodger, William Randall. 2016. “The Role of the Teacher-Principal on Hutterite Colony Schools in Saskatchewan.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 4(1):82-97.
Hutterite colony teacher-principals’ roles in their classrooms and schools were examined in this qualitative multiple-site case study. Four teacher-principals’ perceptions of how their teaching and administrative responsibilities impacted their work/life and how the relationship contributed to tension between the two roles were studied. Pre-interviews, interviews (formal and informal), and classroom participation and observation occurred over four months. Three themes emerged from the study: (1) dealing with and balancing multiple roles on a daily basis; (2) the teachers’ beliefs in the primacy of teaching; and (3) the daily impact of school division and provincial relationships. Rising educational expectations on the colonies, the impact of technology, growing school district and provincial accountability, and the diversity of students’ needs have commanded an increasing proportion of the teachers’ time, without the provision of additional supports. Two policy recommendations are made to the colony schools: (1) recruit teacher-principals who exhibit cultural and relational competence; and (2) integrate teacher-principals into the district / administrative processes to provide the best support for colony schools.
Roessingh, Carel and Daniëlle Bovenberg. 2016. “‘No Sunday Business’: Navigating Religious Rules and Business Opportunities in the Shipyard Mennonite Settlement, Belize.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 4(2):133-48.
Within the Old Colony Mennonite settlements of Belize, the relationship between religious and economic practices entails a constant navigation of the acceptable, where threats of worldliness come from technology and from contact with outsiders. This paper takes as its focus the business of a butcher in Shipyard settlement, whose daily work testifies to a navigation of both of these potential threats. This entrepreneur uses technologies of energy, transportation, and communication—operated in part by an outside worker—to extend the radius of his meat business. The tense environment of Shipyard’s religious diversity frames our discussion of these observations, leading us to reconsider our understanding of the Ordnung and its relation to business activity. To understand the entrepreneur’s skillful navigation of rules and opportunities, we use the term “social capital” (Bourdieu 1986; Portes 2010) to reflect on the paradoxical relationship between religious rules and entrepreneurial space—and to consider how the Ordnung can be seen as a spacious (rather than a constrictive) place for Mennonite entrepreneurs.
Schlabach, Gracia. 2013. “A Survey of Amish Tunebooks to Categorize Slow Tunes by Date of Origin.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 1(2):90-106.
A survey of Notabücher (tune books) currently used by geographically diverse Amish communities leads to the conclusion that Amish slow tunes can be placed into three categories according to date of origin. I've dubbed these Old, Middle, and New Groups. Old Group tunes are derived from sixteenth century folk songs and Reformation era hymns. Middle Group tunes are, for the most part, based on later German chorales and New Group tunes have been adapted from early American hymn tunes. I begin this article with a brief summary of earlier research on Amish slow tunes, then give an overview of current Notabücher, their compilers, and layout. Next, characteristics of each tune category are given, with musical examples. Lastly, the Notabuch survey appears in chart form.
Schlabach, Gracia. 2016. “Mapping Positive Growth in Manitoba Colony, Chihuahua, Mexico.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 4(2):183-86.
While working in Manitoba Colony, Mexico, as teacher under Old Colony Mennonite Support from 2009 to 2014, I gathered data about the community from conversations and periodicals such as Kurze Nachrichten aus Mexico, Deutsch-Mexikanische Rundshau, Das Blatt, and Die Mennonitische Post. This information shows both changing demographics and positive growth that stems from improved literacy.
Smith, William. 2013. “Continuity and Change in a Southern Beachy Amish-Mennonite Congregation.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 1(2):48-68.
Key leaders in a Beachy Amish-Mennonite church in southwest Georgia were interviewed to discuss the congregation’s history and position on religious beliefs and practices, gender roles and family life, education, work life, and areas of current concern. I then use the framework of boundary maintenance to assess the congregation’s viability. I conclude that while this congregation has experienced a variety of changes, its history reflects continuity rather than change.
Turner, Kira. 2014. “Living on the Edge: Old Colony Mennonites and Digital Technology Usage.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 2(2):165-85.
Mainstream society’s perceptions of traditional Mennonites tend towards viewing them as technologically deficient. Yet, cell phones, computers, and tablets are increasingly prevalent within this population. Challenging stereotypes, this article considers digital technology usage by Old Colony Mennonites (OCM) in Southwestern Ontario (SWO). Rooted in the Anabaptist tradition, a lengthy history of migration led the OCM to settle in Mexico. Yet, due to economic circumstances, many continue to travel to and from SWO, resulting in a transformation; from maintaining an isolated lifestyle to one that includes some form of mainstream society. This shift includes digital technology usage, specifically texting, social media, and the Internet. Although research into Mennonite technology practice exists, these new forms of digital technologies have not received similar attention. Drawing on fieldwork conducted in 2012, this study took place in five Old Colony communities in SWO. Interviews, with both former and current OCMs, and others who have some connection to the Mennonites, suggest that the Old Colony navigate the lines between prescribed values and twenty-first century requirements in terms of a continuum, on their own terms. While digital technologies may create tensions within the community, they also act to blur lines between geographical boundaries, extend social networks, and allow OCMs to create their own vision of the society in which they wish to live.
Voelz, Sabrina. 2016. “Writing Life, Writing Back, and Writing Through: Saloma Miller Furlong’s Why I Left the Amish: A Memoir and Bonnet Strings: An Amish Woman’s Ties to Two Worlds.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 4(2):201-19.
In recent years, the memoir boom has left publishers searching far and wide for new material. As part of this trend and the immense demand for anything Amish, non-professional writers have seized the opportunity make their voices heard. While there is a wealth of scholarship on the Amish, the often trauma-filled narratives of the ex-Amish have neither been widely accessible to the public, nor the subject of much academic scrutiny until recently. This article explores the memoir, its genre conventions, and current debates. Furlong’s debut memoir, Why I Left the Amish (2011), is a powerful narrative about a desperate struggle for self-determination. She breaks the silence on mental illness as well as physical and sexual abuse among the Amish, while also providing readers with cultural information and alternative perspectives on Amish traditions and values. At the same time, Why I Left the Amish raises a few ethnical concerns. In the second installment to her serial memoirs, Furlong explores the challenges of beginning a new life in an unfamiliar environment and coming to terms with her trauma-filled past. Bonnet Strings: An Amish Woman’s Ties to Two Worlds (2014) is a more polished memoir, in which Furlong critically reflects on her first memoir, narrates her struggle to build interpersonal relationships as well as continues to forge of her own intersectional identities.
Warren, James and Marcus Enoch. 2014. “Transport Practices in Amish Communities.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 2(1):59-78.
Car ownership is growing in many countries. While beneficial to individuals in many cases, this trend has often resulted in significant economic, social, and environmental costs to society more generally. In researching possible solutions, one approach is to look at particular areas or communities that exhibit less reliance on the car or are even ‘car free’ to some extent, in order to see if lessons can be learned. Accordingly, this study seeks to define and characterize transport practices in Amish communities—in groups located across the United States and Canada—which for religious reasons have eschewed the car. Specifically, the paper draws on a comprehensive literature and archival review, supplemented with expert interviews, to briefly outline Amish beliefs and traditions, and then relate how these influence people’s mobility by mode, journey purpose, community, and stage of life. The study considers mobility by utilizing twelve broad mobilities as motivations, along with examples applied across six suggested stages of life. The twelve motivations considered are: migration; business / profession; discovery; medical related; military related; post-employment; trailing travel; travel across modes; travel for service work; tourist travel; visiting friends / relatives; and work / commuting. The six life stages are infancy, preschool, scholars, young people, adults, and old folks. The impacts of Amish transport are then considered with respect to society more broadly but also for each of the life stages.
Werner, Hans. 2016. “'Not of this World': The Emergence of the Old Colony Mennonites.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 4(2):121-32.
By the early twenty-first century, Old Colony Mennonites constituted a diaspora across the Americas. They maintained distinctive conservative dress and selectively rejected aspects of modern technology. While the label “Old Colony” became current in Manitoba in the 1870s, their conserving orientation reaches back to church divisions in the Netherlands in the sixteenth century. After a sojourn in West Prussia, they migrated to Russia in the eighteenth century and then to the prairies of Manitoba in the 1870s. The rapid industrialization of Russia and Canada sharpened their Anabaptist sense of being separate from the world and stimulated a reaction to particular innovations: new ways of singing, progressive education, pietism, and market agriculture. By 1890, the lines were drawn and, with a re-registration of church members, the Old Colony Church was a reality. World War I aggravated the conserver oriented Old Colony Mennonites, stimulating a migration to Mexico—and a culture of migration—to avoid contact with the modern world.
Wilson, Andrew, Brian Lonabocker and Megan Zagorski. 2015. “Online Mapping Tools for Geolocating Amish Settlements.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 3(2):202-11.
This technical note demonstrates the value of using online mapping tools as a method of geolocating Amish settlements. Primarily using freely available Bing and Google maps and published lists of the addresses of Amish ministers, we geolocated 1,362 Amish households in Ohio and 1,203 in Pennsylvania, representing about 10% of Amish households in those states. From these data we were able to derive a population density map of the Amish across Ohio and Pennsylvania. We caution that our map is merely a model and based on several assumptions, but the product is a finer resolution map of Amish distribution than has previously been published. We add that the locations of Amish schools provide another promising avenue for geolocation of Amish settlements, but we were not able to locate sufficiently comprehensive lists to include them in our analysis.
Wright, Dawn Garrett, M. Eve Main and M. Susan Jones. 2016. “Anabaptist Members' Perceptions and Preferences Related to Healthcare.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 4(2):187-200.
The plain Anabaptists are thought to differ from mainstream U.S. health care beliefs and practices. Many non-Anabaptist health care providers have limited knowledge of the specific health beliefs and preferences of Anabaptists, which can lead to misunderstandings. The purpose of this descriptive qualitative study was to collect information from Anabaptist community members related to health care beliefs and preferences in their communities. Participants, who were members of various plain Anabaptist communities, completed a questionnaire containing open-ended questions about health issues. Seven themes emerged in results: (1) health viewed as a gift from God that provides the ability to work; (2) concern about exposure to chemicals and food additives as health risks; (3) the use of a variety of resources from lay members in the community in addition to seeking information from professionals; (4) the desire to use natural remedies first with outside care being sought when deemed necessary; (5) barriers to seeking professional healthcare were mainly related to cost, time, and provider attitudes; (6) maintenance of a good diet, being active and having good dental care were important preventative activities; and (7) expectation of respect, engagement and caring from providers.
Ziegler, Dan. 2015. “An Assessment of the Educational Choices of Emerging Adults from a Small Mennonite Denomination and their Later Church and Service Involvement.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 3(1):45-70.
This study was designed to provide Rosedale Bible college, a Conservative Mennonite Conference school in Ohio, with critical information to increase its understanding of the educational choices of emerging adults from its sponsoring denomination and the way those choices correlate with church involvement and volunteerism later in life. The study also offers a glimpse into the educational and religious context of these young adults and the denomination they were part of as youth. A 16-question survey was distributed to 1,068 individuals ages 26-32 who attended one of the denomination’s churches when in high school. The survey queried respondents on personal data, educational choices, church involvement, and volunteerism. A total of 240 valid surveys were received, including 47 respondents who had attended the denomination’s college. Through cross tabulation and testing for statistical significance, the research found that attendance at the denomination’s college was moderately related to greater regular church attendance compared to those who did not attend the college. In addition, attendance at the college was moderately related to a lower likelihood of regular civic volunteerism. Research also found a strong relationship between a secular education and a lower likelihood of regular church attendance later in life, compared to those who participated in formal religious educational experiences as young people.
Zimmerman, Janelle. 2015. “Practicality and Identity as Functions of Education in Old Order Mennonite and Hutterite Communities.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 3(1):71-93.
This study is an exploration of common structures, theories, and practices among the educational systems of selected Anabaptist communities, focusing on a Midwestern Schmeideleut Hutterite community and the Groffdale Conference (Old Order) Mennonites in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Building on ideas of utopian communities, this research suggests two key foci of education as practiced in Hutterite and Old Order Mennonite communities. The first is identity, both of the community—as manifested by a common purpose and identity—and of the individual—as manifested by a belief in free will. The second is practicality, both in the physical (pragmatic) and metaphysical (idealistic) realm. Anabaptist communities tend to perceive education as highly important to the continued meaningful existence of the community because education serves as a means of socializing children and youth into community norms, standards, and beliefs.