Collection Description

Culture Name


Culture Description

The Old Order Amish Mennonites are a people of Swiss-German background who migrated to the United States during two main periods from 1727-1790 and 1815-1865. The earlier migrants settled in Pennsylvania, while the later settled in Ohio, New York, Indiana, and Illinois. The Amish are characterized by the maintenance of a voluntary and disciplined community, separation from the “outside” world, adult rather than infant baptism, and emphasis on simple living.


Select the Culture Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.


North America --Regional and Ethnic Cultures


United States

OWC Code


Number of Documents


Note: Select the Collection Documents tab above to browse documents.

Number of Pages


Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in the eHRAF collection and are referenced by author, date of publication, and eHRAF document number.

The NM06 Amish collection consists of 24 documents, all in English, focusing primarily on the Old Order Amish Mennonite settlements in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana

from the early eighteenth century to approximately 2002. To a certain extent each of the documents noted above is ethnographic in scope. Virtually all of these consider the Amish way of life in light of their religious ideals, and most contain a discussion of Old World history and some description of the origins of various settlements in the New World. Hostetler (1980, no. 1) provides basic, comprehensive coverage of Amish life. This ethnography, first published in the 1960s and rewritten twenty years later, is an overview of the origins, values and continuity of social relations in the communities where the Amish reside. Although the author does not aim for a specific regional approach, he concentrates on the three largest settlements in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana, respectively, providing data on socialization, schooling, family patterns, as well as demographic and occupational trends. Perhaps the most exhaustive study of a specified Old Order Amish community with be found in Huntington (1964, no. 15). In this work, the author discusses interactions between various Old Order Amish and other Mennonite church districts in central Ohio and interrelations with the non-Amish. She considers the integration of multiple aspects of Amish life: the maintenance of social boundaries, the retention of an orientation to the past as this pertains to the preservation of cultural continuity, the social and economic integration with nature and the strict maintenance of a supportive church community. Bachman (1961, no. 4) is another basic text on traditions and practices that occur throughout the life cycle of the Amish in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The Amish struggle with modernity and culture change (or lack thereof) is a major topic in many of the documents in this collection. This theme is particularly noted in the Kraybill studies (Kraybill 1994, nos. 20-24), Huntington (1994, no. 25), Umble (1994, no. 26), Luthy (1994, no. 27), and Olshan (1994, nos. 31, 32, and 34). Hostetler &Huntington (1971, no. 3), Schwieder & Schwieder (1975, no. 2), and Huntington (1994, no. 25), all deal primarily with educational themes and issues, especially the rejection of secondary school education by the Amish. The economy, in terms of the development of cottage industries and small businesses, are topics described in Olshan (l994, no. 28), for New York State, and in more general terms in Kraybill &Nolt (1994, no. 29). Population growth and fertility patterns are discussed in Greksa (2002, no. 36), while Campanella, Korbin, &Acheson (1993, no. 37) deal with health care issues in reference to pregnancy and childbirth.

For more detailed information on the content of the individual works in this collection, see the abstracts preceding each document.

Overview by

John Beierle

John Beierle

Affiliation - a group of church districts that have a common discipline and that commune together; as an exclusive ceremonial group - use "RELIGIOUS DENOMINATIONS (795)" with "CONGREGATIONS (794)"

Amish and Mennonite sects - use "RELIGIOUS DENOMINATIONS (795)"

Armen Diener -deacons - use "CONGREGATIONS (794)"

Bundling (bed courtship) - use "ADOLESCENT ACTIVITIES (883)" and/or


Church districts - see Gemeinde

Diener zum Buch- preachers - use "CONGREGATIONS (794)"

Excommunication - use "RELIGIOUS OFFENSES (688)" and/or "RELIGIOUS DENOMINATIONS (795)"

Frolics - mutual aid given by men to one another generally in agricultural tasks - use "MUTUAL AID (476)"

Gemeinde -church district or community; the basic social unit of the Amish

Meidung- "shunning"; the social avoidance of ex-communicated members - use "RELIGIOUS OFFENSES (688)"

Old Order Amish Steering Committee - use ADMINISTRATIVE AGENCIES (647)"


Predestination - use "LUCK AND CHANCE (777)"

Silent discourse - use "GENERAL CHARACTER OF RELIGION (771)" with "SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS AND GROUPS (571)" and/or "CONVERSATION (521)" and/or "ETHOS (181)"

Volle Diener - bishops - use "PRIESTHOOD (793)"

This culture summary is based on the article "Amish" by John A. Hostetler in the Encyclopedia of World Cultures, Vol. 1, North America. 1991. Timothy O'Leary and David Levinson, eds. Boston, Mass.: G. K. Hall &Co. The synopsis and indexing notes were written by John Beierle in May 2007.

Indexing Notes by

John Beierle

Close Box