Most of us have a vague idea of who the Amish are and what Amish society is like, but much of those narratives are influenced by deliberate campaigns to prey upon the Amish as a symbol in a religiopolitical argument (e.g., US Supreme Court case Wisconsin v. Yoder) or romanticized notions from scholars or writers who left the Amish (e.g., John Hostetler) or never even were Amish (e.g, Donald Kraybill). The latter allow a white patriarchal nostalgia and white male supremacism to shape their work and the former play into that same myth. Why? Because Kraybill’s whitewashed Amish brand is profitable in business, academia (e.g., Johns Hopkins University Press), and pop culture.
For those of us looking to build a deeper understanding of what it means to be Amish, or even just how the Amish operate in the world, this makes it all the more difficult to learn.
So we’ve compiled a list of some of the best ways to learn more about the Amish today and the nuances of their lives.
For the news lovers:
Get updates and resources about Amish culture each week via our newsletter. (BONUS: When you join, you also get a link to download “4 Popular Myths About the Amish”.)
For the bookworms:
Amish Girl in Manhattan is the tale of an Amish American girl whose childhood was so crushing that she literally escaped in the middle of the night at age 15, without telling anyone goodbye. She was forced to take such extreme action just to go to school past the 8th grade and live a life outside the one she was born into.
For those of you who love memoirs, true crime, and rich storytelling, this is the path for you.
For those of you who like a to-do list:
Take our free 5-day Challenge to learn the basics about Amish life, broken down into ~20-minute videos per day.
For the studious:
Check out this excellent keynote, “What About Children’s Rights? Overturning Wisconsin v. Yoder“, by lawyer and Prof. Marci Hamilton at our inaugural annual conference.
For the conferencegoers:
Keep an eye out for information about the next Amish Heritage Foundation conference. Get notified when the annual dates are confirmed.
Summer Intern, Amish Heritage Foundation