Peculiar People: Iowa's Old Order Amish

Overview

Now back in print with a new essay, this classic of Iowa history focuses on the Old Order Amish Mennonites, the state’s most distinctive religious minority. Sociologist Elmer Schwieder and historian Dorothy Schwieder began their research with the largest group of Old Order Amish in the state, the community near Kalona in Johnson and Washington counties, in April 1970; they extended their studies and friendships in later years to other Old Order settlements as well as the ...
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A Peculiar People: Iowa's Old Order Amish

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Overview

Now back in print with a new essay, this classic of Iowa history focuses on the Old Order Amish Mennonites, the state’s most distinctive religious minority. Sociologist Elmer Schwieder and historian Dorothy Schwieder began their research with the largest group of Old Order Amish in the state, the community near Kalona in Johnson and Washington counties, in April 1970; they extended their studies and friendships in later years to other Old Order settlements as well as the slightly less conservative Beachy Amish.

A Peculiar People explores the origin and growth of the Old Order Amish in Iowa, their religious practices, economic organization, family life, the formation of new communities, and the vital issue of education. Included also are appendixes giving the 1967 “Act Relating to Compulsory School Attendance and Educational Standards”; a sample “Church Organization Financial Agreement,” demonstrating the group’s unusual but advantageous mutual financial system; and the 1632 Dortrecht Confession of Faith, whose eighteen articles cover all the basic religious tenets of the Old Order Amish.

Thomas Morain’s new essay describes external and internal issues for the Iowa Amish from the 1970s to today. The growth of utopian Amish communities across the nation, changes in occupation (although The Amish Directory still lists buggy shop operators, wheelwrights, and one lone horse dentist), the current state of education and health care, and the conscious balance between modern and traditional ways are reflected in an essay that describes how the Old Order dedication to Gelassenheit—the yielding of self to the interests of the larger community—has served its members well into the twenty-first century.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“An excellent inventory of the life and customs of today’s Iowa Amish and probably the best book ever done on the faith in the Midwest.”—Des Moines Register
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781587298059
  • Publisher: University of Iowa Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/2009
  • Series: Bur Oak Book
  • Edition description: Expanded
  • Pages: 204
  • Sales rank: 548,590
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Elmer Schwieder (1925–2005) was emeritus professor of sociology at Iowa State University. With Dorothy Schwieder he wrote Buxton: A Black Utopia in the Heartland. Dorothy Schwieder is emerita professor of history at Iowa State University and the author or coauthor of, among others, Iowa: The Middle Land and Growing Up with the Town: Family and Community on the Great Plains (Iowa, 2002). Thomas Morain is the author of, among others, Prairie Grass Roots: An Iowa Small Town in the Early Twentieth Century; formerly director of research and interpretation at Iowa’s Living History Farms, he is currently director of community outreach at Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa.
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Table of Contents

A Peculiar People in a Brave New World: Iowa's Old Order Amish in Recent Years Thomas J. Morain ix

Preface xx

1 The Old Order in Iowa 2

2 Origin and Growth 9

3 Religious Practices 23

4 Economic Organization 37

5 Family Life 54

6 Mobility and New Communities 80

7 The School Controversy 94

8 The Vital Issue: Education 113

9 The Beachy Amish 129

10 The Plain People in the Midwest 141

Appendixes

A An Act Relating to Compulsory School Attendance and Educational Standards 153

B Church Organization Financial Agreement 155

C The Dortrecht Confession of Faith 156

Notes 169

Bibliography 178

Index 185

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