Strangers at Home: Amish and Mennonite Women in History

Overview

This collection of original essays focuses on the rich, historically diverse, and often misunderstood experiences of Amish, Mennonite, and other women of Anabaptist traditions across 400 years. Equal parts sociology, religious history, and gender studies, the book explores the changing roles and issues surrounding Anabaptist women in communities ranging from sixteenth-century Europe to contemporary North America. Gathered under the overarching theme of the insider/outsider distinction, the essays discuss, among ...

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Strangers at Home: Amish and Mennonite Women in History

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Overview

This collection of original essays focuses on the rich, historically diverse, and often misunderstood experiences of Amish, Mennonite, and other women of Anabaptist traditions across 400 years. Equal parts sociology, religious history, and gender studies, the book explores the changing roles and issues surrounding Anabaptist women in communities ranging from sixteenth-century Europe to contemporary North America. Gathered under the overarching theme of the insider/outsider distinction, the essays discuss, among other topics:

•How womanhood was defined in early Anabaptist societies of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and how women served as central figures by convening meetings across class boundaries or becoming religious leaders •How nineteenth-century Amish tightened the connections among the individual, the family, the household, and the community by linking them into a shared framework with the father figure at the helm •The changing work world and domestic life of Mennonite women in the three decades following World War II •The recent ascendency of antimodernism and plain dress among the Amish •The special difficulties faced by scholars who try to apply a historical or sociological method to the very same cultural subgroups from which they derive The essays in this collection follow a fascinating journey through time and place to give voice to women who are often characterized as the "quiet in the land." Their voices and their experiences demonstrate the power of religion to shape identity and social practice.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Mennonite Quarterly Review
Strangers at Home makes a major contribution to our understanding of Anabaptist history and the ongoing construction of Anabaptist identity. Moreover, in investigating the role of religion and ethnicity in framing the choices available to individuals and communities, the essays in Strangers at Home consider the historical construction of gender in Anabaptist cultures in the larger context of women's history and, in so doing, question assumptions about the field of women's history itself.

— Karen M. Johnson-Weiner

Agricultural History
Amish and Mennonite women occupy a unique niche in rural America, and the intricate, complex essays in Strangers at Home demonstrates a maturity in their study.... The essays are uniformly sophisticated, interesting, and worthwhile.

— Rebecca Sharpless

Annals of Iowa
This work is significant both for its breadth... and for offering glimpses into the varieties of Mennonite and Amish life.

— Rachel Waltner Goosen

Der Reggeboge
A unique and significant contribution not only to the body of scholarship on Anabaptist women, but to the study of women's experiences in ethnoreligious groups in general.

— Erin Roth

Journal of American History
These essays add to the diversification of the historiography of women, raising in fresh ways questions of ethnicity, religion, and individual-community relationships. Their publication is a milestone in Anabaptist scholarship.

— Steven M. Nolt

Utopian Studies
This collection of essays is an extraordinary contribution to the scholarly study of Anabaptist women.

— Laura H. Weaver

Journal of Mennonite Studies
All who follow the invitation of the young woman features on the dust jacket to explore the experiences of the women who share the predicament finding themselves Strangers at Home, will be greatly enriched.

— Lucille Marr

Conrad Grebel Review
This collection represents a fresh and much needed approach to Anabaptist studies.

— Esther Epp-Tiessen

Mennonite Quarterly Review - Karen M. Johnson-Weiner

Strangers at Home makes a major contribution to our understanding of Anabaptist history and the ongoing construction of Anabaptist identity. Moreover, in investigating the role of religion and ethnicity in framing the choices available to individuals and communities, the essays in Strangers at Home consider the historical construction of gender in Anabaptist cultures in the larger context of women's history and, in so doing, question assumptions about the field of women's history itself.

Agricultural History - Rebecca Sharpless

Amish and Mennonite women occupy a unique niche in rural America, and the intricate, complex essays in Strangers at Home demonstrates a maturity in their study.... The essays are uniformly sophisticated, interesting, and worthwhile.

Annals of Iowa - Rachel Waltner Goosen

This work is significant both for its breadth... and for offering glimpses into the varieties of Mennonite and Amish life.

Der Reggeboge - Erin Roth

A unique and significant contribution not only to the body of scholarship on Anabaptist women, but to the study of women's experiences in ethnoreligious groups in general.

Journal of American History - Steven M. Nolt

These essays add to the diversification of the historiography of women, raising in fresh ways questions of ethnicity, religion, and individual-community relationships. Their publication is a milestone in Anabaptist scholarship.

Utopian Studies - Laura H. Weaver

This collection of essays is an extraordinary contribution to the scholarly study of Anabaptist women.

Journal of Mennonite Studies - Lucille Marr

All who follow the invitation of the young woman features on the dust jacket to explore the experiences of the women who share the predicament finding themselves Strangers at Home, will be greatly enriched.

Conrad Grebel Review - Esther Epp-Tiessen

This collection represents a fresh and much needed approach to Anabaptist studies.

Booknews
Fifteen original essays explore the changing roles of Anabaptist women in communities ranging from 16th century Europe to the contemporary US. Contributors also address the unique challenges facing scholars who are insiders. Includes photographs of women engaged/dressed in typical and less typical activities/garb. Based on the first academic conference on the subject in 1995 at Millersville U., PA. Schmidt teaches history at Eastern Mennonite U. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801867866
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2002
  • Series: Center Books in Anabaptist Studies
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 1,252,947
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.23 (d)

Meet the Author

Kimberly D. Schmidt is an assistant professor of history and director of the Washington Community Scholars Center of Eastern Mennonite University. Diane Zimmerman Umble is chair and an associate professor of communications at Millersville University. Steven D. Reschly is an associate professor of history at Truman State University.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

Contents:

Acknowledgments

Introduction: Insiders and Outsiders - Kimberly D. Schmidt, Diane Zimmerman Umble, and Steven D. Reschly

Part I: Practice Makes Gender

1 Insights and Blindspots: Writing History from Inside and Outside - Hasia R. Diner

2 Who Are You? The Identity of the Outsider Within - Diane Zimmerman Umble

3 "To Remind Us of Who We Are": Multiple Meanings of Conservative Women's Dress - Beth E. Graybill

4 River Brethren Breadmaking Ritual - Margaret C. Reynolds

5 The Chosen Women: The Amish and the New Deal - Katherine Jellison



Part 2: Creating Gendered Communities

6 Meeting around the Distaff : Anabaptist Women in Augsburg - Jeni Hiett Umble

7 "Weak Families" in the Green Hell of Paraguay - Marlene Epp

8 "The Parents Shall Not Go Unpunished": Preservationist Patriarchy and Community - Steven D. Reschly

9 Mennonite Missionary Martha Moser Voth in the Hopi Pueblos, 1893-1910 - Cathy Ann Trotta

10 Schism: Where Women's Outside Work and Insider Dress Collided - Kimberly D. Schmidt



Part 3: (Re) creating Gendered Traditions

11 Speaking up and Taking Risks: Anabaptist Family and Household Roles in Sixteenth-Century Tirol - Linda Huebert Hecht

12 Household, Coffee Klatsch, and Office: The Evolving Worlds of Mid-Twentieth-Century Mennonite Women - Royden K. Loewen

13 Voices Within and Voices Without: Quaker Women's Autobiography - Barbara Bolz

14 "We Weren't Always Plain": Poetry by Women of Mennonite Backgrounds - Julia Kasdorf

15 "She May Be Amish Now, but She Won't Be Amish Long": Anabaptist Women and Antimodernism - Jane Marie Pederson



Works Cited

Contributors

Index

Johns Hopkins University Press

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