Research Programs: Collaborative Research

Period of Performance

7/1/2005 - 6/30/2009

Funding Totals

$100,000.00 (approved)
$100,000.00 (awarded)

Amish Diversity and Identity: Transformations in 20th Century America

FAIN: RZ-50336-05

Elizabethtown College (Elizabethtown, PA 17022-2297)
Donald B. Kraybill (Project Director: October 2004 to September 2010)

Publication of a book on the Amish in twentieth-century America, along with the convening of a conference devoted to that subject, and creation of a website about the Amish and an annotated bibliography of Amish studies. (36 months)

Elizabethtown College (PA) requests $257,583 for a three-year collaborative research grant to support three scholars and two research associates in a study of the transformation of Amish diversity and identity in 20th century America. Despite their rejection of many aspects of 20th century America--the automobile, public electricity, television, computers, high school education, and Social Security--the Amish have flourished. Using historical documents and oral histories, the project will explore: 1) the growth of Amish diversity, 2) the construction of Amish identity, 3) changing American conceptions of the Amish, and 4) Amish contributions to American self-understandings of religious liberty. The project will boost our scholarly knowledge of the Amish and disseminate the results by producing: 1) a seminal book on the Amish in the 20th century, 2) a major academic conference, 3) an annotated bibliography of Amish studies, and 4) an academic website for scholars and students. The interdisciplinary study will provide the first scholarly synthesis and understanding of the Amish in the American experience in the 20th century. Outcomes of the project will provide resources to stimulate new research in the humanities on the Amish and other religious subcultures.

Associated Products

The Amish (Book)
Title: The Amish
Author: Steven M. Nolt
Author: Donald B. Kraybill
Author: Karen M. Johnson-Weiner
Abstract: The Amish have always struggled with the modern world. Known for their simple clothing, plain lifestyle, and horse-and-buggy mode of transportation, Amish communities continually face outside pressures to modify their cultural patterns, social organization, and religious world view. A portrait of Amish life, The Amish explores not only the emerging diversity and evolving identities within this distinctive American ethnic community, but also its transformation and geographic expansion. Donald B. Kraybill, Karen M. Johnson-Weiner, and Steven M. Nolt spent twenty-five years researching Amish history, religion, and culture. Drawing on archival material, direct observations, and oral history, the authors provide an authoritative and sensitive understanding of Amish society. Amish people do not evangelize, yet their numbers in North America have grown from a small community of some 6,000 people in the early 1900s to a thriving population of more than 275,000 today. The largest populations are found in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana, with additional communities in twenty-seven other states and Ontario. The authors argue that the intensely private and insular Amish have devised creative ways to negotiate with modernity that have enabled them to thrive in America. The transformation of the Amish in the American imagination from "backward bumpkins" to media icons poses provocative questions. What does the Amish story reveal about the American character, popular culture, and mainstream values? Richly illustrated, The Amish is a portrayal of the Amish in America in the twenty-first century.
Year: 2013
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: WorldCat listing
Secondary URL:
Secondary URL Description: Publisher's listing
Access Model: Book
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Type: Multi-author monograph
ISBN: 9781421409146
Copy sent to NEH?: Yes