Skip to main content
Back to Results
Cover image of Strangers at Home

Strangers at Home

Amish and Mennonite Women in History

edited by Kimberly D. Schmidt, Diane Zimmerman Umble, and Steven D. Reschly

Publication Date
Binding Type

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...

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.

Reviews

Reviews

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

See All Reviews
About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
416
ISBN
9780801876851
Illustration Description
43 halftones, 2 line drawings
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: Insiders and Outsiders
Part I: Practice Makes Gender
Chapter 1. Insights and Blindspots: Writing History from Inside and Outside
Chapter 2. Who Are You? The Identity of the

Acknowledgments
Introduction: Insiders and Outsiders
Part I: Practice Makes Gender
Chapter 1. Insights and Blindspots: Writing History from Inside and Outside
Chapter 2. Who Are You? The Identity of the Outsider Within
Chapter 3. "To Remind Us of Who We Are": Multiple Meanings of Conservative Women's Dress
Chapter 4. River Brethren Breadmaking Ritual
Chapter 5. The Chosen Women: The Amish and the New Deal
Part II: Creating Gendered Communities
Chapter 6. Meeting around the Distaff : Anabaptist Women in Augsburg
Chapter 7. "Weak Families" in the Green Hell of Paraguay
Chapter 8. "The Parents Shall Not Go Unpunished": Preservationist Patriarchy and Community
Chapter 9. Mennonite Missionary Martha Moser Voth in the Hopi Pueblos, 1893-1910
Chapter 10. Schism: Where Women's Outside Work and Insider Dress Collided -
Part III: (Re) creating Gendered Traditions
Chapter 11. Speaking up and Taking Risks: Anabaptist Family and Household Roles in Sixteenth-Century Tirol
Chapter 12. Household, Coffee Klatsch, and Office: The Evolving Worlds of Mid-Twentieth-Century Mennonite Women
Chapter 13. Voices Within and Voices Without: Quaker Women's Autobiography
Chapter 14. "We Weren't Always Plain": Poetry by Women of Mennonite Backgrounds
Chapter 15. "She May Be Amish Now, but She Won't Be Amish Long": Anabaptist Women and Antimodernism
Works Cited
Contributors
Index

Author Bios
Featured Contributor

Diane Zimmerman Umble, Ph.D.

Diane Zimmerman Umble is a professor of communication at Millersville University, author of Holding the Line: The Telephone in Old Order Mennonite and Amish Life, and coeditor of Strangers at Home: Amish and Mennonite Women in History, both published by Johns Hopkins.
Steven D. Reschly
Featured Contributor

Steven D. Reschly

Steven D. Reschly is professor emeritus of history at Truman State University. He is the author of The Amish on the Iowa Prairie, 1840–1910, and a coeditor of Strangers at Home: Amish and Mennonite Women in History.
Resources

Additional Resources