Amish man and woman fixing roof


Continuity and Change: 50 Years
of Amish Society

June 9-11, 2016

The international conference will focus on changes and consistency within Amish communities during the years 1963 to 2013. This fifty-year time period is framed by the publication of Amish Society by John Hostetler (1963) and The Amish by Donald Kraybill, Karen Johnson-Weiner, and Steven Nolt (2013). The conference will highlight the many significant changes among the Amish during these five decades, such as population growth, cultural diversity, landmark legal decisions, the explosion of Amish-themed literature and media, health care issues, and the increasing involvement of Amish people in business. Speakers will also explore themes of continuity in Amish society such as family life, leadership patterns, dress, language, and transportation, among others. In addition, the conference will emphasize the advance and expansion of scholarship about the Amish. (View conference brochure.)

Live streaming: If you can't join us in person, please join our live video stream for three sessions:

Thursday, June 9
"Amish Society: Continuity and Dynamism in a Hyper-Modern World"
Steven Nolt
Join Live Stream
Read Abstract
Friday, June 10
"Continuity and Change in the Lives of Amish Women"
Karen Johnson-Weiner 
Join Live Stream
Read Abstract
Saturday, June 11
"Worms in the Amish Software: Coping with Risk in a Cyber World"
Donald Kraybill
Join Live Stream
Read Abstract


The conference will include more than 60 presentations in a variety of formats: plenary lectures, academic paper presentations, panel discussions, seminars, and poster sessions.

Who should attend?  Scholars, researchers,  health care professionals,  extension educators, government officials, and others who study or serve members of Amish or other Plain communities. The conference will provide a forum for exploring the dynamic forces for change and preservation in Amish life, understanding continuities and innovations in economic activity among the Amish, reviewing significant developments in Amish population growth, migration and family life, and discovering and sharing resources for understanding Amish culture. Continuing Education Units  are available to attendees.


“Amish Society: Continuity and Dynamism in a Hyper-Modern World”
Steven Nolt

During the past half century Amish society has attracted attention for its remarkable persistence in the midst of modern North American. Yet the fact that the Amish survive and thrive has just as surely been a result of their ability to adapt to changing circumstances. Steve Nolt will consider key developments in Amish society and its relationship with wider social forces since the mid-twentieth century. In charting these patterns he will suggest what they may say about the possibilities and limits of American pluralism today, as well as for the future of a dynamic and increasingly diverse Amish world in the twenty-first century.

Steve Nolt is a professor of history at Goshen (Ind.) College and will begin his new role as the Young Center's senior scholar this summer. His newest book, The Amish: A Concise Introduction, was published by the Johns Hopkins University Press in March 2016. Other recent publications include A History of the Amish, 3rd ed. (2015) and, with Donald Kraybill and Karen Johnson-Weiner, The Amish (2013). 



  • “The ABCs of Amish Quilts: Abstract Art, Big Business, and Country Craft” by Janneken Smucker, a fifth-generation Mennonite quilt maker and assistant professor of history at West Chester University

  • “Medicine and the Modern Amish” by Martha King, an anthropologist and folklorist currently working as a lecturer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 

  • “Mental Health Treatment and the Old Order Amish: Through the Looking Glass” by Jim Cates, psychologist in private practice in northeast Indiana and the author of Serving the Amish: A Cultural Guide for Professionals

  • “Are the Amish Models of Environmental Stewardship? Exploring the Amish Relationship with Nature” by David L. McConnell, professor of anthropology at the College of Wooster, and Lyn D. Loveless, professor of biology emeritus at the College of Wooster

  • “Reality TV Amish” by Dirk Eitzen, director of the film and media studies program at Franklin & Marshall College


For an additional fee, conference attendees may register for one of three tours on Thursday, June 9:

  • Agriculture: Participants visit Amish farms and see new agricultural ventures developed by Amish farmers.

  • Business Enterprises: Participants visit Amish businesses and talk with the proprietors about their involvement in the business world of Lancaster County and beyond. 

  • Health Care and Medical Services: Participants visit facilities that provide medical treatment for Amish patients and learn about various ways that health care is provided. NOTE THAT THE HEALTH CARE TOUR IS NOW FULL.


The conference opens at 1:00 pm on Thursday, June 9, and closes at 12:30 on Saturday, June 11. The complete schedule is now available.


Cost for the full conference is $250. Cost for full-time students and members of Plain communities is $150. The registration deadline is May 20.

Registration options: (1) Register online and pay by credit card. (2) Fax your registration form and payment information to (717) 361-1443. (3) Mail your registration form and payment to Amish Conference 2016, Young Center, Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, PA 17022-2298.


Limited housing is available in residence halls and apartment buildings on the college campus. The conference has also negotiated special rates at several local hotels


Elizabethtown College is located in northwestern Lancaster County, approximately 90 minutes from Baltimore, two hours from Philadelphia, three hours from Washington, D.C., and four hours from New York City and Pittsburgh. The interactive campus map shows the location of the Young Center and other facilities on the college campus.


If you have questions about the conference, please send an e-mail to Amish or call (717) 361-1470.