Friday, June 3, 2022 • 1:15–2:45 pm
The Approach to Care at the Central Pennsylvania Clinic
This paper explores how care takes shape in the rooms of the Central Pennsylvania Clinic and in the homes of Amish families. For 20 weeks, I conducted participant-observation at the Central Pennsylvania Clinic as Dr. Holmes Morton provided genetic health care to Amish and Mennonite patients. I also conducted in-depth interviews with Amish parents in Mifflin and Juniata Counties, as well as with lay midwives. I argue that Dr. Morton’s approach to care is embodied by the concept of “translational medicine.” By translating genetic research into care protocols, biomedical jargon into comprehensible language, and patients’ lived experiences into scientific knowledge, he enacts care. For Amish parents, caring for their “special children” is an experience rife with spiritual and social significance. In addition to exploring care as a central theme, my research also addresses the tensions that emerge when Amish culture and biomedical culture collide. I also investigate the anti-medical perspectives that pervade Amish communities in central Pennsylvania, and examine how the advice, illness narratives, and rumors propagated through “the Amish grapevine” influence attitudes towards care providers and shape the care-seeking choices of Amish individuals. Thus, I emphasize that health-related knowledge is embedded in social relationships.
Lila Williams is a student of human evolutionary biology and social anthropology at Harvard University. She was the Mary Ellen Avery Fellow at the Central Pennsylvania Clinic in Belleville, Pa., during 2020 and 2021.
A Negative Hospital Experience Changes Patient-Centered Care for Plain People
Marlene F. Schmucker
Many health care systems are focused on providing patient-centered care (PCC) rather than disease-focused care. A key component of PCC is to engage patients and families with a goal of learning more about their cultural perspectives and their expectation of what matters most during their encounter with the health care system. When this key component is missing, conflict, miscommunication, and negative patient satisfaction may surface. This paper describes a situation in which a young Plain couple was admitted to a large university hospital and outlines the breakdown in communication and lack of cultural understanding and sensitivity. I also describe the responsive strategies taken by the hospital staff to rectify the situation including, but not limited to, attending a meeting in the Plain community seeking input into best practices to improve PCC for all Plain people. The population of Plain people is growing, as is their need for specialized care in university hospital settings. Thus, the interaction of Plain people and hospital staff is essential to improve PCC. Based on the negative hospital experience of this one young Plain couple, we delight in sharing the positive outcome: several potential nursing interventions reflecting patient-centered, culturally sensitive care have been implemented and will improve the PCC for Plain people admitted to the large university hospital in the future.
Marlene F. Schmucker is a clinical nurse at WeCare Clinic in Pembroke, Kentucky, and liaison between the Plain community and medical centers.
Amish Experience of COVID-19: Patterns of Behavior and Sources of Authority as Reported in Die Botschaft
This research provides a window into the Amish experience with COVID-19 via a content analysis of Amish-authored letters that appeared in 2020 and 2021 issues of Die Botschaft, a weekly correspondence newspaper with a national scope. The project involved coding some 10,000 Amish-authored letters from 2020 and 2021 and analyzing their content alongside national and local news sources, public health directives, and infection data. Because the newspaper’s letters are signed, dated, and indicate address, the resulting data can be sorted and analyzed across time, geographically, and by the gender of the writer. Coding categories included behaviors, reactions, concerns, illness reported, and sources of information about the virus. Each category had several subcategories. Concern to obey the government and concern to not offend fearful English neighbors were the major motivations for adhering to public health protocols in April and May 2020, more so than concern about illness itself. When local government and English neighbors’ responses became equivocal in late May and June, Amish motivation for adherence to public health protocols seemed to change.
Cecilia Stoner is a May 2022 graduate of Elizabethtown College, majoring in sociology and anthropology. She was the undergraduate editorial assistant for the journal Teaching Sociology.
The Swiss Amish of Adams County: New Insights into a Linguistic Exception
The Swiss Amish of Adams County, Indiana, are a linguistic exception in the Old Order Amish world. While the majority of Old Order Amish speaks Pennsylvania Dutch, the Swiss Amish have their own language, Amish Shwitzer. The first settlers of Adams County came from Sonnenberg (Wayne County, Ohio) and were followed by a significant migration wave from the Bernese (Swiss) and French Jura in 1852–1854. These migrants, both Mennonites and Amish, brought their Bernese Swiss German dialect to Adams County. The Swiss Amish have lived rather isolated from other Amish communities; however, they must have had a considerable amount of contact with Pennsylvania Dutch-speaking Amish, as a consequence of which the Amish Shwitzer dialect displays a great amount of Pennsylvania Dutch linguistic influence. Pennsylvania Dutch and Amish Shwitzer share a great deal of their grammatical system, yet they differ widely with regard to vocabulary. Drawing on our own fieldwork data, we will discuss the linguistic relationship between Amish Shwitzer, Pennsylvania Dutch, and Bernese German in greater detail. We will show which part of the lexicon and which part of the grammar these languages share and in what ways they differ from each other. Further, we will discuss what has caused the languages to converge and what is causing them to diverge. By doing so, we will give a broad picture of the linguistic situation of the Swiss Amish in Adams County, Indiana.
Anja Hasse is a postdoctoral researcher in the project “Amish Shwitzer as a Mixed Language with Closely Related Parents” funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. She studied Scandinavian studies, German and comparative Germanic linguistics at the Universities of Zurich and Uppsala. In 2018, she completed her PhD on morphological variation in Zurich German. Her research focuses are Germanic non-standard varieties, dialectology, and morphology.
Guido Seiler is a professor of Germanic linguistics at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. His research specialization lies at the interface between historical and variationist linguistics and theoretical modelling of grammatical structure and language change.
Neighboring Languages: Pennsylvania Dutch–English Bilingualism in Plain Society
Mark L. Louden
One of the most obvious ways that traditional Anabaptist groups in North America—not just Amish and Old Order Mennonites, but also Hutterites and Old Colony Mennonites—mark their distinctive social-spiritual identity outwardly is through the maintenance of a German-related vernacular language. These languages, of which Pennsylvania Dutch is the most widespread, are part of a complex sociolinguistic ecology that includes two other languages, namely English and an archaic form of standard German. Although a German-related vernacular is the mother tongue of nearly all traditional Anabaptists, multilingualism is the norm in Plain society and always has been since their arrival in North America. In this presentation, I will focus on the contact situation between specifically Pennsylvania Dutch and English in contemporary Amish and Old Order Mennonite communities. In addition to discussing the major domains in which each language is used, I will address the extent to which the languages influence one another structurally. Among Plain people themselves, there is a widespread impression that English, through borrowed vocabulary, is increasingly “infiltrating” Pennsylvania Dutch. Drawing on naturally produced oral and written language samples, I will show that the influence of English on Pennsylvania Dutch is both overstated and understated. I will conclude my presentation by briefly comparing Pennsylvania Dutch–English bilingualism among Amish and Old Order Mennonites to the sociolinguistic situations of other traditional Anabaptist groups, namely Shwitzer-speaking Swiss Amish, Hutterites, and Old Colony Mennonites, and Yiddish-speaking Hasidim.
Mark L. Louden is a fluent speaker of Pennsylvania Dutch and has written extensively on the language and its speakers. He is the author of Pennsylvania Dutch: The Story of an American Language. Louden is the Alfred L. Shoemaker, J. William Frey, and Don Yoder Professor of Germanic Linguistics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, directs the Max Kade Institute for German-American Studies, and is an affiliate faculty member in the UW Religious Studies Program. Aside from his teaching and research, Louden is actively engaged in public outreach to Amish communities in Wisconsin and other states, with a major focus on health care.
Language, Identity, and Attitudes: The Amish in Relation to Pennsylvania Dutch
Rose A. Fisher
Language use and identity are tightly interconnected. Using the results of a sociolinguistic survey, I explore some of the implications of this interconnection among the Amish as well as among people who descend from an Amish group. To what extent do members, former members, or nonpracticing descendants of the Amish identify as Pennsylvania Dutch? How do they view the language in relation to this identity? Are those who speak the language (or those who speak it well) likely to identify more closely with a Pennsylvania Dutch or Amish identity even if they are not current members? How do the attitudes of former members, who may or may not have been ostracized by their separatist communities, differ from those who are a generation or more removed from their Amish roots? The answers to these questions have broad implications for the interplay between attitudes, language use, and identity but more specifically have ramifications for how the Amish, and those who are affiliated with them in some way, engage with each other and with their non-Amish neighbors. How they use and view the language will impact, and in some cases determine, insider vs. outsider status, who can legitimately claim to identify as “Amish” or “Pennsylvania Dutch,” and who desires to stake such a claim.
Rose A. Fisher is a PhD student in German linguistics and language science at Penn State University. As a former member of the Old Order Amish community in Lancaster County, Pa., she grew up a native speaker of both Pennsylvania Dutch and English. Although she finds teaching the German language to undergraduates at Penn State highly rewarding, her research interests focus squarely on the language of her childhood, an inextricable and formative component of her own identity. Fisher strives to keep Amish cultural and religious values at the core of her investigations, as these are deeply embedded in the language that the Amish have spoken and passed on to their children in an English-dominated United States.
Formation of Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) by Amish Businesses
Donna M. Steslow
TLimited Liability Companies (LLCs) are a form of business in which the owners are protected from personal liability for the debts and liabilities of the business. LLCs are attractive to small businesses due to their flexibility and lack of formalities, unlike corporations. As a legal entity separate and apart from its owners, LLCs can sue and be sued without the owner personally participating in a lawsuit. This paper explores the trends in formation of LLCs by Amish businesses, focusing upon Centre, Mifflin, and Clinton Counties in Central Pennsylvania. Data on LLC formation through the Pennsylvania Department of State’s Corporation Bureau website will be analyzed, particularly examining when the LLC was created. Additionally, attorneys representing Amish businesses will be interviewed and surveyed to determine if there has been an increase in formation of LLCs by Amish businesses in recent years, and if these LLCs have been used for litigation such as debt collection or breach of contract.
Donna M. Steslow is professor of business law at Kutztown University, Kutztown, Pa. Her articles have appeared in Journal of Business Law and Ethics Pedagogy, Atlantic Law Journal, and Journal of Legal Studies Education.
Butter Churned or Costco Purchased? Purchasing Practices of Amish Women
Judith S. Stavisky
Having accompanied Amish women for more than ten years to over 60 different stores and shops owned or operated by Amish proprietors in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, I examine in depth the purchasing practices of Amish women. My research uses a convenience sample from a pool of Amish women who live in eastern Lancaster County. These women agreed to have me accompany them on multiple shopping excursions. Some Amish women are as comfortable in a cavernous Costco store, with its industrial-sized packages and discounted prices, as they are in the discreet Amish grocery, only a buggy ride away. Other Amish women may defer from purchasing products they cannot find locally or join a friend in hiring a driver to take them a little further afield to shop. And in a pinch, still others might order a special item online through Amazon, via their English friends. What impacts decisions on what to buy and where to purchase it? How do these Amish women negotiate the pressing need for certain items against the inconvenience of either a horse and buggy or arranging for an Amish taxi? I will explore the various factors that influence the decisions Amish women make that determine their purchases outside the home and which items will remain homemade.
Judith S. Stavisky is an adjunct professor at Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health and was formerly the national executive director of Friends of the Children and a senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Her book Amish Women in Plain View is scheduled to be published by Herald Press in fall 2022.
Challenges for Operating a Business as a Low-Tech Operation in a High-Tech World
This presentation will discuss how Amish businesses in several Ohio and Michigan communities operate their firms without internet, email, fax, telephone, and electricity. Issues to be discussed include taxes and business filings that must be completed online; banking locations, documents and photo ID requirements; placing orders in a fast-paced commercial world; and EIN numbers. The presentation is based on extensive consulting work with Amish business owners in relatively conservative Amish communities.
Jeremy Fryman is a professor in the Business, Criminal Justice and Information Technologies Department at Marion Technical College, Marion, Ohio. He was formerly employed by the Delaware County (Ohio) Engineer.
Plain Sect Community and Market Engagement for Land Preservation and Conservation
Lancaster Farmland Trust (LFT) was formed in 1988 to fulfill the need for a private organization to help Plain Sect farmers, who are often reluctant to become involved with government-funded programs, to preserve their land and protect the valuable natural resources entrusted to them. Today, LFT has established strong, trusting relationships with the Plain Sect farming community in Lancaster County. Of its 536 preserved farms, more than 75 percent are owned/operated by Old Order Amish and Mennonites. This unique relationship has allowed LFT exclusive access to a community where mainstream agricultural education is limited and cost-share funding is often refused for religious and philosophical reasons.
This presentation will discuss the positive community-building interaction between Amish and non-Amish neighbors around a shared concern: the preservation and conservation of Lancaster County farmland. I will address the Plain Sect community’s resistance to change and/or advice from people outside their church districts and their reticent acceptance of financial support from government programs. With these barriers came strategic adjustment in LFT’s approach to conservation work. I’ll also share LFT’s strategy to utilize trusted farm advisors to deliver tailored and consistent outreach and engagement opportunities. By meeting farmers on their land, LFT is doing the slow, but critical work of addressing concerns and guiding them through what, to many, are radical changes to generations-old farming practices. This multi-pronged strategy of elevating the economic and community value of conservation, building and utilizing the capacity of trusted farm advisors, creating a community commitment to conservation, engaging the marketplace, and developing creative approaches for community engagement has led to a bounty of Plain Sect farmers willing to preserve their land and implement conservation practices.
Jeb Musser is director of land protection at Lancaster Farmland Trust.
Land Ownership within Amish Settlements in Wisconsin: An Exploratory Study
John A. Cross
This study examines patterns of land ownership within a sample of Amish settlements in Wisconsin, selected to represent both new and longer established settlements, small and large, and settlements known for their involvement in dairying (both can and bulk milk producers) and those more focused on other occupations. Hypotheses are made regarding the proportion of the land that needs to be in Amish ownership for settlements to demonstrate sustained growth, and the mixture of Amish and non-Amish land ownership that characterizes Amish settlements established less than a half century ago. This study should provide greater understanding regarding the economic sustainability of the greater rural community in which Amish settlements are situated, given that socioeconomic linkages between the Amish and non-Amish residents of the towns in which they reside are incomplete. Within several of Wisconsin’s largest Amish communities, Amish residents own under half of the acreage within most of the survey sections in their communities. Within recently established Amish settlements, such as Westfield, the small number of Amish households in 2018 were spread among several noncontiguous sections, occupying less than 80 acres per section, which has since expanded with growth.
John A. Cross is a professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh. His research specializes in natural hazards, agriculture, ethnic landscapes and Amish settlement. He earned his PhD from the University of Illinois and served in numerous administrative roles, including chair of the Department of Geography from 1991–1997 and associate dean of the College of Letters and Science from 1997–2010. His recent publications include “Dairy Woes in Wisconsin: What about the Amish?” in the Journal of Plain Anabaptist Communities (2021) and “Old Order Dairy Farmers in Wisconsin” in Geographical Review (2021).
Good & Blessed Neighbors of Healing Springs: The Blackville, South Carolina, Community
Claire Marie Mensack
Healing Springs, South Carolina, is home to a Beachy Amish community of about 40 families. This community’s origins began in the late 1950s when a small handful of Old Order Amish families moved south for economic reasons. Over the course of a few years, the community changed from an Old Order Amish community to a Beachy Amish Mennonite Church community in which automobiles were allowed. The first few Amish families that settled in Healing Springs had livestock farms, construction businesses, hardware stores, and such. Today, these same families and their extended generations and additional new families thrive in this rural country setting of Blackville, South Carolina. This area is nestled in Barnwell County, which is known for God’s Acre Healing Springs Water and the Healing Springs Country Store. This store has been owned and operated by various Mennonite and Beachy Amish families. The current family that manages this store has done so since 2012. Additionally, there are Beachy Amish-owned construction companies, a strawberry farm, a quilt shop, and shed-building companies. This community interacts daily with the greater Blackville community in these businesses and other work venues. This study is a qualitative view of the church community and its economic history.
Claire Marie Mensack is an assistant professor of public health and community health at Lenoir Rhyne University, Hickory, North Carolina. She received her PhD from the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health.