The Young Center staff conducts research related to Anabaptist and Pietist movements. Steven Nolt, interim director and senior scholar, carries out extensive research on the Amish and other Plain groups. Staff members Edsel Burdge and Cynthia Nolt assist with the research and with the preparation of publications.
Steve Nolt’s current projects include researching the history of Mennonites in Virginia from the eighteenth century to the present, with an interest in the role of place and regional context in shaping the Mennonite experience. He is also examining Amish political participation with Kyle Kopko of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, and several student researchers. The project examines rates of Amish voter registration and turnout in select settlements across the United States, and it seeks to put those rates in context via interviews with Amish individuals, key elected officials, and political activists who have tried to engage members of the Plain community. Two other components of the research are fielding a survey with the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin and Marshall College on popular perceptions of Amish images used in political campaigns and looking for evidence of Amish civic involvement and non-involvement across time.
Through its fellows program, the Young Center also promotes research on Anabaptism and Pietism by helping support scholars and doctoral students from around the world purse their own research. The lectures and programs at the Young Center provide opportunities for the general public to learn more about Anabaptism and Pietism through research conducted at the Young Center.