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Amish Women and the Great Depression

Katherine Jellison and Steven D. Reschly

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A detailed look at how Amish women sustained family farming during the Great Depression.

At the end of the Great Depression, the US Bureau of Agricultural Economics (BAE) designated the Old Order Amish of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the most economically and culturally stable agricultural community in the nation. In Amish Women and the Great Depression, Katherine Jellison and Steven D. Reschly examine the integral role that Amish women played in this Depression-era success story.

Making unprecedented use of quantitative data as well as qualitative accounts by and about Amish women, Jellison...

A detailed look at how Amish women sustained family farming during the Great Depression.

At the end of the Great Depression, the US Bureau of Agricultural Economics (BAE) designated the Old Order Amish of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the most economically and culturally stable agricultural community in the nation. In Amish Women and the Great Depression, Katherine Jellison and Steven D. Reschly examine the integral role that Amish women played in this Depression-era success story.

Making unprecedented use of quantitative data as well as qualitative accounts by and about Amish women, Jellison and Reschly reveal how Amish women sustained family farming during this devastating time. Using information from the federal government's 1935-1936 Study of Consumer Purchases (SCP), they closely examine the quantitative data related to Old Order Amish families and their neighbors in Lancaster County. SCP investigators approached women in these families to learn about household spending habits, farm crops and income, farm and household equipment, family size, home production, recreational practices, and dietary habits. Jellison and Reschly analyze the production and consumption activities of Amish women and their families as well as comparative data about the practices of their neighbors.

Amish Women and the Great Depression also incorporates a variety of qualitative sources to enliven the statistical analysis, including Old Order Amish women's diaries and memoirs; newspaper accounts by and about Amish women; government reports and related correspondence about the Lancaster County Amish; oral histories with elderly Old Order Amish people about their experiences in the 1930s; an oral history with Walter M. Kollmorgen, the author of the 1942 BAE study of Old Order Amish community stability; and photographs by New Deal photographers. This unique portrait of Depression-era farm life provides a historic look into the farming practices and daily lives of Amish women.

Reviews

Reviews

Well written and thoroughly researched, this book tells the history of Amish women in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, during the 1930s. Marshaling a great deal of both quantitative and qualitative evidence in its argument, this book draws the reader into the heart of women's worlds in the County.

How did Old Order Amish families fare during the economic crises of the 1930s? Deftly weaving new oral history and photographic evidence with an ambitious New Deal-era Works Progress Administration survey, the authors' deeply-researched portrait of Amish sustainability credits women and girls' productivity in house, yard, farm, and market.

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Book Details

Release Date
Publication Date
Status
Preorder
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
192
ISBN
9781421447971
Illustration Description
55 b&w photos, 1 map
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Working Together: Women and Men on the Amish Family Farm
2. Quilts and Clothing: Sewing for the Amish Family
3. Kitchen and Market: Producing Food for the Family and the

Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Working Together: Women and Men on the Amish Family Farm
2. Quilts and Clothing: Sewing for the Amish Family
3. Kitchen and Market: Producing Food for the Family and the Customers
4. Field and Barn: Raising Crops and Livestock
5. Friends and Frolics: Having Fun but Saving Money
6. Religion and Rituals: Preparing the Celebrations and Ceremonies
7. Accidents and Illness: Healing the Sick and Spreading the News
8. Insiders and Outsiders: Telling the Story of the Amish Farm Family
Conclusion
Appendix 1
Appendix 2
Notes
Index

Author Bios
Featured Contributor

Katherine Jellison

Katherine Jellison (ATHENS, OH) is a professor of history and director of the Central Region Humanities Center at Ohio University. She is the author of Entitled to Power: Farm Women and Technology, 1913-1963 and It’s Our Day: America’s Love Affair with the White Wedding, 1945-2005.
Featured Contributor

Steven D. Reschly

Steven D. Reschly (ST. CHARLES, MO) 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.