Despite the overt patriarchy of Old Order Amish society, Amish women play a key role in maintaining the economic and social health of family and community. Drawing on qualitative research, including interviews of Amish women entrepreneurs and participant observation, this study explores the relationship between the Amish construction of gender and Amish women’s entrepreneurial activities. Although suggesting that Amish women are more likely to operate businesses that extend their culturally and religiously defined role as husband’s helpmeet, homemaker, and nurturer, it also explores how Amish women’s businesses are contributing to the growing diversity of the Amish world.
Do America’s plain Anabaptists take vacations? At first glance, it seems unlikely that an austere Christian sect would endorse spending large amounts of money on short excursions of pure leisure. Indeed, in a 1930s household expenditures survey that included Amish homes in Lancaster County, PA, Amish were more defined by their non-expenditures on leisure than today’s familiar indicators, such as technological restrictions (Reschly). And yet, vacationing is now routine among many plain Anabaptists. In this study, we explain the phenomenon of Amish-Mennonite international vacationing. The Amish-Mennonites are a branch within the greater Amish religious tradition. They represent the Amish who have chosen to blend evangelical Protestant theology into separatist communalism. They have also reduced the number and severity of norms regarding symbols and social mechanisms of separation, including convenience-oriented technologies and distinctive dress (Anderson, “Beachy Amish-Mennonite”).
Memoir writing has become a space of empowerment for those whose voices have been silenced, misrepresented, or not yet understood by the mainstream. Ira Wagler’s New York Times bestseller, Growing Up Amish (2011), can be viewed as a further extension of the body of literature that focuses on oppression, agency, and survival. In this essay I will survey universal literary themes in Wagler’s ex-Amish memoir—such as the father-son and identity conflicts—and situate them in Old Order Amish cultural contexts. I will further explore relevant genre conventions—including Patrick Madden’s theory of ‘new memoir’ from 2014—as well as the narrating I’s voice that reflect the Old Order Amish concept of Gelassenheit and the virtue of humility.