Amish Life Across North America

A Different Form of Modernity


"The Amish people are neither relics of a bygone era nor a people misplaced in time." This statement by John A. Hostetler from, Amish Life , disputes the customary view that the Amish today are somehow a throwback from a different era. Today's Amish have a thriving culture that seems more distant and yet somehow more magnetic to us every year. According to Hostetler, "they have reached conclusions different from most moderns about how to live in today's world, and they are living examples of a different form of modernity."

The exhibition provides an in-depth, inside view of Amish society--using color and black-and-white photographs and antique quilts, clothing, tools, toys and dolls. It includes intimate, sensitive images of the Amish and their surroundings, and contributes to a greater understanding of the people, customs, and their land.

The Amish originated in the Anabaptist movement of 1525-1526 which created several Christian communities that still survive today: the Mennonites of the Netherlands, the Hutterites of Austria, and the Swiss Brethren. The Amish are a branch of the Swiss group, taking their name from Elder Jacob Ammann. All of the Anabaptist groups were persecuted in Europe by both Protestants and Catholics and they arrived in this country during the 18th century. Their ability to manage farms and transform unproductive land into fertile fields was passed down through generations, and as early as the 17th century they practiced crop rotation, indoor feeding of livestock, meadow irrigation, the use of animal fertilizer, and the cultivation of new varieties of clover as a means of restoring soil fertility.

In the accompanying text, Donald Kraybill--author of the highly acclaimed Riddle of Amish Culture and Old Order Amish: Their Enduring Way of Life-- explains how a traditional people have managed not merely to survive but flourish in the midst of modern life. Some of the photographers featured include Doyle Yoder, Leslie A. Kelly, Lucian Niemeyer, Richard K. Reinhold, Edgar M. Sachs and other well-known photographers.

The exhibition will include over 100 color 20 x 30 photographs, 150 color 10 x 14 photographs and 50 black-and-white 24 x 36 photographs, and an outstanding collection of valuable antique toys, dolls, Amish and Mennonite quilts, hats, and items of clothing, tools and furniture. The quilts are characterized by bold colors and patterns, but yet have a restraint and delicate balance, They are exceptional today as a statement of a people with firm roots and strong identity. Smaller subject exhibitions will also be available on Amish barns and architecture; children and animals; farming techniques; or Amish women.

Blair-Murrah will work with you to develop related educational programs. A 54-minute video, The Amish--A People of Preservation , will be included as well as books and publications available for resale. Recognized authorities will be available for individual lectures or for a series.