The printed word–that is, actual ink-on-paper printed word–is still going strong among the Amish.
As more and more of us consume media on electronic devices, Plain families across North America continue to get their news and other written information the old-fashioned way.
It’s no surprise that there are scores of Amish-produced publications–in fact, one Amish publisher counted 50-plus subscription publications among his people.
These include correspondence papers, newsletters, devotional periodicals, and other topical publications that cover everything from buggy-making to special needs education (see The Amish, p. 374-75).
Below I’ve listed five of the more popular Amish periodicals. If you’d like to learn what Amish enjoy writing and reading about, you might like these publications. With that in mind, I’ve also included subscription info for each.
Five Amish Publications You Might Like (w/Subscribe Info)
1. The Budget
We start with one that is not technically produced by Amish, but rather, widely-read by Amish. This Sugarcreek, Ohio-based weekly newspaper has two versions, a Local and a National edition.
The National Edition primarily consists of letters from mainly Amish and Mennonite scribes giving local news from their communities across America and beyond.
Scribes write in with news on the weather, births, accidents, church, and other events. If you visit a scribe, you might even see your name in print the following week.
There are some other features including info on showers, obits, and quite a few ads.
The Local Edition is the National Edition, plus a more traditional paper covering Sugarcreek and parts of Holmes and Tuscarawas counties.
To be honest, since there are a lot of similar reports, Budget letters are not always the most captivating reading, but they do give you a look at everyday Amish life and tell you what other Amish people are interested in knowing.
There are different prices based on which edition, and if choosing the Local Edition, whether you live in Ohio or not.
6 months – $32
1 year – $45
2 years – $82
The Budget Newspaper
PO Box 249
134 North Factory Street
Sugarcreek Ohio 44681
From The Budget website: Subscriptions need to be prepaid. We accept Visa, Mastercard (by phone) or check or money order by mail only. We do not accept checks over the telephone. Office hours are 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. EST Monday through Friday.
Info on the Local Edition can be found at the paper’s website here: thebudgetnewspaper.com/subscriptioninformation.html
2. Family Life
This black-and-white monthly publication is produced by Pathway Publishing, an Amish company out of Aylmer, Ontario.
Karen Johnson-Weiner describes Pathway’s publishing activities as “actively examin[ing] Old Order beliefs.” As the editors note in discussing their mission: “We at Aylmer feel very strongly that our church is not becoming a ‘dead’ culture; therefore, we try to instruct our young people in the whys and wherefores of all practices” (see The Amish and the Media, p. 209).
Likewise, much of Family Life consists of fictional stories, or (often-anonymous) first-person pieces which teach a lesson, discuss a challenge, or emphasize particular values important to Amish and Mennonites.
There are also regular features including a health questions column, Homemaker’s Page, Letters to the Editors, Problem Corner, quizzes and poems, and a historical feature, Yesterdays and Years. These generally appear either in every issue or every other issue.
Family Life has a very plain feel which appears to have changed little over the nearly half-century since it was started in 1967. The only “ads” are occasional notices from the editors about publications that readers might be interested in (no classifieds or image ads in this one).
I appreciate Family Life for the insights it gives into Amish life. It reflects both the ideals Amish as Christians aspire to, and the problems they face as real people.
This is a very inexpensive publication, costing $11 for a year’s subscription (11 issues). You can also get it combined with two other Pathway publications, Young Companion (covering youth issues) and Blackboard Bulletin (on schooling), for $21. If in the US, you’ll need to include enough postage to get to Canada, which the editors tell us is $1.15 for 1 or 2 ounces.
10380 Carter Road
Aylmer, Ontario N5H 2R3
3. The Diary
This is a Lancaster County-based correspondence paper which is similar to The Budget in that the bulk of the paper consists of hundreds of scribe letters from Amish correspondents across North America (a recent issue had reports from 26 states, Ontario, and Belize).
However compared to The Budget, this could be described as more distinctly Amish (there is a separate but tiny “Mennonite” section in The Diary, but the focus of the paper is Old Order Amish).
This is also seen reflected in reports on church districts divisions, minister ordinations, and migrations. The Diary also contains listings of births, marriages, and accidents (recent accidents include “Scalded in Hot Water”, “Buggy Hit by Semi”, and “Man Hurt While Butchering Pigs”) as well as shower requests for the ill, injured, and others who have encountered hardship.
Compared to The Budget, The Diary has a less commercial feel, with few advertisements, and an overall “plainer”appearance reflecting its Old Order Amish management and orientation. The cover describes The Diary as “A contribution of the church for the church by the church in the interest of collecting and preserving its historical virtues.”
Unlike the weekly Budget, this is a monthly publication, and costs $25/year.
P.O. Box 88
Kirkwood, PA 17536
4. Plain Communities Business Exchange
This informational and advertising monthly is for those interested in business issues or looking for Plain businesses and products.
A recent issue included 19 articles, among them “Industry Insider” features (interviews and profiles of businesses such as Pioneer Equipment, a horse-drawn equipment maker), and advice articles covering topics such as financial issues and other business-related questions.
Plain Communities Business Exchange is also a popular advertising venue, and if you enjoy ads for Amish and other Plain businesses, you’ll probably like the many ads in the publication.
I generally quite like the advertisements in these publications as they give a back-door look at the needs and interests of Amish, in this case business owners. For example, ads in the April 2015 issue cover everything from battery typewriters to tubular skylights to “computerless email” to something called the EZ-Gluer.
We’ll have more on Plain Communities Business Exchange next week in a special interview with the publication.
1 Year – $15
2 Years – $28
3 Years – $49
P.O. Box 520
Millersburg, PA 17061
New subscriptions may take up to 6 weeks for first delivery.
5. The Connection
This is a fun publication out of Topeka, Indiana which we’ve featured here before. It consists of regular columnists sharing stories about their lives and other topics.
Compared to the letters in The Budget or The Diary, which are often a repetition of facts and occurrences, these contributions are more personal, interesting and thoughtful, and there is a wider variety of topics covered.
An entire page is devoted to each column, though there are considerably fewer contributors compared to the number of scribes for the correspondence newspapers.
Here’s a sample from Jr. Kaufman’s column “Reaching for the Heights”, in which he discusses preparing for church:
Having church in our homes is in keeping with the simple lifestyle that we profess to live. It also spreads out the work load to all that are able to take part.
While I am writing this I am aware that there are Amish churches that have churchhouses to meet in. I respect that and do not wish to knock them in any way.
Sometimes it is good to look at all the work and activities with a bit of humor. A few years ago the weather was extra warm, and as we were in the weeks of preparation, some good friends and neighbors sent a “Care Box” to help us through those warm times with the extra work and heat. In it were found; a container of delicious rhubarb punch to cool us off, a good meal to strengthen our weary bodies, and a bottle of Rolaids to take care of the heartburn that is brought on by stress.
It felt good to see the “lighter side” of the work associated with church preparation. I believe humor helps us to keep things in their proper perspective. I believe our bishop stated it well when he said, “A merry heart doth good like a medicine. We take it by the teaspoon or by the tablespoon, not by the gallon.”
Other features include book reviews, a monthly profile of a different Amish school, Featured Craftsman profiling a business, a few recipes, a health column, and a kids section. Of all these publications, The Connection comes closest to a magazine feel, with a lot of color throughout.
The Connection costs $45 for 1 year (12 issues).
P.O. Box 603
Topeka, IN 46571
I hope this will be helpful for anyone interested in receiving one of these periodicals. What other Amish publications could you add to the list?
Budget newspaper image: homestead.org