The Amish: A to Z

An online resource on Amish culture

amish online encyclopediaThe Amish: A to Z covers a diverse range of topics, including Amish life, culture, and belief.

The 150+ articles below are based on academic research, author experience, and input from Amish themselves – including church leaders, lay members, and historians. You’ll find sources of further information at the end of each article.


A

Agriculture

Do all Amish farm? – A look at Amish dairy farming, produce farming, organic agriculture, as well as alternative occupations such as factory work and small business.
Do Amish use pesticides? – Explaining the Amish approach to chemicals and fertilizers on the farm. Answers the question: “Are Amish farms organic?”
What foods and crops do Amish farmers produce? – An outline of the various crops and foods coming from Amish farms, including dairy products, tobacco, produce, and animal products.

see also Barn-raising

Alcohol

Do the Amish drink alcohol?

Anabaptists

Who were the Anabaptists? – A brief discussion of the history of the Anabaptists, European predecessors to Amish, Mennonites and other groups.

Andy Weaver Amish

Who are the Andy Weaver Amish? – The Andy Weaver Amish are an affiliation found primarily in Holmes County in Ohio. A look at the origin of this group, their approach to technology, youth retention rate, and so on.

Auctions

Where can I find an Amish auction? – What are the different types of Amish auctions? A look at “mud sales”, school auctions, benefit auctions (eg. Haiti auctions), and others. Information on where auctions take place.

Ausbund

What is the Ausbund?– The Amish church hymnal is over 400 years old. How do the Amish use the Ausbund in worship service and what is Amish church singing like?

see also Song and Singing

B

Baptism

When do Amish get baptized? – A look at how Amish baptism works – typical age at baptism, reasons for adult baptism among Amish, reasons that Amish youth choose to join the church, what the Amish baptismal ceremony is like, and typical youth retention rates.

Barn raising

What happens at an Amish barn-raising? – The barn-raising as an example of Amish mutual aid, how a barn-raising is organized, and example of other communal work projects among Amish.

Beachy Amish

What’s the difference between Beachy Amish and Old Order Amish?– A comparison of the differences and similarities between Beachy and Old Order Amish. The origin of the Beachy Amish, Beachy beliefs and approach to technology.

Beliefs

see Religion; Church

Bible

Do Amish read the Bible? Which Bible do the Amish use? – Answering the question “Do Amish read the Bible?” A look at German and English versions of the Bible used by Amish, other Amish books and reading materials such as songbooks, religious and secular reading.

Bishop

see Church: Who leads the Amish church?

Black Amish

Are there black Amish people?

Buggies

Do all Amish use the Slow Moving Vehicle (SMV) triangle? – Reasons for the SMV triangle, why some Amish object to the SMV triangle, court cases and compromises over buggy safety.
Why do the Amish drive buggies? – Why do Amish reject owning the car in favor of horse-drawn travel? Practical and symbolic reasons for the buggy, Amish attitudes towards cars, Amish usage of automobile transportation.

see also Transportation

Business

What are typical Amish businesses? – A look at the various types of Amish enterprises, Amish women in business, unusual Amish businesses, and the number and size of Amish companies.

C

Children

Do Amish use birth control? – On Amish attitudes to family planning. Is birth control acceptable to Amish? Are there exceptions?
How do Amish discipline children? – Why Amish believe in disciplining children; discipline in schools; behavior of Amish children.
How many children do Amish have? – Typical Amish family sizes; how family sizes differ across Amish groups.
Where are Amish babies born? – A look at Amish births in hospitals, birthing centers and at home. Reasons for some Amish preferring home birth; controversy concerning home birth.
Why don’t Amish discuss pregnancy? – Why pregnancy is a generally taboo topic for public discussion; how Amish talk about it, when they do.

Christmas

Do Amish celebrate Christmas? – A look at Amish Christmas celebrations, including family gatherings, church, gift-giving traditions, food, and more. Do Amish have a Santa Claus custom? What is “Old Christmas” and why do some Amish celebrate it?

see also Holidays

Church

A Comprehensive Guide to Amish Church – A top-to-bottom look at Amish church structure and practices. Church leaders, church service, customs and special services.
Who leads the Amish church? – Description of the roles and duties of the Amish bishop, minister, and deacon. How Amish ministers are chosen.

see also Baptism; Bible

Clothing & Appearance

Why do Amish women cover their hair?
Why do the Amish wear Plain clothing? – Outlines various reasons for Plain dress, including modesty, simplicity, and Scriptural reasons; groups such as Mennonites and Hutterites who also dress Plain.

Communities

Which are the largest Amish communities?– On the ten largest Amish communities by population.
Which are the oldest Amish communities? – On the ten oldest existing Amish communities.
Which states have the most Amish? – The fifteen states with the largest Amish populations.

Computers

see Technology

D

Deacon

see Church: Who leads the Amish church?

Death

What is an Amish funeral like? – On Amish beliefs and practices surrounding death, including preparing the body’ the viewing, description of the funeral service, the Amish cemetery and burial.
Where do Amish bury their dead? – A description of Amish cemeteries, gravestones, and caskets.

Diversity

How many types of Amish are there?– Outlines differences between various Amish groups;  examines how Amish communities are organized; discusses the concept of dien or being in fellowship, exchanging ministers, shunning, and the Ordnung.

Divorce

Can Amish get divorced? – Amish beliefs on divorce, separation, and remarriage.

see also Marriage

E

Education

Do Amish children go to school?
Do Amish go to college?
Why do Amish only go to school until 8th grade? – Reasons for limited Amish formal education; description of the Amish schoolhouse; teachers and their qualifications; the school day; historical conflict over Amish schooling; Amish learning after 8th grade.

Electricity

Do Amish use electricity? – Why Amish avoid public power; what Amish use electricity for; how Amish generate power; how Amish light homes and keep food cold; use of power in Amish businesses; buggy lighting.

Entertainment

see Recreation

Entrepreneurship

see Business

Europe

Are the Amish German?
Do Amish live in Europe? – On the last Amish settlement in Europe and its disappearance; Beachy Amish in Europe.

see also Origins

Excommunication

see Shunning; Ordnung

F

Farming

see Agriculture

Food

Do Amish drink coffee?
What do Amish eat? – A description of Amish diets, including home-grown and store-bought foods, Amish baked goods and prepared meals, restaurant food; consumption of alcohol among Amish; Sunday church meal; changes in the Amish diet.
Do Amish eat fast food?
Amish Whoopie Pies

Firearms

Do Amish use guns? – On Amish beliefs of non-resistance; Amish use of guns in hunting and pest control.

Funeral

see Death

G

Gifts

What’s a good gift for an Amish person?

Government

see Politics; Non-resistance

Guns

see Firearms

H

Health

Do Amish visit doctors? – On the various Amish approaches to medical care; Amish and medical insurance; relationship with medical professionals; long-distance travel for medical care; traditional remedies among Amish.
Do Amish have genetic disorders? – Types of genetic diseases seen in Amish and Mennonite populations; reasons for hereditary diseases; treatment for genetic disorders
What are some Amish natural remedies?
What are some unconventional Amish health practices?

see also Vaccination; Children

Holidays

What holidays do Amish celebrate? – On religious and secular holidays celebrated by Amish; how Amish employers adapt holiday schedule for non-Amish employees.
How do Amish observe Ascension Day?
What lesser-known holidays do Amish observe?

Homes

How do Amish wash clothes? – On the use of wringer washers; how Amish power wringer washers; how Amish dry clothing.
What are Amish homes like?
Where do Amish go shopping? – Discussion of the various venues where Amish shop, including dry goods and salvage stores, Wal-Mart and other supermarkets, Spector’s, auctions, mail-order.

Hunting

Do Amish hunt? – A look at reasons Amish enjoy hunting, where and what Amish hunt, and disagreement among Amish over hunting.

I

Insurance

Do Amish carry health insurance?

Internet

see Technology

J

Joining the Amish

Do Amish accept outsiders?

K

L

Language

What language do the Amish speak? – Amish use of Pennsylvania German; Swiss Amish dialect; use of High German in church; Amish use of English.

Legal

Why don’t Amish sue? – Discussion of Amish Two Kingdoms doctrine; Amish involvement in legal cases; controversy over reporting crimes.

M

Marriage

Do Amish wear wedding rings?
When do Amish get married? – Typical age at marriage; requirements for being married; Amish views on remarriage.
Do Amish remarry?
Do Amish practice polygamy?

Medicine

see Health

Mennonites

Mennonite vs Amish – What’s the difference between Amish and Mennonites? Diversity in the Amish and Mennonite world; similarities with Old Order Mennonites; Amish cooperation with Mennonites; “higher” Mennonite churches.

Who are the Old Colony Mennonites?

Who are the Old Order (Team) Mennonites?

Military Service

see Non-Resistance

Minister

see Church: Who leads the Amish church?

Money

Do the Amish use money? – Amish use of banks, checks, and credit cards.

How do Amish make money? – A review of typical Amish occupations, including farming, factory work, and small business.

Are the Amish rich?

see also Business; Taxes

Music

see Song and Singing

Myths

What are common myths about the Amish? – A look at various misconceptions of the Amish, such as the blue gate myth, marriage between cousins, multiple wives, organic food, technology as evil.

N

Names

What are common Amish names?

What are common Amish men’s names?

What are common Amish women’s names?

Nebraska Amish

Who are the Nebraska Amish?

New Order Amish

What’s the difference between New Order and Old Order Amish?

Nickel Mines

see School Shooting

Non-Resistance

Why don’t Amish serve in the military?

O

Ordnung

The Amish Church Ordnung – What is the Amish Ordnung? What the Ordnung prohibits and prescribes; purpose of the Ordnung; how the Ordnung is created and changes; violating the Ordnung.

Origins

Where do the Amish come from? – Amish Anabaptist roots in Europe; martyr history; Jakob Amman and the 1693 division; migration to America.

P

Pacifism

see Non-Resistance

Pen Pal

How can I find an Amish pen-pal? – Two recommendations in response to this common request.

Photography

What do Amish think about photography? – Amish opinions on photography; posed vs. unposed photos; ways photographers make photos of the Amish; children and photography; tourist photos.

Politics

Do Amish vote? – Amish political participation; voting rates among Amish; campaigns targeted towards Amish supporting past candidates.

Population

How are Amish communities organized? – A look at differences between Amish “settlements”, “affiliations”, and “church districts”.

How fast are the Amish growing? – The rate of growth of the Amish population in North America; reasons for high growth; challenges to growth and expansion.

Where do the Amish live? – The main areas of settlement of Amish in the USA and Canada; Amish migration.

Do Amish live in Australia?

Q

R

Recreation

Do Amish go on vacation? – A look at typical vacation activities favored by Amish, including visits to relatives, historical sites, the Pinecraft community in Florida, as well as hunting and fishing trips.

What do Amish do for fun? – Recreational activities common among Amish, including visiting, hunting, fishing, birdwatching, sports, board and card games, reading.

see also Sports

Religion

What do the Amish believe?

Do Amish evangelize?

What do Amish think about other religions? – Amish attitudes and opinions on other Christian, as well as non-Christian, denominations.

Rumspringa

Rumspringa – What is Rumspringa? A look at this period of Amish adolescence, the purpose of Rumspringa, myths connected to Rumspringa, youth behavior, the Lancaster County drug bust, and media portrayals of Rumspringa.

S

School

see Education

Shunning

The Amish & shunning – Why do Amish practice shunning? Reasons for Amish practice of shunning; Scriptural support for social avoidance; how long shunning lasts; differences in strong and mild shunning; other groups that practice shunning; criticisms of shunning.

Can Amish leave and come back?

Smoking and Tobacco

Do Amish smoke?

Song and Singing

Do Amish enjoy music and singing? – The Amish experience with song and music, including church songs, songs in school, youth singings, musical instruments, and popular music.

see also Ausbund

Spirituality

see Religion

Sports

Do Amish play sports? – Amish views on sports, and descriptions of the various sports Amish play, including softball, volleyball, basketball, hockey, cornerball, and others; Amish as sports spectators.

Swartzentruber Amish

Swartzentruber Amish – Who are the Swartzentruber Amish? A look at the origin, customs, beliefs, technology, occupations, approach to health care, and other topics related to the conservative Swartzentruber Amish; where Swartzentruber Amish live.

Swiss Amish

Swiss Amish – Who are the Swiss Amish? On the origin, cultural practices, open buggies, cemeteries and other topics related to the Swiss Amish; where Swiss Amish communities are found.

T

Taxes

Do Amish pay taxes? – An explanation of taxes which Amish pay, and the Amish exemption from Social Security and worker’s compensation.

Technology

Do Amish use technology? – A look at how and why Amish use technology selectively; the Ordnung and technology; the concept of usage vs. ownership; technologies used by Amish; how Amish regulate the pace of change.

Do the Amish use computers and the internet? – On Amish exposure to and usage of computers and the internet in non-Amish workplaces, through smartphones, etc; ownership vs. usage; third-party help for online advertising; the Plain word processor “Classic”.

Telephone

Do Amish use telephones? – Why Amish forbid telephones in the home; the history of Amish and telephones; the telephone “shanty” solution; telephones in businesses and barns; Amish and the smartphone.

Tourism

What do Amish think about tourism? – On the benefits and drawbacks of Amish tourism; typical Amish tourist activities; Amish participation in tourism.

How can I stay with an Amish family? – Some ideas on how to experience a stay in an Amish home.

Can I pay to stay on an Amish farm?

Transportation

Can Amish fly? – Reasons Amish object to air travel; which affiliation of Amish does allow flying; flying in emergencies.

Can Amish ride in cars?

Do Amish ride horses?

How do Amish travel? – Describes the various means of travel used by Amish, including the horse-and-buggy, automobile, bus, train, bicycle, and so on.

Why do Amish ride scooters?

see also Buggies

U

V

Vaccination

Do Amish vaccinate their children? – A look at the rate of vaccination among Amish, and reasons for generally lower levels of immunization.

Voting

see Politics

W

Wedding

see Marriage

Women

Amish Women – A look at typical roles of Amish women; the position of Amish women compared to Amish men; working Amish females; the question “Are Amish women happy?”

What jobs do Amish women do?

X

Y

Z

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