A Conversation About Amish Women With Karen Johnson-Weiner

I’d like to draw your attention to an online event happening tomorrow: A Conversation about Amish Women with Karen Johnson-Weiner. This is hosted by the Young Center at Elizabethtown College, and open to anyone with an internet connection. Karen will be speaking with Young Center Senior Scholar Steven Nolt on Karen’s new book, The Lives of Amish Women.

Thursday, October 8, 2020 • 7:00 pm (Eastern)

Join us for a conversation with Karen M. Johnson-Weiner, author of the new book The Lives of Amish Women (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2020). Johnson-Weiner will share her research and findings, which grow out of 35 years of fieldwork.

Johnson-Weiner is distinguished service professor emerita at State University of New York-Potsdam, the author of Train Up a Child: Old Order Amish and Mennonite Schools and New York Amish: Life in the Plain Communities of the Empire State, and the coauthor of The Amish.

You can access the event at this link. Note: If you don’t have Zoom installed, you may need to download it first. You can do that at that link ahead of time to be ready.

On Amish Women

As a little preview, here’s an excerpt from an interview Karen did with North Country Public Radio:

Church communities value motherhood and families, yet some women, even in conservative communities, have remained unmarried. Johnson-Weiner writes of one woman who said she’d get married if her salvation depended on it, but it doesn’t, so she prefers to stay single. Another woman said that a few men have tried to pursue her and she liked one of them pretty well, but not enough to spend her life with him, she said.

“No one’s going to force her to get married. They’re going to be just fine and they’re going to be accepted. There are very independent Amish women.”

“Married women who don’t have children are not the norm. Single women are not the norm. In many respects, she’s an extra. I’m not saying she’s not useful, welcomed or loved, but she’s not a wife or mother. They have to find a place for themselves in a community that’s set up for couples with children.”

They contribute to the economic health of their communities by acting as surrogate mothers by employing kids.

“I want people to appreciate the Amish for who and what they are: a people devoted to raising their families and building strong communities, and being good neighbors.

“They’re going to speak a different language. They’re going to dress different. Their children may not understand. I’d like people to appreciate those differences. They’re determined not to be like us, but they’re hopeful that they can make a contribution.”

We’ll also be doing a Q-and-A and giveaway with Karen on The Lives of Amish Women later this month, so stay tuned for that. I’m sure the Zoom event will be worth tuning in for. I always enjoy hearing what Karen has to say.

Thursday October 8th ~ 7pm EST ~ Karen Johnson-Weiner speaks with Steven Nolt on The Lives of Amish Women

Access link: https://etown.zoom.us/j/99268046393

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    1. Alberta Wells


      Read this article about Amish women staying single..Does that mean they
      never have children? That is usually very important to them..
      Thank you

      1. Karen could probably say more but that would be basically correct. There are cases of out-of-wedlock births among Amish but it’s not common. I might add your question to the list for Karen in the Q-and-A.

      2. Karen

        Adopting and Fostering

        Dr.Johnson-Weiner did partially answer that during her talk. It’s both community and sect specific. In the Lancaster communities there are an increasing (but not large) number of single, never-married women who are either fostering or adopting children. These are in the more progressive communities. In the less progressive and “lower” communities single girls are not adopting but some families do foster.

    2. Helen Curtis

      marriage licenses

      I saw an interview with an ex-Amish man who said that the Amish do not get marriage licenses. Is this true?

      1. That’s a good question that I’ve come across before but never really investigated. It’s possible that this might vary by state and community (PA apparently has some alternative to the conventional marriage license, for example). I’ll pass your question on to Karen.

        1. Helen Curtis

          Amish women

          Thank you Erik. Please let me know what she says

    3. Thom

      I love her writing and am very interested in her new book! I hope I get to watch her conversation. I’m also glad that there is more literature and attention being paid to Amish women, especially ones that don’t quite conform to expectations.

    4. Al in Ky

      Thanks for posting information about this online event. I watched it and found it very interesting. I particularly enjoyed her talking about the differences between Swartzentruber Amish and more progressive Amish.

      1. Good to hear you caught it. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to. She knows the Swartzentruber Amish as well as anyone.

    5. Jo

      Marriage Liscense

      I grew up old order Amish in Michigan. And yes Amish do get marriage licenses. Probably like everything else it would vary from community to community.

      1. Helen Curtis

        Amish women