New JPAC Issue Out Now: Amish Crime Experiences, Accident Study, Women & More

Volume 4, Issue 2 of the Journal of Plain Anabaptist Communities is now available. Like previous issues, it offers readers a variety of topics.

For example, the lead article by Rachel Stein, Professor of Sociology at West Virginia University and Mark Dewalt, Professor Emeritus at Winthrop University, examines the prevalence of accidents in smaller Amish communities using reports found in the monthly publication, The Diary.

Image: Jim Halverson

They gathered 2,705 accident reports, classifying them into falls, accidents related to manual labor, being kicked or falling off an animal, buggy-related incidents, and a variety of other accidents, including sledding and rough play. The reader might think that buggy-related accidents are the most frequent, but in fact, they were surpassed by falls and accidents related to manual labor.

Joe Donnermeyer, Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University, also used The Diary to gather together narratives by scribes reporting from various communities to examine the crime experiences of the Amish. Altogether, 240 incidents were transcribed.

Most of the crimes reports were property-related, such as a burglary, but there were 14 armed robberies, which is a theft or attempted theft with the threat or use of a weapon. There were a surprising number of indirect crime experiences, such as a high-speed police chase down county roads where the Amish live or a search for an escaped prisoner. Both can be as fear-provoking as experiencing directly a crime.

Amish publication The Diary

Kirk Miller, Berwood Yost and Scottie Thompson work at Franklin and Marshall College, and along with Stephanie L. Voight, Director of Community Health Operations at WellSpan Health, conducted a needs assessment of health care among members of the Groffdale Conference Mennonite Churches, the Weaverland Conference Mennonite Churches and the Old Order Amish in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Based on the responses to a survey from 433 households, they reported on a variety of health conditions, such as BMI (body fat based on height and weight), hypertension, high cholesterol, arthritis, and many more.

Two articles were published in JPAC’s “fieldwork and reflections” section. In one, Fran Handrick, from West Yorkshire, England, described how she gathered data for her dissertation on Amish women in both Ohio and Pennsylvania, and the kinds of changes they talked about experiencing over the years. She also discusses how she became interested in research on the Amish and on the challenges she faced with collecting data, and of the committee at the University of Birmingham that must approve research involving human subjects.

Robert A. Frick (an independent researcher) from Willow Street, Pennsylvania and Steven Nolt (Professor of History and Anabaptist Studies at Elizabethtown College) recall the history of maintaining two one-room schools on behalf of Amish students in the Lampeter-Strasburg School District of southcentral Lancaster County.

Missouri Amish Schoolhouse
Image: Don Burke

In the previous issue of JPAC (volume 4, issue 1) were brief descriptions of two Centers for Plain Community Research, namely, the Ohio Amish Library, located in the middle of the Greater Holmes County settlement and the Geauga Amish Historical Library in the Greater Geauga County settlement. We switch from the two Ohio libraries to two located in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania with this issue.

The first is the Earl H. and Anita Hess Archives and Special Collections, located in the High Library at Elizabethtown College. One interesting feature of the Hess Archives is that it is the repository for the research papers of such notable Amish scholars as Donald Kraybill and Karen Johnson-Weiner. The Muddy Creek Library shares similar goals with the other libraries featured in both issues of volume 4, which is to document and preserve Anabaptist history. A recent and important addition to Muddy Creek was the transfer of a substantial share of the materials in Pathway Heritage Historical Library (Aylmer, Ontario) in 2019.

Also found in this new issue of JPAC are four book reviews: (1) “Amish Women and the Great Depression” (the Johns Hopkins University Press), by Katherine Jellison and Steven Reschly; (2) “Patterns and Paradox: The Quilts of Amish Women” (Smithsonian American Art Museum) by Janneken Smucker and Leslie Umberger; (3) two books by Brad Igou – “Amish Voices: A Collection of Amish Writings” and “Amish Voices, Volume 2: In Their Own Words, 1993-2020”, with both published by Herald Press; and (4) “The Light at Evening: A History of the Northwest Fellowship Churches”, by Lyle Baer (Lyle Baer/Watrous Publications).

As a reminder to readers, The Journal of Plain Anabaptist Communities is a peer-reviewed journal dedicated to publishing both empirical and theoretical work related to plain Anabaptist communities, including, the Amish, conservative Mennonites, Amish-Mennonites, Apostolic Christians, Brethren, Bruderhof, and Hutterites. It was established to promote a more collaborative and inclusive publication outlet for Anabaptist scholarship.

JPAC is co-sponsored by The Ohio State University Libraries, the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies, Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, the Amish and Mennonite Heritage Center in Berlin, Ohio, and “Amish America”. To register for JPAC, go to plainanabaptistjournal.org. Simply click on the “Register” link at top, and in less than two minutes, the task is complete.

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