Preview: PBS/American Experience special ‘The Amish’

In yesterday’s interview, Saloma mentioned an upcoming PBS special on the Amish, part of the American Experience series.   American Experience has a good reputation for in-depth documentary films, mainly of a historical nature.

“The Amish” is a 2-hour film described as “an extraordinarily intimate portrait of contemporary Amish faith and life”.  Quite a few Amish participated as well as numerous experts on the Amish.

You can view a preview below (this segment focuses on Nickel Mines).  What do you think

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    1. Richard from Amish Stories

      I like PBS Erik and i think that they put out some very high quality programming , so id really like to catch this when it comes on TV. Thanks for the heads-up about this Amish special coming on. Richard

    2. SharonR

      PBS/American Experience The Amish

      Yes, it’s already on my calendar to watch this. I’m sure it will be an excellent program, coming from PBS TV.

    3. Damon Hickey

      The Amish Experience on PBS

      David McConnell, co-author of An Amish Paradox, told us about this when I audited his Amish Cultures course at the College of Wooster last year. He was very impressed with Saloma, who really wanted to get to know the Ohio Amish and spent a significant amount of time living with them. As a result, he said, PBS had decided to devote two full hours to the Amish and to shift the focus of the story.

      1. SharonR

        PBS/American Experience

        In reference to Damon Hickey’s comment that PBS “shifting the focus”, hopefully that means showing ALL sides of the Amish community and people, their culture and faith depicted accurately. I, also, feel that PBS SHOULD do a good job of this.

    4. Laura

      I’m definitely planning on watching it. It looks like it could be very interesting, and hopefully at least moderately accurate! PBS has a better chance of getting it right that anybody else, I think.

    5. Marilyn from NY

      When is it going to be on PBS? I would love to see it.

      1. Air time on PBS

        It’s on Tuesday Feb. 28, at 8 pm. I do not know for certain but I am guessing there will be more than one showing.

        1. David

          Web stream

          I believe the film will be available on the web after it airs.

        2. Erik, most local PBS stations will be showing it more than once, but the second time it will vary. If you go to your local station, you can find out when it will be rebroadcast. Also, American Experience will have the whole film up the following day, on this same website, so the whole thing can be viewed from there.

    6. PBS on Amish

      I am sure PBS will do a great job and it sounds like an interesting film. I cannot pickup PBS on my television. Is there a way to watch it online?

      1. Merry

        PBS Online

        For those who prefer to watch PBS programming other than when broadcast on television visit and look for the program of interest to you. I have watched prior programs, whether I had missed the first time broadcast or just want to see it again. From what I can tell most of their programs are fairly well balanced.

    7. Looking forward to it

      I’m also looking forward to the program. I’ve been impressed with other American Experience films. I do hope they’re not going to focus too much on the Nickel Mines tragedy. Especially here in Pennsylvania we saw too much television coverage at the time that was uninformed about the Amish and seemed aimed at sensationalizing the story for the sake of ratings. I trust PBS will do a fine, balanced presentation.

      Marta Perry

    8. Jessica M

      My only complaint is that February 28th is a whole ‘nother month away. :”(

    9. I would say ditto to most of the other comments – I’m glad it’s PBS doing it, and it’ll hopefully be a well-balanced documentary. Thanks for letting us know about it!

    10. Slightly-handled-Order-man

      Ooh, I like “American Experience”! WNED in Buffalo New York is my affiliate and they have been showing great episodes earlier than the 9:00 regular air time, in the last two weeks they aired episodes on General GA Custer and lawman Wyatt Erp, I’m also looking forward to Annie Oakley, but an episode on the Amish that would be awesome, on a topic of another PBS film maker, I hear there was a Ken Burns film on the Shakers but I’ve never seen it despite reading it was re-released.

    11. Kim in NY

      Comment on Preview: PBS/American Experience special "The Amish"

      Thank you so much for posting the 10 minute preview. We do not have cable TV (by choice)and watch programs online or through streaming Netflix, etc. so I will not be able to see the entire episode until pbs posts it online.
      The clip you posted is hard to watch but has some great insights into the people who were involved in the incident.

      We had a traumatic incident near us involving a van of Amish adults who were hit by a drunk driver who tried to pass some slow-moving farm equipment. The Amish group (who had just moved into the area south of here) were also immediately forgiving, and visited the driver in jail, and told him that this was a chance for him to turn his life around.

      I will look forward to seeing the entire episode when it becomes available online, thanks again Erik for posting it!

    12. lanore

      Thkis is one special I plan to watch, should be very good. I have watch many thing on pbs and they do a great job. =-D

    13. Margaret

      Definitely going to watch . . . thanks for telling us about this, Erik.

    14. Debbie Welsh

      Can’t wait to see this but I, too, hope the main story won’t be centered around the sad tragedy of Nickel Mines.

      1. Not mainly about Nickel Mines

        From what I know Nickel Mines is just a part of this documentary. It is supposed to be a pretty comprehensive look at the Amish, with Nickel Mines just a part of the story. I can understand why they chose to excerpt this particular segment though, since many people know about it. You can read more here about it:

    15. Nicole Shelley

      Nicely done

      I must say from my experience in knowing many members of the Amish community, and also living not far from Nickle Mines, this first segment is tastefully and respectfully produced. Nicely done. I am looking forward to watching the rest of the broadcast. God bless.

    16. Mary

      If this is airing at 8 P.M. on Tuesday the 28th February, is it Eastern, Central,Mountain, or Pacific time?

    17. Jane Reeves

      I do not watch much television but will be watching this.
      Thanks for the information Erik.
      Jane Reeves

    18. Alice Mary

      Hope for understanding the Amish

      Although I work Tuesday nights, I will view the program as soon as I can online (thanks to Merry for the reminder and URL).

      I am hoping that viewers who watch it and are not as interested in the Amish as those of us on this blog, will gain a better understanding of Amish culture and tradition, and especially their teachings of “forgiveness” and refraining from judgement of others. We could all use those lessons, as well as the concept letting our “higher power” resolve problems that would otherwise fester within us and possibly lead to more heartache for ourselves and others.

      I’m looking forward to watching it. I will suggest my library purchase it for our collection, too. (Libraries can be another great, free, resource of PBS documentaries & programming.)

      Alice Mary

    19. Carolyn B

      Wow, this clip is powerful. Glad I can set a reminder in Google Calendar to watch this since like somebody said, it’s a whole month away.
      I’ve seen evidence of equal forgiveness in our Englisher world. 2 friends have buried young adult children in senseless deaths. Senseless to us mortals but not to God who blessed each family with the peace that passes all understanding and the strength to witness to God’s continuing goodness.
      God bless every family of the Nickel Mine community as they have re-lived this for us to know of them.

    20. Marilyn from NY

      Thank you Erik, that’s something I want to see.

    21. Fr. Andre Leveille, CSC

      Hoping for Quality and It Probably Will Be Done!

      I am always looking for quality media presentation on the Amish and there so little done for many reasons. This time I am hoping for something different and expect it to be excellent because it is presented by PBS’s “American Experience”. I hope that it will be availabe for purchasing after airing at the end of February. It would make a valuable tool in an educational setting presenting another facet of America’s freedom of religion. It would also be a great example in showing how the early Chritian communities lived as presented in the Sacred Scriptures. I hope it will go beyond what tourists see when visiting an Amish community. Looking forward to seeing it. Thanks Erik for giving us the information on this upcoming televised event. I’ll definitely be watching and letting lots of people know about it.

      1. More discussion to come

        Thanks Fr. Andre and everyone else who shared. I agree with what you wrote and looking forward myself.

        I plan to put up another post on this after it airs, to share some thoughts, discuss and hear people’s impressions of the film.

    22. Al in Ky.

      The Feb. 6 edition of the Mennonite Weekly Review had an interesting article about this upcoming PBS Show “The Amish”.
      It contains much good information from Donald Kraybill about
      how the film came to be, and his working with the film production
      team as a consultant. If you’re interested in this film, I would
      encourage you all to read this article. It can be found on the
      MWR website at

    23. Brother Jeremy

      Amish: Saturation and Reality

      While “The Amish” documentary(PBS)has been viewed several times,
      we might consider that most of the Amish fiction novels have just
      about saturated the buying market the last few years but still
      tend to rely on overused ideas for their plots and patterns of
      narratives. One can usually guess the outcomes.
      So many authors write about them in the same manner and writing
      styles which too often lack depth. Slick covers alone of English
      dressed as Amish are too “fancy” for the plain people, and the
      books’plot lines are too predictable, with stories so often a far
      cry from the realities of the type of life actually lived.

    24. Bro


      Saturation of Amish fiction?
      For a would be writer, why not write a story based on the real
      life of an Old Order Amish lady (now a nun living in the Midwest),who
      chose to leave the Amish and joined a stricter Catholic Sisterhood,
      freely choosing an even more disciplined and older “Old Order” life,
      while giving herself joyfully to Jesus? (Reverse: Rosanna of the
      Amish) A living reality!