I came across the following list of Amish church rules in a book called Amish Roots: A Treasury of History, Wisdom, and Lore, edited by John A. Hostetler.

These were the rules of a church in Mifflin County, PA in 1897, as recorded by a woman named Sadie Newman.

Sadie was a convert to the Amish, having worked for an Amish family and joining the church at age seventeen.

FOR THE MEN:

Do not cut the hair too short, trim the beard, or shave too low.
Only one suspender, plain black, is allowed.
No zipper clothing.
Blouses or shirts bought in the store may not be worn unless the pockets and collars are first removed.
No [decorative] rings on the harnesses of the horses.
No bicycles, telephones, or electricity.
Buggy seats with a fully closed lazy back may not be used.
Do not use so much English talk, but it may be used when English folks are still around. No English singing is to be used at the youth singings.
No lightning rods on the farm dwellings.
Do not have your picture taken.
Do not use sleeve holders, and do not comb your hair parted.

FOR THE WOMEN:

Do not make the caps so small, but keep them large enough to cover the ears. And do not make bonnets so small.
Do not make such broad pleats in the dresses or such broad hems.
Do not comb your hair high on the head.
Do not wear jewelry for pride. Do not use lace around the skirts.
Do not hang framed pictures.
Do not have your picture taken.
Keep plain carpets on the floor, no stripes through them.
There shall be no flowered oil cloths. Do not wear short dresses and light stockings [which] show bare legs.

Source: Newman, Sadie C. “Church Rules in 1897.” Belleville, Pa.

Note there are no exact measurements given here – just phrases like “too low” and “so small” and “high on the head”.

People understood what “too low” and “too high” meant…without having to have it spelled out precisely.

What did you notice?


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