Rural Life Study series; Lancaster County, PA; Charles Loomis; Old Order Mennonites; community resilience; assimilation; stability and instability


Walter Kollmorgen’s two seminal contributions to Amish studies scholarship include the 1942 report “Culture of a Contemporary Rural Community: The Old Order Amish of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania” published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Agricultural Economics, and his 1943 article “The Agricultural Stability of the Old Order Amish and Old Order Mennonites of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania” published in the American Journal of Sociology. His 1942 report was one of six mixed-methods studies that analyzed the relative in/stability of rural American communities during the Great Depression. The six-part series concluded that the Amish of Lancaster County, PA, weathered the Great Depression with fortitude. In Kollmorgen’s subsequent 1943 AJS article, he consolidated key findings from field research, summarizing why the Old Order Amish and Old Order Mennonite people persist as a distinctive sect. Representing the very first substantial Amish studies scholarship (alongside Bachman’s 1942 The Old Order Amish of Lancaster County), Kollmorgen’s work merits ongoing re-examination, as it defined the conversation and trajectory of Amish studies scholarship. In this essay, I annotate both works, distilling his findings into summary essays that focus on presenting his research as a resource for readers and not necessarily engaging with it. Given the diffuseness of his report’s data, I provide both short summaries of each chapter and full chapter annotations. [Abstract by author.]