Amish - Orientation

Identification. Old Order Amish Mennonites in North America are a Germanic people with origins in the radical Swiss Anabaptist movement that developed between 1525 and 1536 during the Reformation. Among the Anabaptist groups who have persisted in their beliefs for over three centuries are the Amish, the Mennonites, and the Hutterites. These groups believe in adult baptism and pacifism, maintain a strict religious community and reject participation in the world to varying degrees. Their adherence to simple, or "plain," living is widely known.

Location. The Amish migrated to America from Switzerland, Alsace-Lorraine, the Palatinate (in what is now western Germany), France, and Holland. During the first period of their migration, between 1727 and 1790, approximately five hundred Amish, along with other Germanic groups, settled in Pennsylvania. Between 1815 and 1865, a second influx of three thousand Amish immigrated to Ohio, New York, Indiana, and Illinois.

Demography. In 1990 there were approximately 130,000 Amish living in twenty states and one province of Canada (Ontario). Seventy percent of all Amish live in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana. At a 3 percent rate of population increase annually, the Amish are doubling their numbers every twenty-three years. This growth rate results from large Families in which seven or eight children are typical.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Amish speak a dialect of German among themselves, use biblical High German in Religious services, and speak standard English with outsiders.


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