Sascha Ratchinsky & Julia Dailey
March 2010


We chose to work on the Amish settlements, despite the fact that they are not an indigenous group due to the fact that we were very curious on their lifestyles and cultures in ​the 18th century.

In the early 18th century the Amish migrated from Europe, mostly from Switzerland, to Pennsylvania. For the most part they moved to Lancaster, Pennsylvania which is located at: Lancaster, Pennsylvania - USA 40° 7' lN 76° 18' LW.
They moved away from Switzerland due to religious freedom reasons. At that time they were impatient with the pace of the Protestant Reformation, youthful reformers outraged religious authorities by baptizing each other. The rebaptism of adults was then a crime punishable by death, therefore they moved to Pennsylvania. The main reason they chose to move to Pennsylvania is due to the fact that there was such great soil for them to use for farming there.
Lancaster, Pennsylvania is, nowadays, a tourist attraction for people to visit to learn about how the Amish lived back then. There are still some Amish communities around today, but not even close to as many as there was a long time ago.

Here is the climate map of Pennsylvania, where the Amish migrated to. As you can see in the area in which most of the Amish moved to (Lancaster) which is circled, there is for the most part from about 40-45 inches of rain per year. This amount of rain was highly influential to their farming. This rain was a main reason as to why the Amish mooved to this part of Pennsylvania, because it has a great amount of rain yearly to help grow their crops for their towns.Amish_Maps.jpg
Above is a physical map of Pennsylvania, with a circle in which clearly marks where Lancaster is/was. As you can see Lancaster was very close to being about sea level, if not, then a few hundred meters above. Seeing as they had farming, there land was very flat, and not mountanous or hilly.


Back in the 18th century the Amish settlements obeyed the monarchy, as there was not yet government.
Today, the Amish have special acceptions with the government due to their religion and practice in following the bible. They still have to pay state and federal income taxes, sales and real estate taxes, and public school taxes. They are free from paying Social Security taxes, because they consider Social Security a form of insurance and refuse its benefits. The Amish follow the bible that instructs them to care for church members who have special needs, including the elderly. To rely on commercial or government insurance would oppose their belief that God will care for them through the church.
The bible also instructs that they are respectable to the government authorities.

The Amish had very family based beliefs, which had a great impact on their economy. They believed that they couldn’t use any forms of technology and electricity because it could cause vanity, create inequality, or lead them away from their close community. Because of this, their only way to produce a sustainable food source for their community was to farm.
Amish farming.

Of course they didn’t use any tools that involved using electricity or technology, so they used animals and wagons, for transportation and farming. All family members were and still are nowadays forced into an agricultural lifestyle. The Amish started at an early age, when they were young they would assist in farm and household chores. The Amish kept their farms small enough to be handled by the family unit. Family-size farms were consistently productive, serving to meet the needs of the community rather than to earn large profits. Farms averaged between fifty and ninety-six acres.


The Amish culture included many different traditions in the ways of education, entertainment, rules and more. For children, it used to be normal to attend a public school or be homeschooled. Some families felt their children did not need either, but since the 1950’s, the government let the Amish community’s students finish school at the age of fourteen. After that, they used their time for recreational activities, learning skills (such as hunting, sewing, chores, etc.) and manors. It has also always been very important for the children to learn their prayers and respect for God at an early age.
For recreation time and entertainment, the Amish men would
some times rent a hunting cabin for several days or charter a boat to go fishing in eastern waterways or on one of the Great Lakes, depending on where they lived.

Archery was popular in some areas. Adults who enjoyed birding sometimes traveled across the country to popular migration sites. Now, snow and water skiing are popular among some youth.
Manors in the Amish households were/are based on humility and obedience. Humility and obedience are twin virtues in Amish culture. A spirit of humility signals respect for others. Members were/are taught to obey those with authority over them: children their parents, students their teachers, wives their husbands, members their leaders, and younger ministers their bishop. Everyone was/is expected to obey the will of God as taught by the community. Despite the strong emphasis on humility and obedience, the Amish express/expressed great respect for the dignity of each person.

Belief Systems:

The Amish believed very strongly in God, due to their religion, Christianity. They were a very specific type of Christian; it was Anabaptist. Anabaptist is translated into “one who baptizes again”. Their religion controlled most of their actions, for example even if the law stated something was forbidden, and their church said to do it otherwise, they would still do it.
The Amish also believed that humility, obedience, and simplicity were very important in their communities and families and that keeping their body pure and free from the bad things of the outside world of life was important. They also believed that true Christians should never use violence or force amongst someone else.
The Amish were a very conservative Christian faith group, and many of their beliefs are identical to those of many Fundamentalist and other Evangelical churches, including:

· Adult baptism is done after one makes a commitment to the church.
· Belief in the Trinity, the virgin birth, incarnation, sinless life, crucifixion, resurrection ascension, and atonement of Jesus Christ.
· One lives on after death, either eternal rewarded in Heaven or punished in Hell.
· Salvation is a gift from God, through unmerited grace.
· God inspired the Bible’s authors. Their writings are inerrant. The Bible is generally to be interpreted literally.
· Satan exists as a living entity.


The Bible is/was what influenced the Amish life the most. The Amish used/use it to make choices, prayers, and more. The Amish are strict to their religion. Following the leader of their Swiss Anabaptist forbears, the Amish seeked to follow the teachings of Jesus in daily life by loving their enemies and forgiving insults. Many Amish practices were/are based on the religious principle of separation from the world--that the practices of the church should be separate from the larger society. The Amish emphasized the biblical teaching of mutual aid, urging church members to help each other in times of difficulty or disaster. Thus, they declined to participate in government-operated Social Security, and commercial insurance coverage, which they viewed as undermining their faith in God and dependence on the church community.
One of the high-times and most looked forward to- celebration is Communion. This is when you confirm your beliefs in Jesus. Communion services, held each autumn and spring, frame the religious year. These ritual high points emphasize self-examination and spiritual rejuvenation. Sins were/are confessed and members reaffirm their vow to uphold the Ordnung at a council meeting held prior to the communion service. Ordnung is a set of rules for Amish living; it is the German word for order, arrangement, organization, or system. Communion is/was held when the congregation is “at peace”; that is when all members are in together in peace. The eight-hour service includes preaching, a light meal during the service, and the remembrance of Christ’s death with bread and wine. Pairs of members wash/washed each other’s feet as the congregation sings. At the end of the service, members give/gave an alms offering to the deacon. This is/was the only time that offerings are/were gathered in Amish services.

Science and Technology:

The Amish simply did not use any forms of technology because they were so family oriented and believed that it would ruin the family structure, thus ruining the community’s structure and tightness. They liked to stay different from the outside world and only depend on them for medical emergencies. Over time they became less strict on the technologies used, but back in the 18th century they strictly didn't use any. There were no sciences involved in their communities, only farming and family oriented activities.
Nowadays the Amish use gas in their houses to operate refrigerators and modern stoves, back in the 18th century they used no technology at all, anything that the church did not approve of was not used or done. Today they go to hospitals to deliver their baby, depending on how religious they are on this topic, but for the most part they don't have midwives come to deliver their baby.

Art and Architecture:

The Amish have so many interesting lifestyle ways, and beliefs, in which many people would like to learn about. People can go to visit them in Pennsylvania nowadays, and can buy crafts, art and souvenirs from them. Many popular buys are the hand-made quilts. The admired uses for these are carpets, blankets, bed covers and wall decorations, which were made my the wives and women. It is tradition that the women sew these, and there is often embroidery and embroidered pieces on them. Also a liked souvenir to bring home is the small animal decorations made from wood shavings and carved twigs. Boys and young men make these as a recreational activity using a knife, twigs and some soft wood. These were made as toys and gifts during the 16th century. The quilts history goes back from when the Amish started, and it is a way the women used their free time to fill. The quilts would also be very practical during the harsh and very cold winters.
This is a stretch of materia that was made by the amish women, seeing as the men did most of the labor work, and the women did house work and crafts.

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