The Changing Lives of Amish Women: Surprising Findings from My PhD Research


  • Fran Handrick Independent Researcher



Amish Women, farming, gardening, technology, leisure


In the foreword to Plain Women(Reynolds, 2001), the ethnographer Simon Bronner writes, “In fact we know far more about Amish men than about Amish women.” His statement prompted me to want to know more about Amish women. My research into how life has changed for Amish women fulfilled both my own intellectual curiosity and fills a gap in the understanding of the lives of Amish women in the wider academic field, although a thorough treatment of the lives of Amish women was subsequently published, which both supports and contrasts with my findings (Johnson-Weiner, 2020). After an initial introduction to Amish women via a gatekeeper, I used snowball sampling to find other Old Order and New Order Amish women, first in Holmes County, Ohio, and later in various communities in Pennsylvania. My fieldwork was based on an ethnographic approach whereby I lived with Amish families as well as interviewed New Order and Old Order women in Ohio and Old Order women in Pennsylvania during visits in 2012 and 2014. This article describes changes identified by those women in homes and gardens, household technology, travel, and vacation habits in their lifetimes.






Fieldwork and Reflections