Now back in print with a new essay, this classic of Iowa history focuses on the Old Order Amish Mennonites, the state's most distinctive religious minority. Sociologist Elmer Schwieder and historian Dorothy Schwieder began their research with the largest group of Old Order Amish in the state in April 1970; they extended their studies and friendships in later years to other Old Order settlements as well as the slightly less conservative Beachy Amish. ""A Peculiar People"" explores the origin and growth of the Old Order Amish in Iowa, their religious practices, economic organization, family life, the formation of new communities, and the vital issue of education. Thomas Morain's new essay describes issues for the Iowa Amish from the 1970s to today. The growth of utopian Amish communities across the nation, changes in occupation, the current state of education and health care, and the conscious balance between modern and traditional ways are reflected in an essay that describes how the Old Order dedication to Gelassenheit - the yielding of self to the interests of the larger community - has served its members well into the twenty-first century.
Elmer Schwieder (1925-2005) was emeritus professor of sociology at Iowa State University. Dorothy Schwieder is emerita professor of history at Iowa State University and the author or coauthor of, among others, Iowa: The Middle Land and Growing Up with the Town: Family and Community on the Great Plains (IOWA 2002). Thomas Morain is the author of, among others, Prairie Grass Roots: An Iowa Small Town in the Early Twentieth Century; he is director of community outreach at Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa.