Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Great Plains Research Vol. 13, No. 2, 2003. Copyright © 2003 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


This is a model ethnography of four pacifist, Christian sectarian groups, each refusing to conform to the urbanizing, consumption-driven, individualistic society of modern times. The groups are European in origin, historically self-conscious, and descended, either directly or indirectly, from the sixteenth-century radical wing of the Reformation, the Anabaptists. They are the progeny of "old immigrants" who arrived in North America in various migration waves between 1711 and 1874. Their frequent censure of modern technology, use of non-conformist plain dress, and life in close-knit and self-sufficient communities have made them highly noticeable. Adding to their visibility, they have become romanticized as bucolic communitarians by the very society they anathematize.