Quilts with “a black-and-white checked” pattern “for the NASCAR market” are stitched together by an Amish woman whose family uses an outdoor privy because church rules stipulate “no indoor plumbing”; an Amish man delivers cans of his milk to an Amish-owned neighborhood collection tank cooled by electricity because state laws require the refrigeration of milk. These are just a few of the images Karen Johnson-Weiner presents of the New York State Amish and their continuing effort to maintain a life disconnected from the surrounding society upon which they are, to varying degrees, economically dependent. The Amish's struggle to preserve separate-from-the world communities and the diversity among the various Amish subgroups are themes Johnson-Weiner examines along with her primary focus: the impetuses for Amish families’ migration to New York.

The quilt-making woman and milk-delivering man above, despite their acquiescence to the buying public and to state laws, belong to “the ultra-conservative...

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