Hutterite Society

By John A. Hostetler

The John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland, 1997, 403 pages, 42 photographs, softcover.


Teacher and pupils in German school. (Photograph by Kyrn Taconis)

One of the most important books published in the English language on the subject of the Hutterites, the Table of Contents covers: Part One: Historical Development - 1. The Birth of Hutterite Society; 2. The Golden Period in Moravia; 3. The Decline and Fate of the Eastern European Communities; 4. Life in Russia; 5. Adaptations to the North American Environment; Part Two - Contemporary Social and Cultural Organization - 6. World View and Language; 7. Colony Organization; 8. Subsistence and Economic Patterns; 9. Schooling and Preparations for Life; 10. Adult Life Patterns; Part Three: The Problems and Techniques of Survival - 11. The Social Problems of Communal Living; 12. The Strategy of Hutterite Survival.

The book Appendix includes an extensive Hutterite Historiography; Chronology of Hutterite History; Hutterite Place Names in Eastern Europ by Language and Country; The Hutterite School Discipline of 1568; Table Rules; Rites of Passage from Childhood to Adulthood; Baptismal Vow; Engagement and Marriage Vows; Ordination Vow; Agreement between a Dviisional School Board and a Colony, Alberta; Holidays; The Liturgical Calendar; Colony Menu for One Week; Last Words of Michael Waldner, 1823-1889; List of Hutterite Colonies in North America; Branching of Hutterite Colonies (Dariusleut, Lehrerleut, and Schmiedeleut) in North America, 1874-1974. There is also Maps; Charts, Tables, Selected Bibliography, and Index.

"Of hundreds of recorded attempts to establish communal societies in North America, the Hutterites are the only group that has managed not only to survive but to expand and prosper. Yet the members work without the incentive of private gain, and privileged positions are few. There are no extremely poor or wealthy persons among them, and individuals never worry about food, shelter, clothing or dependency in old age. Identity problems and alienation are virtually nonexistent. In their history, which spans more than four centuries, there has never been a single homicide. There are no high walls around the colony and no police force." -- from Hutterite Society.

Written to mark the centennial of the Hutterites' arrival in North America, John Hostetler's acclaimed study traces their history from the founding of their society over four centuries ago to the early 1970s, and analyzes their social and cultural organization, the difficulties of communal living. and their strategies for survival.

"A fine study of the oldest Western communal society, originally Moravian, who live now on the American and Canadian plains." -- New York Times Book Review.


Hutterite girl and copy of an old chronicle. (Photograph by Kryn Taconis)

"An impressive picture of a people who share the general Anabaptist rejection of worldly thrills and pleasures, but who have a special distinction of their own -- a strict devotion to communal living that has endured with little change for more than four centuries." -- Time

"Hutterite Society, an even more impressive work than Hostetler's earlier Amish Society, is surely destined to become a minor classic widely read and acclaimed by scholars and the general public." -- Sociology

"Essential to any study of Hutterites." -- American Historical Review

"A must reading for anyone doing serious study of the Hutterites... An excellent history of the Hutterites... [which] will serve for many years to come as a good benchmark for an analysis of change in the way of life of this extraordinary group." -- Mennonite Life

About the Author

John A. Hostetler (1918–2001) is author of the best—selling Amish Society and the widely acclaimed Hutterite Society, both available from Johns Hopkins. Raised in the Amish faith, he was founding director of the Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, and a former professor of anthropology and sociology at Temple University.

Hutterite Society

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