Hutterites of Montana
By Laura Wilson
Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 2000, 160 pages, 109 Illustrations,
Isolated on the prairies of Montana far from mainstream America,
the Hutterites live on large farms and ranches. They shun the modern
world. Less assimilated than the Amish and the Mennonites, they
practice communal living through shared ownership of all property
and income. Although the Hutterites use modern agricultural equipment,
they carefully protect their spiritual life by avoiding worldly
temptations--no televisions, radios, cars, or dancing. The Hutterites
represent an overlooked story in the modern American West and are
apart of our nation' s religious history.
This stunning book is a unique document of the Hutterites of Montana,
comprising Laura Wilson' s photographs and interviews with them
over a fourteen-year period. Wilson explains how she met the Hutterites
and received unprecedented access to photograph them in their day-to-day
life. Then, often using the words of members of the community, she
reveals fascinating details about their history, their leadership
structure, their religious beliefs, the place of women in their
society, the education of their young, and the strength of their
communal tradition. Wilson' s text and photographs bring to life
a remarkable people whose close family ties, spiritual activities,
and sure sense of place contrast dramatically with the values and
preoccupations of our own rootless society.
Laura Wilson is a photographer whose work has appeared in such
magazines as the New York Times Magazine, the New Yorker, the Washington
Post Magazine, Texas Monthly, and the Sunday Times (London). She
is the author of Watt Matthews of Lambshead.
Review by Howard R. Lamar, editor of The New Encyclopedia
of the American West
Shunning the modern world, the Hutterites of Montana practice communal
living, share ownership of all property and income, and protect
their spiritual life by carefully avoiding worldly temptations.
In this book Laura Wilson documents the lives of the Hutterites,
offering stunning photographs and a fascinating view of this close-knit
"Wilson's powerful photographs, which tell the story of strength,
belief, and community in dramatic ways, are here combined with an
informative and beautifully crafted text. The result is a truly
original book about a neglected American ethnic group."
Review by David McCullough
A book such as this--a book so clearly and genuinely extraordinary--comes
along only so often and only as a result of exceptional skill and
dedication. With her powerful photographs and clear-eyed, understanding
text, Laura Wilson has created both a surpassing portrait of the
Hutterites of Montana and, by implication, a profound comment on
the mainstream of modern life. She writes from thorough familiarity
with her subject and she writes beautifully. Her themes are the
time-honored American themes of religious freedom, the right of
privacy, independence, community, and steadfastness in the face
of adversity set in the immense open spaces of the West. And through
it all, in her words and photographs, one senses her own uncommon
strength and integrity.
Review from the magazine, Booklist
Black-and-white pictures radiate the Hutterites' modesty and candor,
and also, in their soft grain and broad palette of grays, [Wilson's] affection and respect. Gaze thoughtfully, for this is what one
genuinely egalitarian society looks like.
of the book by Beverly H. Wigley