The Amish during the Great Depression

Did the Amish communities in the US suffer to any extent during the Great Depression?

It would seem that their largely self contained hamlets would continue to do well especially compared to the dire economic conditions that most of the US towns and cities were going through.

Today many Amish areas have some dependance on the tourist trade, but back then I believe there was little interaction with the “English”.

Probably not much, depending where they were located. I don’t know if there were any Amish active Amish communites in the dust bowl during the Depresson. The Amish communities in Pennsylvania were buying and selling goods all along, so they were certainly affected by loss of sales and availability of some products. But they were very self sufficient then, and still are, so I doubt the impact was as great on them as the general population. And I don’t think whatever money they had was kept in banks, though it would have lost value anyway. They would have had to pay property taxes if there were any applicable, so that might have been difficult to deal with, but that was a big problem for lots of people during the depression.

Not Amish, but often confused with Amish, is the self-sufficient German pietist Amana community in Iowa. It actually reorganized as a business cooperative in 1932 and began to prosper within the decade. Amana refrigerators might be their best known business, a spinoff of their '30s trade of making ice chests.

There were a few Amish communities that were trying to get established in areas like Kansas and Arkansas, and most of those failed during the depression and dust bowl era. Around here (Pennsylvania) they were largely unaffected. In fact, the Amish generally did so much better than everyone else that they attracted the attention of folks in government like the head of the Bureau of Agriculture during the New Deal era.

Even today the communities around here are largely independent. There are a lot of Amish markets and places that sell Amish furniture, but the communities themselves could survive on their own just fine without those.

nvm, misread

Agree, the Amish are largely self-sufficient (they make their own clothes, can their own food), etc. But they still needed cash to pay taxes, buy stuff they can’t make (like sugar). I expect they did suffer a bit during the Depression, but very few starved.
As the Great Depression was a time of deflation, their income from the sale of produce dropped…but unless they were evicted for non-payment of taxes, they were probably OK.

Yeah, and one of the big things about Amish communities is while they aren’t necessarily cash rich because their raw income usually isn’t that high, they are “net worth” rich. Amish farmers are much more likely to own their property outright, with no outstanding mortgage. The Amish aren’t opposed to mortgages though, and a typical Amish farm will often be purchased with one, but making that monthly payment is seen as a family responsibility so if something is going bad with one farm that farmer’s brother or parents would kick in money to make sure the mortgage is paid before they let the payment lapse–not paying debts is seen as shameful to the entire extended family.

The Amish are just as likely as other farmers to focus on producing products that make good money, but because of their unique lifestyle they usually dedicate a small portion of their land to basic survival produce so they can generate a lot of their own food. During the Great Depression era most small farmers raised crops that primarily you would sell for cash, they would use the cash to buy groceries and etc, so if the crop market collapsed those farmers were a lot more likely than the Amish to be unable to feed themselves. A typical small farmer back then probably had a few things going to feed themselves (probably had chickens for sure, for example) but not enough to truly live off of with $0 cash income.

Farmers who managed to stay on the land generally didn’t starve except in places affected by the ecological disasters of the Dust Bowl. However, most farmers had borrowed heavily in order to mechanize in the decade and a half before the Depression, and that was what led to most of them getting kicked off the land. The Amish obviously didn’t have that problem, although even their technology friendly anabaptist cousins generally didn’t borrow either.

Looks like they finally found a form of electricity that doesn’t connect them to the English World.