The Amish: Inside and Out

I am an adult services Librarian who plans programs, and would like to know more about your speaking on the Amish. 

The information on your blog is fascinating. Please let me know whether you are locatd within range of Twinsburg . . . and if so, of your availability this fall and your fee. Thank you, Karen.

Last month I traveled to Twinsburg, Ohio to speak about my experiences with the Amish; those who are and those who left.

As I unpacked the clothes and hung them on hangers, a lady asked, "How'd you get all these clothes?"

"My son-in-law's Amish mother gave them back to him," I replied then challenged, "But can you guess what's wrong with what I'm doing?"


"I have them on hangers. The Swartzentruber Order of Amish, which our son-in-law left, makes hangers verboten. Their clothing is folded and tucked into drawers.

I shared - with the help of my Power Point - a brief history of this 400-year-old culture, and explained the many do's and don'ts. Along the way, I shared extraordinary stories of Mosie, Levi, Monroe, Sarah, Josh, Harvey, and others who've come through my home in their journey to adapt to the outside life.

"Do the Amish pay taxes?" a man asked.

"Some do. One misunderstanding is that Amish avoid taxes. Many are business owners, so they have a license and pay taxes. And then some do not."

When I began to explain the Dawdy Haus, I asked, "Who knows what this means?" Two ladies raised their hand. I asked one to explain it to the audience. She did. Spot on. I smiled and said, "This is one cultural practice I wish our society would adopt."

I showed the Amish ladies' frock and how Swartzentruber women are told to use straight pins to fasten all their clothing, aprons, etc. Other orders may allow safety pins, or snaps.

"Do they ever get stuck with a pin?"

"Good question. I dunno but, Sarah told me it took her about 30-minutes each morning to get all her Amish layers on and pinned."

The same audience member thought aloud, "I wonder if they ever stick a baby when they hold one."

Then I explained that the Ordnung dictates how women wear their hair, so that's another time-consuming morning task.

I proudly held up our Harvey's little boy clothes. The audience leaned forward and admired his wee handmade, blue overalls, the knee patches, and how the buttons were placed. Boys and men may wear buttons - only two.

"It looks like it's professionally sewn," one lady observed.

"His mother used a treadle," I explained.

Throughout, the audience was attentive, respectful, asked numerous questions. Most stayed afterward to examine the Amish clothing I brought or talk privately with me.

The program director insisted I bring along some of my books to make available to the audience. My book about seven Amish who left for the "forbidden" life, is still under consideration by a couple publishers. Hopefully, I'll have a contract for that tome soon!

A few days after speaking, I opened my email to 26 invitations to speak at other Ohio libraries!

Reading through the invites, I learned it was due to Karen's rave review on her library listserv:

For those who, like me, are always looking for a good, inexpensive adult program: 
This past Sunday, the Twinsburg Public Library hosted a program on Amish culture we called "The Amish Inside and Out," with speaker Brenda Nixon. 
The program surpassed my expectations in the warmth and appeal of the presenter and the breadth of her knowledge, particularly of the conservative Swartzentruber order. She begins with an overview of the Amish and ends with personal experiences and Q&A. Her daughter is married to an ex-Amish man, the son of a bishop, and their home has has become a sort of safe house for young men and women making the transition out of the Amish community. Brenda brings a simple Power Point and a suitcase of authentic Amish clothing for the audience to examine. She is the author of parenting books some of you may have in your collections, and has also contributed to several other books which she will bring for purchase and signing.
If anyone is interested in hosting her, her fee is very reasonable. You can contact her at speaker2parents @ juno.com.

Well guess what? 

I'm invited to share details, more unbelievable stories, my Power Power presentation & our son-in-law's childhood Amish clothes, Sunday, November 2 at Reed Public Library in Ravenna, Ohio and again November 9 at another library. I hope you'll come. The program is free and open to the public!

(C)Copyright, 2014. Brenda Nixon


  1. I would love to be at one of your presentations. I was born and raised Amish and used to make the Amish mutza suits, plus ladies black bonnets and white coverings. Even so I could never figure out is the Swartzentruber Amish women' dress garb. Wish I could have asked my grandma. She was never Swartzentruber Amish but when she was a teenager all the Holmes County Ohio Amish dressed alike, like the Swartzentruber's still do.

    1. Would totally love to have you in my audience Katie. This coming Sunday, Nov. 2, two former OOA are going to be in my audience.
      I have kapps but no black bonnets to show. Wish I had you here to make a bonnet - lol - but perhaps you wouldn't want to do that.
      As for the women's dress garb. Sarah - whom I've posted about - is a former Swartzie so she helps me understand the layers.

  2. Sounds like a great presentation! And fingers crossed for your book. :)