Libraries exhibit explores the Amish, Mennonites and Hutterites

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The University Libraries’ exhibit “Deep Roots: The Amish, Mennonites and Hutterites,” on display through April 27 in Sidewater Commons, first floor Pattee Library, features representative images from three collections in the Eberly Family Special Collections Library. Together these collections comprise one of the largest and most comprehensive resources on the history and culture of these Anabaptist groups in the United States.

Today’s Amish, Mennonites and Hutterites are descendant sects of Anabaptists, who were early promoters of a free church and freedom of religion. This view, going back to the 15th century, was sometimes equated with anarchy and stoic traditionalism. Anabaptists are Christians who believe in delaying Baptism until the individual confesses their faith.

The images in this exhibition are culled from three separate collections from the resources within the Special Collections Library: the John A. Hostetler papers, the Gertrude Huntington papers and the Christopher Gaines Memorial Library collection.

John Hostetler was raised Old Order Amish, not far from the University Park campus. Eventually he left the Amish church and joined the Mennonite church. He went on to become a renowned sociologist, author and one of the leading authorities on Amish life and culture.

Gertrude Huntington was a professor, field anthropologist, lecturer and researcher. She authored a number of books and articles on the Anabaptists as well as frequently collaborated with Hostetler. For her 1957 doctoral degree in social science from Yale University, she and her daughter lived in several Amish communities and recorded their lives as an anthropological study.

Nancy Gaines, the mother of Christopher, donated the extensive book collection in honor of her son’s memory. She was a friend and colleague of John Hostetler.

In addition to their combined total of more than 3,000 books, these collections offer photographs, family genealogies, audio recordings of interviews, research field notes, correspondence, diaries, artifacts including clothing and extensive ranges of journal publications. You can learn more about these resources by visiting the Special Collections website at or by visiting the Special Collections Library, 104 Paterno Library, on the University Park campus.

Questions about this exhibition can be addressed to Paul Karwacki at or 814-863-9870.

The "Deep Roots" exhibit launched in conjunction with the #ColorOurCollections social media coloring pages outreach event among national libraries and museums. The University Libraries has prepared six Pennsylvania German hex sign designs from the Gaines collection for sharing on its social media platforms on Twitter and Facebook.

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Last Updated February 16, 2016