The more time I spend visiting with, studying, and writing about the Amish the more I realize how much there still is to know. Like most of you, I find them fascinating. I love their faith, their sense of community, and their devotion to the needs of their fellow man. But the more time I spend with the Amish, the more I realize that some of the popular (English) beliefs about the Amish aren’t entirely true.
I’m certain that at one time every popular belief about the Amish was grounded in fact, but the Amish are incredibly resourceful. They are ever-changing, deciding what of the modern world to keep and what to leave behind. And it’s these choices that make for such different beliefs and customs among the Amish as buggy color, suspender style, and head coverings, just to name a few.
One of the other big differences I’ve seen is with Amish dolls. It’s a popular belief that all Amish girls play with faceless dolls. As quaint as this idea is, it’s far from true. I’m not even positive that we can say most Amish girls play with faceless dolls considering what I’ve witnessed in Lancaster County.
That’s not to say that faceless Amish dolls aren’t out there, They are. But they may be different than you think.
These are the dolls I’ve collected in my travels. The doll on the left came from Ethridge, TN. The doll on the right is from Lancaster County, and the one in the middle is from Big Valley.
Sadie is my doll from Ethridge.
She was the first one in my collection, bought from a store there in Tennessee. The people who run the store are English, but have a good relationship with the Amish. The shop owners offer wagon rides through the Amish community and stop at certain houses that are tourist friendly. When we visited, I only wanted a doll, but there were none for sale at the houses where we stopped. (Note: Most of the Amish houses in the area have ‘shops’ where tourists can stop and buy jelly, jams, pickles, and the like.) When we got back to the store, the ladies there told me that they only had one Amish-made doll left. I snatched it up quickly. As they rung me out, they told me where the woman who made it lived (we actually stopped at her house on the tour) and they explained that her bishop said that she couldn’t make any more dolls to sell in the store.
Ruth is my doll from Lancaster County.
Notice that she has a commercial store tag. That’s because she was bought in town and was made in a factory. Even though, I’ve never seen my friend’s little girls play with faceless dolls. They play with regular old plastic-molded dolls like we had when we were kids. In fact, there are a lot of Amish girls who play with American Girl dolls and even have large, organized tea parties for them! I’m not sure when this change came about and I cannot speak for all the Pennsylvania Amish girls. This is just what I have seen myself.
This doll came from the Big Valley in Pennsylvania.
I bought her at the dry-goods store. It’s an Amish run store with no electricity. The shelves are just about head high and have a variety of goods, including books, cards, and homemade soap. And dolls of course. As you can see my dollie doesn’t have shoes. They were a separate purchase item. They also had kapps, bonnets, and other dresses for them. Sort of like Build-A-Bear, but not. <LOL>
Dolls are the one thing I always look for when I travel. Sometimes I can find them and sometimes not, but I’m always on the look-out.
Can you help me name my Big Valley doll? Submit a suggestion below and I’ll pick the top 4 or 5 and we’ll vote starting next week!
Also, by leaving a comment, you’ll be entered into this week’s drawing for the 3 sets of Amish Christmas Sleigh. (Remember, that’s one for you and one for a friend x three chances to win!)
And now for something completely different…
Reader Karen G, graciously shared this photo with me of the Amish buggies she saw recently in Whitehall, New York. It’s a wonderful picture! Notice the four different types of buggies represented. Thanks Karen!
She also emailed me a couple of links to some great articles about the Amish. Here they are if you have a mind to check them out!
And a big thanks to you all for reading!