Snapshots of Another Time: the Amish Diaries

Diaries, it would seem are a dime a baker’s dozen; the stuff of memory boxes or victims of floods. Occasionally, there are gems. In one case, there were hundreds up for auction recently at Horst Auction Center in Ephrata, Pa. They were all written by the Amish, who are most known for their plain simple attire and resistance to modern conveniences. So it was fascinating for New York Times reporter Eve M. Kahn to see the Amish themselves bidding for this unique collection. About a dozen shelled out $3,000 for the lots, which included 1850 daybooks and 1930s-90s annotations. It turned out all these journals were owned by an Ohio collector who was fascinated by the Amish culture. He apparently bought the ephemera at box sales. “The Amish are not a particularly sentimental group,” said John Parmer, a historian in Akron, Pa. “Only now are they realizing these are precious family treasures.” Interestingly, Amish bidders agreed amongst themselves not to contend against each other for items pertinent to friends and relatives. Parmer expects the Amish will likely study their purchases and then donate them to historical society.