History 12 Reading Guide

The Community of True Inspiration at Amana

  • Jonathan G. Andelson, "The Community of True Inspiration from Germany to the Amana Colonies," in Pitzer, America's Communal Utopias, 181-203.
  • Charles Nordhoff, "The Amana Society," American Utopias, 25-59.

Further reading:

  • Herbert A. Wisbey, Jr., "Research Note:  Rufus Rockwell Wilson's Tour of Five Utopian Communities in 1888," Communal Societies 3 (1983), 140-146.
  • Jonathan G. Andelson, "The Gift to be Single:  Celibacy and Religious Enthusiasm in the Community of True Inspiration," Communal Societies5 (1985), 1-32.
  • Metin M. Cosgel, "Market Integration and Agricultural Efficiency in Communal Amana," Communal Societies 14 (1994), 36-48.
  • Henry Schiff, "Before and After 1932:  A Memoir," Communal Societies 4 (1984), 161-164 [on reserve with Cosgel].


Consider the Community of True Inspiration (Amana) as the third wave of the Radical German Pietist impulse of the pre-Revolutionary and early national years. Ask the same comparative questions that we addressed about the Rappites and the Separatists:

  • the significance of the community's Germanic origins in its utopian vision.
  • the economics of communal sharing.
  • the hierarchy and authority of the leadership.
  • the "boundaries" of the community.
  • the evolution of the community (its "success" and/or transformation).

Recall the comparisons and contrasts that we drew between Nordhoff's and Arndt's accounts of the Rappites.

  • How do Andelson's and Nordhoff's accounts compare?
  • On which aspects of the evolution of this enduring community does Andelson focus? Why?
  • What comparisons did Nordhoff set up between Amana, Harmony/Economy, and Zoar? Why
  • What similarities in their ideas and practices can we discern about the German Pietist communal societies as a whole?
  • What is utopia?