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Pushing William Penn's "Holy Experiment" to its Limits: Ephrata Cloister

By John Bradley
This article originally appeared in Pennsylvania Heritage Magazine
Volume XXII, Number 4 - Fall 1996

A popular visitors' attraction, Ephrata Cloister in Lancaster County, home to a monastic communal society, was founded by Conrad Beissel (1691-1768), a charismatic - and enigmatic - religious leader.  His followers who inhabited the unusual medieval-style complex were well known for their literary and artistic brilliance, in addition to their highly unconventional religious beliefs.On the banks of the Cocalico Creek in northern Lancaster County a group of remarkable individuals established Ephrata, one of colonial Pennsylvania's most unusual communities. A place of intense spirituality, unconventional way of life, literary and artistic brilliance, and medieval-style architecture, Ephrata was the center of a religious society whose principles gave William Penn's "Holy Experiment" its most extreme test. The society's surviving buildings and structures, more than two and a half centuries old, comprise Ephrata Cloister, a popular stop on the well traveled Pennsylvania Trails of History™, administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC).

A consummate idealist, William Penn (1644–1718) envisioned a diversified colony whose citizens would represent many nationalities and a host of religious faiths. Variety, he though, would produce a vital community far superior to other American settlements which demanded conformity. From its founding in 1681, Pennsylvania quickly became a laboratory where its proprietor's formula was distilled and scrutinized. English Anglicans joined Scots-Irish Presbyterians, Welsh Quakers, and French Huguenots as the colony developed the most diverse society in the New World. When immigrants from the German states began flooding into Pennsylvania in the 1720s they brought with them a multitude of denominations and sects. It was not long before the colony was home to Reformed, Lutheran, Moravian, Schwenkfelder, Mennonite, Amish, and German Baptist congregations.

Among these newcomers were individuals who united about 1730 to form a new Protestant sect, the German Seventh Day Baptists, and a new community, Ephrata, in the wilderness of Conestoga, the region just east of the Susquehanna River. "Here, on the frontier these pioneers created a society that perfectly personified William Penn's dream of religious toleration," says Nadine A. Steinmetz, division chief for PHMC's Bureau of Historic Sites and Museums who, until recently, served for more than eleven years as director of Ephrata Cloister. She describes the society's members as "brave and vulnerable people who abandoned conventional lifestyles and chose to live on the edge."

A visit to Ephrata Cloister offers a firsthand look at mystic Conrad Beissel's unusual communal society in Lancaster County.At Ephrata, "life on the edge" translated into a radical departure from the norm of eighteenth-century Pennsylvania, pulled by the intensity of the community's mystical religious beliefs. For this group, life's goal was not material prosperity but the union of the individual soul with God. To achieve this joining, members of the sect believed it necessary to adopt an austere life of discipline and self-denial, to shun physical comfort, to limit the intake of food (in both variety and quantity), and to abandon traditional forms of marriage and family life. Indeed, a chief characteristic of Ephrata's followers was their belief that celibacy was preferable to matrimony. Adult baptism by total immersion observance of the Sabbath (on the seventh day, or Saturday) and millennialism (the expectation of Christ's imminent second coming), were also elements of their creed.

The architect of Ephrata—and its "life on the edge"—was its founder and spiritual guide, the enigmatic religious enthusiast, Conrad Beissel (1691–1768), who first settled beside the Cocalico Creek in 1732. "Beissel was surely a charismatic individual," says Steinmetz, adding, "but he is also a study in contrasts and contradictions," a man who intrigued his contemporaries and has perplexed historians for more that two centuries. A self-taught theologian, Beissel was a native of Eberbach, on the Neckar River in the Palatinate. While traveling in Germany as a young journeyman baker, he encountered a variety of dissenting religions and extreme philosophies and, borrowing ideas from various groups he met, began to construct his novel beliefs. A visit to Ephrata Cloister offers a firsthand look at mystic Conrad Beissel's unusual communal society in Lancaster County.

Not long after arriving in Pennsylvania in 1720, Beissel joined the German Baptists (present-day Church of the Brethren), becoming eventually a leader of the group because of his abilities as an evangelist. While pastor of the Baptist congregation in Conestoga, Beissel continued his personal religious explorations, disseminating his ideas through sermons and writings which revealed that he was diverging from Baptist doctrine. When his beliefs grew in 1732, he moved to the site upon which Ephrata would be built, where he hoped to live as a religious hermit. As he continued to write and to preach, the charismatic Beissel began to draw others attracted by his mystical views. Gradually both a society and a community began to congeal.

Close-up of one of the buildings at Ephrata Cloister.Names for a section of the Biblical town of Bethlehem, Ephrata began as a cluster of small cabins, each housing one or two members of the new sect, on a tract of one hundred and eighty acres. As additional converts joined Beissel's followers, the community constructed group residences and meetinghouses whose architecture was markedly different from buildings in British North America. Ephrata's medieval-style German structures, with their steeply-pitched roofs, multiple tiny dormer windows, and central A-shaped chimneys, were wooden copies of the large stone buildings the inhabitants remembered from Rhine River valley.

A series of water-powered mills, a bakery, and an orchard were added as the community continued to grow during the 1730s and 1740s. During these decades, Pennsylvania's German settlers experienced a series of religious revivals, part of the "Great Awakening" that renewed interest in spirituality throughout the American colonies. Beissel and fellow sect members successfully evangelized among their neighbors in Lancaster County, in the Tulpehocken Valley (of what are present-day Lebanon and Berks Counties), in central New Jersey, and in Germantown, Pennsylvania's oldest German community. Many of the converts had German Baptist roots, although others, including Peter Miller (1709–1796), an ordained Reformed minister who had been educated at the University of Heidelberg, came from the full spectrum of German churches and sects.

In sparsely furnished quarters, talented members of Ephrata Cloister created exquisite fraktur, including elegantly embellished alphabets. By 1750, Ephrata was the center for three hundred people who had differentiated themselves from the larger community by the uniqueness of their spiritual views and practices. Their congregation was split by a great divide, a feature that determined each individual's place of residence, occupation, diet, wearing apparel and, most significantly, marital status. Ephrata's internal separator was the doctrine of celibacy, which emerged from Beissel's conviction that conventional marriage and family life interfered unacceptably with the individual's spiritual growth. As with many practices at Ephrata, celibacy was recommended, not required. The sect was separated into the unwed "sisters" and "brother," and the married couples, known as "householders."

For celibate members of the Ephrata community, life was Spartan. Single men and women dressed in hooded, loose-fitting monastic white robes made of linen or wool. They went barefoot in all but the coldest weather. The communal dormitories, strictly segregated by sex, were sparsely furnished. Although living in a prosperous agricultural area, they ate meagerly, usually restricting themselves to one meal per day. They generally avoided meat, choosing bread, barley soup, pumpkin mush, beets, vegetable greens, fruits, and cheeses. "Being less concerned with physical and material comfort allowed them to come closer to achieving the spiritual perfection they were seeking," explains Steinmetz. She theorizes that their self-denial "actually brought them happiness and peace."

In sparsely furnished quarters, talented members of Ephrata Cloister created exquisite fraktur, including elegantly embellished alphabets.The sisters and brothers found contentment in their labor. The women spent nine hours a work each day; their tasks, included spinning and weaving, needlework, basketry, and gardening. Ephrata's women were held in higher esteem than was typical in the colonial era, and several, such as Maria Eicher (1710–1784), a long-time leader of the sisters, exercised authority and influence within the society. While some brothers worked as farmers, carpenters, and bread makers, others operated the community's water-powered sawmill, gristmill, and linseed oil mill, and tanned leather or printed books. Both sexes spend their non-working hours at individual devotions, in study, at prayer, or in group worship. When night fell they slept on fourteen-inch-wide wooden benches, with brick-size wood blocks as headrests, in tiny individual rooms in the respective sisters' and brothers' houses.

Steinmetz cautions that the celibates did not blindly follow a strict regiment without deviation, or as saints, passionless, pious, and perfect. "They were ordinary people, real people, who had the same human frailties we experience today," she points out. One good example to Conrad Weiser (1696–1760), colonial Pennsylvania's noted ambassador to the Iroquois Confederation (see "Finding a Light in the Forest: Conrad Weiser Homestead" by Philip E. Pendleton in the Summer 1996 issue). During the eight years Weiser was nominally a celibate monk at Ephrata, from 1735–1743, he fathered four children with his wife Anna Eve. And the history of Ephrata is not immune from incidents of jealousy, petty bickering, factionalism, desertion, and expulsion.

Except for the earliest years of Ephrata's existence, the married householders comprised the sect's largest group. Even in 1750, when the celibate orders were at their peak, householders outnumbered the unwed by a ratio of two to one. Available evidence suggests that the householders did not share the severe lifestyle adopted by the celibates. Although some couple practiced abstinence, most had children. Their diets were not limited, they owned more possessions, they did not wear monastic garb, nor did they sleep on wooden benches. Most householders did not reside in the celibate community at Ephrata; the majority of families lived on farms located within a five-mile radius of the settlement.

n sparsely furnished quarters, talented members of Ephrata Cloister created exquisite fraktur, including elegantly embellished alphabets.Detrich (1696–1775) and Margaretha (1702–1783) Fahnestock were a representative householder couple. They moved to Ephrata from Amwell, New Jersey, in 1741, three years after their conversion and lived in a large stone house on their two hundred and eighty acre farm two miles from the religious colony. The Fahnestocks were the parents of ten children, seven of whom were born before the family joined the congregation. Most householders entered the society as couples, although a few were former celibates who had married. (Nearly every individual who abandoned celibacy quit the sect as well). While most of the husbands worked as farmers, others labored as papermakers, clock makers, weavers, tanners, smiths, and carpenters. Their wives were busy from morning to night as they cared for children, cooked, sewed, worked beside their husbands in the fields, and saw to countless tasks required of women in colonial Pennsylvania.

As sundown neared on Friday evenings, brothers disengaged the gears of the gristmill, sisters stilled their spinning wheels, and householders put away their farm tools. Ephrata's Sabbath had begun, and a day of worship and rest and reflection lay ahead. Saturday morning's meeting would include singing, scripture reading, and individual testimonies from congregation members. Strongly influenced by the German Pietist tradition, religion was highly personalized, with each believer seeking to experience a direct connection with God. Sermons, often delivered extemporaneously, offered commentaries on ways to form such a bond. Conrad Beissel, sat, then stood while he preached, gesturing frequently and speaking rapidly in an "enthusiastic and whimsical style," according to an observer.

The Cloister's printing center produced one hundred and twenty-five books.Ephrata's celibates also met each midnight, in their separate chapels, for two-hour devotional services which the householders did not attend. On special occasions the entire congregation would join in the Love Feast, a full meal which included lamb stew, designed to enhance the spiritual intimacy that bound the society. The Love Feast was based on the agape, a meal eaten by the earliest Christians. Ephrata's Love Feast included prayer, scripture reading, and Holy Communion followed by foot-washing, a rite performed to demonstrate humility and fellowship. Participants sang hymns before and after the meal.

Singing played a major role at Ephrata, where sacred music was an important part of worship and daily life. Much like other German denominations, Beissel's followers at first used hymns brought from Europe, but it was not long before individuals began to compose original texts and scores. In 1747 the brothers published America's first entirely original hymnal, The Songs of the Lovely and Forsaken Turtledove, which contained two hundred and seventy-three pieces written at Ephrata. Over the next half century the community printed eight additional collections of sacred melodies. Beissel composed nearly five hundred hymns, and seventy-three of his adherents have been identified as authors of original pieces.

Ephrata's choirs sang for two purposes: to glorify God and to lift the singers to a higher plane. To reach these noble goals the community established a singing school in which vocalists received intensive training in unique methods. Visitors tell of singers sitting solemnly, with bowed heads, their mouths only partly open, producing "ethereal" sounds that hovered eerily about them. With no instrumental accompaniment, the choirs blended their "sweet, shrill, and small" voices in four or five part harmonies, reported the Philadelphia Anglican minister, Jacob Duché (1737–1798), who visited Ephrata in 1772.

One of the many books produced by male celibates.Technique alone would not produce the desired angelic sound, Conrad Beissel wrote in his 1747 Treatise on Music. After taking charge of the singing school he placed additional dietary restrictions on the musicians, proclaiming that only wheat bread, potatoes, and beets were good for their voices. Choir members were to avoid meat, eggs, dairy products, and honey. Beans were especially taboo because, alleged the songmaster, "they tend to awaken impure desires."

Steinmetz remarks that music at Ephrata was primarily a spiritual exercise. "Its purpose was not intended to be beautiful," she observes, explaining that the process, the act of composing or performing, was more important than the finished product. The same applies to the sect's other famous art form, pen-and-ink drawings and writings known as fraktur. Early German settlers in Pennsylvania created fraktur in a variety of types such as marriage and birth certificates. At Ephrata, fraktur ranged from all charts—measuring four-by-four feet!—of religious poetry to delicate floral illustrations in manuscript choral books.

The community's best fraktur artists worked carefully with quill pens, small brushes, inks of black, red, green, and blue, and the finest linen paper (made in the community). Their precise penmanship created textual works of elaborate beauty illustrated by magnificent alphabets of Ephrata's fraktur masterpieces, The Christian ABC of 1750. The delicate, two-dimensional images of tulips, carnations, pomegranates, hearts, and doves that adorned music manuscripts and bookplates were often highly symbolic, containing allegorical references similar to those found in Ephrata's poetry and published writing.

Historic interiors greet visitors.In the Brothers' House complex stood the sect's printing press which produced one hundred and twenty-five titles during the half century it was operated by the male celibates. With its paper mill, tannery, and book bindery, the community possessed a complete publishing center which turned out books of essays, theological works, hymnals, and histories, along with religious broadsides, pamphlets, and land indenture forms. The Martyrs' Mirror, colonial America's largest book at fifteen hundred pages, appeared in 1748. A history of the persecutions of Christian martyrs, it was written in the Netherlands in the seventeenth century and described the sufferings of the Anabaptist predecessors of Pennsylvania's Mennonites. The scholarly Peter Miller translated the text into German and supervised production of the mammoth tome. In time, Ephrata would issue a very different type of book: an account in 1763 of Africa and its people by the Philadelphia anti-slavery activist Anthony Benezet (1713–1784).

Five years after the publication of Benezet's book, Ephrata suffered the loss of Conrad Beissel. And so began the gradual decline of the community which his successor, Peter Miller, was unable to reverse. Ironically, as the community dwindled in the second half of the eighteenth century its fame spread throughout the colonies and western Europe. Descriptions of Ephrata were published in more than a dozen English, Scottish, German, French, and Swedish journals and books. Nevertheless, by 1771 even Miller was predicting the end of the community. Writing to Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790), a fellow member of the American Philosophical Society, Miller lamented that "we have not successors and the genius [essential nature] of the Americans is bound another way."

Meditation was part of daily life.Although correct about the imminent decline of celibacy at Ephrata, Miller misjudged the tenacity of the heirs of the community's householder branch. Following the death of the last sister in 1813, the married members regrouped, organizing the German Religious Society of Seventh Day Baptists of Ephrata, a congregation that endured for twelve decades. Throughout this era some descendants of original householder families moved into the old community buildings, thereby preserving them, and the congregation continued to worship in the sisters' meeting house. The Bauman family moved the printing press and worked it into the 1830s, but the society could no longer produce the original writing, music, and fraktur that had once distinguished Ephrata.

Years of factionalism and internal dissension weakened the congregation which lost its charter in 1934. Seven years later the Pennsylvania Historical Commission acquired the complex and began restoration of its buildings and structures. Today, eleven original edifices occupy a tract of twenty-five acres on bustling Main Street, near the shopping district, high school, and hospital of present-day Ephrata.

Steinmetz and the knowledgeable, enthusiastic staff have clear objectives for the fifty thousand visitors who tour Ephrata Cloister every year. "Our main purpose is to preserve the buildings and collection and to interpret them for our guests," Steinmetz emphasizes "Ideally, we'd like to engage visitors in finding themselves in the individuals who were part of this remarkable community."

A tour of Ephrata begins in the Visitor's Center where both permanent and changing exhibits of Cloister objects showcase fraktur books, furniture, and manuscripts. After an orientation program, visitors follow a robed guide who leads them toward a towering walnut tree, than turns abruptly to face Ephrata's signature buildings, the Saron (Sisters' House) and Saal (meetinghouse). Visitors today enjoy original music and hymns performed by the acclaimed Ephrata Cloister Chorus.

Stooping to clear the low, narrow doorways of the 1743 Saron, visitors marvel at the stark white walls, small windows, and sparse furnishings of the three-story building's kitchen, dining room, and work areas. Some notice the kitchen's crudely chiseled sandstone sink or elegantly simple poplar trestle table, while for others the mammoth loom and wooden stocking stretchers of the weaving room are most intriguing. The sleeping rooms, complete with benches and woodblock pillows, never fail to fascinate those who glimpse them from the narrow corridor which leads to the chapel.

Built two years before the Sisters' House, Ephrata's half-timbered Saal is one of the oldest places of worship in Pennsylvania. Dimly lighted on even the sunniest day, the meeting house is unadorned, with only three large frakturs punctuating its plain white walls. Visitors may rest briefly on primitive benches while they scan the room's balconies and admire the modest beauty of the pulpit bench, table, and a pair of handsome candlesticks made of oak, walnut, and poplar. In an upper floor the sisters held singing and writing schools, while cooks prepared the famous Ephrata Love Feast in the ground-level kitchen to the rear.

Moving past the Almonry, the community's bakery, granary, and center for works of charity such as sheltering travelers, the tour winds toward the clapboarded log cabin Householders' Dwelling. Laid out in the common Pennsylvania German three-room plan, this house and its furnishings shed light on the way of life on a typical householder family in 1800. One look reveals that Ephrata's married community did not follow the austere practices of its celibate counterparts. Refinements not found in the Sisters' House catch the eye, such as a cherry spice box, a 1806 Hepplewhite slant-top desk, a hand-painted blanket chest, English pearlware china, a dainty mirror, and an original Ephrata bedstead with straw mattress and a child's cradle.

A recent acquisition: an important fraktur music book.At tour's end, visitors are encouraged to examine other features of the complex, such as God's Acre, one of the community cemeteries. God's Acre serves as the burial place of Conrad Beissel, Peter Miller, and multiple generations of Fahnestocks, Konigmachers, and Zerfasses, prominent householder families. For some guests, a look at Beissel's small home, as sparsely furnished as the humblest sleeping chamber in the Sisters' House, is revealing. The Print Shop illustrates the prominent place that publishing played at Ephrata. On display are a press and pieces of original German lead type found during a 1965 archaeological excavation at the site of the Brothers' House, a magnificent building that was dismantled early in this century.

Everyone enjoys a visit to Ephrata's "youngest" building, the 1837 Academy, a private school operated by the Seventh Day Baptist congregation. In an era when public secondary schools existed only in Pennsylvania's larger cities, older students at this rural academy studied English, geography, astronomy, trigonometry, chemistry, and natural philosophy for a tuition payment of five cents a day. Education had a long tradition at Ephrata, where a Sabbath school was established in the 1740s under the direction of instructor Ludwig Hocker (1717–1792). Hocker's School Booklet, published by the brothers in 1786, was a teacher's manual on methods of presenting reading, writing, and arithmetic to students.

For those fascinated by the lives of Ephrata's celibate mystics, a "must see" attraction, the solitary House, is nestled on the bank of Zion Hill at the south end of the complex. This little cabin, typical of the dwellings built by Beissel and his first followers, reflects the choice of some individuals to live singly, as "solitaries," rather than among others in the large communal dormitories. Here, at the edge of the community, it is easy to visualize a robed, bearded monk sitting at this plain maple desk, surrounded by books and manuscripts, contemplating his life and his spiritual quest that had brought him to this unusual place. Visitors who had wondered what it must feel like to lie on a narrow wooden bench, rest their heads on wood block pillows, or don the plain monastic robes of Ephrata may try all three in this building.

Regular tours of Ephrata Cloister, which is open year-round, are supplemented by special events such as weekend candlelight tours during summer months and the popular "Christmas at the Cloister" celebrations in the Saal in December. Christmas Candlelight Tours dramatize vignettes of Ephrata history during the last week in December. The renowned Ephrata Cloister Chorus presents original Ephrata hymns and the music of the community's contemporaries at performances given for the public. The Sisters' House, or Saron, is one of the historic site's signature buildings.

Actively promoting these and many other special activities are the five hundred avid supporters who make up the Ephrata Cloister Associates. In addition to providing volunteers for many events the organization operates the museum store and publishes original Ephrata texts in translation. The group also spearheads "Back to the Cloister Fund" that has financed the return of more than one hundred original objects, manuscripts, books, and furnishings during the past ten years.

The Ephrata Cloister Associates has recently co-sponsored two academic conferences which convened scholars who have discussed their latest research into aspects of Ephrata's past. New understandings of the community are emerging as historians study personal account books, deeds, wills, estate inventories, and tax lists. Musicologists analyze Ephrata hymnals, while theologians explore the sect writings and those of European thinks who influenced Conrad Beissel and his followers. The highly visible Ephrata Cloister Archaeology Project, a twelve-year venture that combines state-of-the-art methods, such as ground penetrating radar, with traditional spade and trowel work, has uncovered evidence that questions some traditional interpretations of Ephrata's story. Most pointedly, the excavations have shattered historians' and visitors' image of Ephrata as a static, unchanging society and reminds both that even in this divergent community "life on the edge" of conventionality was constantly being transformed. History abounds at Ephrata Cloister - through tours, in interiors, and even at stables.

And because it could change and evolve, Ephrata Cloister endured for two centuries. It also survived because of William Penn's gift of religious freedom to his colony. Ephrata surely give the "Holy Experiment" a severe trial, pushing its promise of toleration to the limit. Pennsylvania thrived and Ephrata offered proof: the experiment worked.

For visitors wanting to see for themselves how well Ephrata Cloister worked, hours of operation are Monday through Saturday, 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M., and Sunday, Noon to 5 P.M. There is a fee for admission. To obtain additional information, write: Ephrata Cloister, 632 West Main Street, Ephrata, PA 17522; or telephone (717) 733-6600. Individuals with disabilities or who need special assistance or accommodation should telephone or write the historic site in advance of their visit to discuss their needs. Persons who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired who wish to contact a hearing person via Text Telephone may use the PA Relay Center at (800) 654-5984.

Lancaster County offers visitors a seemingly boundless variety of historic sites and museums, including two administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Landis Valley Museum in Lancaster (see "Landis Valley Museum: The Legacy of Two Brothers Lives On!" by Laura Knowles Callanan) and the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania at Strasburg (see "Where History & Magic Converge: The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania" by James Alexander Jr.).

Popular museums and historic sites in the City of Lancaster include the Heritage Center Museum of Lancaster County, which showcases more than two centuries of objects and furnishings made, owned, or used by countians; Wheatland, the stately residence of President James Buchanan (1791–1868) upon his return to Lancaster from the White House in 1861; and Rock Ford Plantation, the eighteenth century mansion of General Edward Hand (1744–1802), aid to George Washington. Also located in the city, the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society interprets this historical background, religious beliefs, and expression, culture, and genealogy of Mennonite and Amish groups originating in southeastern Pennsylvania, and the Historical Society of Lancaster County collects, preserves and interprets objects documenting the county's history.

A view of an interior. Other attractions in Lancaster County include the Robert Fulton Birthplace in Quarryville, administered locally for the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission; the Hans Herr House in Willow Street; and the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors Museum and Wright’s Ferry Mansion, both in Columbia.

For more information on historical attractions near the Ephrata Cloister, visit www.padutchcountry.com or write Pennsylvania Dutch Convention & Visitors Bureau,
501 Greenfield Road, Lancaster, PA 17601, or phone toll free: (800) PADUTCH [800-723-8824].

John Bradley, a resident of Lancaster, grew up in Ephrata and recalls childhood visits to Ephrata Cloister. During summers of his college years, he worked at the historic site as groundskeeper, night watchman, and guide. He is a member of the board of directors and past president of the Ephrata Cloister Associates. With Nadine A. Steinmetz, former director of Ephrata Cloister, he served as co-editor of Ephrata Cloister School Booklet: An Eighteenth Century Textbook for Children (1988). The author received his bachelor of arts degree in history from Dickinson College, Carlisle, and his master of arts degree in history from the University of Pennsylvania. He teaches American history at Oxford Area High School in Oxford, Chester County. A tour in progress.

The editor wishes to thank Nadine A. Steinmetz for her review of this article prior to publication and for her assistance in acquiring illustrations. The editor also wishes to acknowledge the contributions of Craig A. Benner, Ephrata, whose photographs illustrate this article and grace the front of this issue.


Historical Archaeology at Ephrata Cloister, a series of yearly reports on excavations and investigations at the Lancaster County historic site, written by Stephen G. Warfel, senior curator of archaeology for The State Museum of Pennsylvania, reveals the value of historical archaeology as it literally uncovers the myths and biases concerning the unusual communal society.


For Further Reading

Benson, Cynda. Early Illuminated Manuscripts from the Ephrata Cloister. Northampton, Mass.: Smith College Museum of Art, 1995.

Garvan, Beatrice B., and Charles F. Hummel. The Pennsylvania Germans: A Celebration of Their Arts, 1683-1850. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1982.

Lamech and Agrippa. Chronicon Ephratense: A History of the Community of the Seventh Day Baptists at Ephrata. New York: Lenox Hill Publishing, 1972.

Reichmann, Felix, and Eugene E. Doll. Ephrata as Seen by Contemporaries. Allentown: The Pennsylvania German Folklore Society, 1953.

Sangmeister, Ezechiel. Leben Wandel: Life and Conduct of the Late Brother Ezechiel Sangmeister. Ephrata: Historical Society of the Cocalico Valley, 1979-1985.

Secor, Robert, ed. Pennsylvania 1776. University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1975.

Warfel, Stephen G. Historical Archaeology at Ephrata Cloister. Harrisburg: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1994.

Weiser, Frederick S., and Howell J. Heaney. The Pennsylvania German Fraktur of the Free Library of Philadelphia. Breinigsville: The Pennsylvania German Society, 1976.