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Juniata's Beeghly Library Displays Exhibit on Amish Author

(Posted April 21, 2003)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Collected works by Amish author and musician Joseph Yoder will be on display from through May 30 in the second-floor Treasure Room in the Beeghly Library on the Juniata College campus.

In addition, Julia Kasdorf, associate professor of English at Penn State University, will give a special lecture on Yoder's career at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 29 in the Neff Lecture Hall in the von Liebig Center for Science.

The lecture is free and open to the public. The talk is part of the annual meeting/banquet of the Huntingdon County Historical Society at 6 p.m. in the Sill Boardroom in the von Liebig Center for Science, which requires tickets to attend.

Kasdorf is the author of "Fixing Tradition: Joseph Yoder, Amish American" and has published two books of poetry, "Sleeping Preacher" and Eve's Striptease."

Yoder is best known for his book "Rosanna of the Amish," a 1940 novel that lightly fictionalized the life of Yoder's mother in the Amish community of the Kishacoquillas Valley in Mifflin County, Pennsylvania. Although the book was self-published the novel has been reprinted many times and has sold more than 400,000 copies.

The library's display will include copies of Yoder's books, including rare editions of "Rosanna of the Amish." Another part of the display highlights Yoder's connection to Juniata College, as well as his extensive musical publications.

Yoder served as the Juniata's first athletic director (1901-1904) and traveled throughout Pennsylvania to recruit students for Juniata from 1920 to 1940. He also was an accomplished musician, and traveled extensively to present singing and musical programs in Pennsylvania high schools.

Yoder eventually left the Amish church and joined the Mennonite Church. Later in his life, he mounted a campaign to reform some Amish church traditions and ban certain Amish practices that Yoder considered withour basis in biblical teachings. He published many books, pamphlets and letters presenting his arguments for reform.

Much of Yoder's correspondence and print publications have been preserved the Juniata College Archives. These original publications and artifacts form the basis for the college's special exhibit in the library.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.