Mennonites in Texas
The Quiet in the Land
Texana - Photography
9 x 8.5, 133 pp.
48 b&w photots., Map.
Pub Date: 09/22/2006
Sam Rayburn Series on Rural Life, sponsored by Texas A&M University-Commerce
Price:        $35.00


Published by Texas A&M University Press

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Mennonites in Texas

The Quiet in the Land

By Laura L. Camden and Susan Gaetz Duarte

With their distinctive head coverings, plain dress, and quiet, unassuming demeanor, the Mennonites are a distinctive presence within the often flamboyant and proud people of Texas. If you have seen them at a gas station, in a grocery store, or even at the Dallas–Fort Worth airport, you have probably taken note and wondered how they came to be there.

In this photographic tour of two Texas Mennonite communities, separated by almost 450 miles, Laura L. Camden and Susan Gaetz Duarte introduce you to the Beachy Amish Mennonites of Lott, a small community of approximately 160 people in Central Texas, and the very different Mennonites of Seminole, a West Texas farming community of more than five thousand residents and five separate congregations, several of which still speak the Mennonite Low German.

Spending more than a year getting to know the families, participating in day-to-day activities, and photographing the unique culture of the communities, Camden and Gaetz Duarte developed deep insight into not just the religious beliefs but the family relationships, role expectations, and daily routines of these people. Through their camera lenses, they offer others a touchingly intimate view of a unique lifestyle seldom experienced by outsiders.

In a foreword, former governor Ann Richards identifies the book as part of both the long photographic tradition in Texas and the tradition of cultural and religious diversity in the state. Mark L. Louden’s introduction provides the historical backgrounds of Mennonites in Europe, their core beliefs, and their development into branches in North America. Dennis Carlyle Darling offers insightful comments on the photography that allows an intimate, respectful view of the people, their lifestyle, and their culture.

Laura L. Camden and Susan Gaetz Duarte are professional photographers based in Austin. Both earned master’s degrees in photojournalism from the University of Texas at Austin, where Gaetz Duarte currently teaches, and both have had their award-winning work widely published.

What Readers Are Saying:

“Arresting…the photographs themselves tell the story of who these people are…the authors have captured an often misunderstood facet of a surprisingly diverse group of peoples known as Mennonites.” --Great Plains Quarterly

“In sensitive and compelling images Camden and Gaetz open the windows to two distinctive Mennonite communities.” --Donald B. Kraybill, distinguished professor at Elizabethtown College and auth

“This smoothly written and beautifully illustrated book offers a splendid history…” --Manhattan Mercury

“…the fact that several of Camden and Duarte’s images capture the intensity and economic fragility of the lives of some of these Anabaptist families makes their late-twentieth-century images all the more indispensable.” --The Mennonite Quarterly Review


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