Steve Nolt

Professor of History, SST China (FA)

Steve Nolt


  • BA, Goshen College, 1990
  • MATS, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblicalseminary, 1994
  • MA, University of Notre Dame, 1996
  • PHD, University of Notre Dame, 1998

I have been teaching at Goshen College since 1999 and I thoroughly enjoy learning alongside  Goshen students and my faculty colleagues.  My formal training as an historian is in the areas of U.S. immigration and ethnic history and American religious history.  I also have significant personal and professional interest in Mennonite and Amish history and thought.

Recently I completed two multi-year collaborative research projects:

  • Global Mennonite History Project. Along with Professor Royden Loewen (U. of Winnipeg), I wrote the North America volume for the GMHP, a five-volume (one per continent) series commission by Mennonite World Conference.  Our book, Seeking Places of Peace, was published in 2012, as a fresh interpretation of Mennonite history, emphasizing social history and accenting the twentieth century.
  • Amish Diversity and Identity, 1900-2010.  Professors Donald B. Kraybill (Elizabethtown College), Karen M. Johnson-Weiner (SUNY-Potsdam), and I undertook a collaborative research project funded, in part, by the National Endowment for the Humanities. A book  growing out of this research, entitled The Amish, documents Amish life across the United States and was published in April 2013 by The Johns Hopkins University Press.

My current writing projects include Anabaptists in America, a book that will be a part of Columbia University Press’s Columbia Contemporary American Religion Series, as well as a history of the church in which I was raised, Mellinger Mennonite Church, Lancaster, Pa., which will soon be observing its three hundredth anniversary (1717-2017).


[Hist 105]  American History I

History of the American colonies and the United States through the Civil War and Reconstruction. Also introduces the study of history as an academic discipline.

[Hist 205]  Immigration and American Identity  (a Social World Perspectives course in the Goshen Core)

Immigration has been central to personal and national identity in the United States. It has also been a fiercely contested issue. Why has the movement of people across national borders generated both celebration and scorn? How has  immigration produced patterns of inclusion, exclusion, assimilation, and discrimination? This course will include debates and case studies from both the past and the present.

[Hist 321] History of Mennonites in America

Emphasis on Mennonites as a people developing and interacting with the larger American society, using themes such as migration, community formation, theology, acculturation and pacifist citizenship in war and peace.

[Hist 323]  Colonial & Revolutionary North America

Focus on cultural encounters and conflicts. Colonialism raises the question: How are cultures transported, replicated, and transformed? A look at contact between Europeans and Native Americans, between Europeans and Africans, between different European colonial projects, and finally between Anglo-American colonists and Britain.

[Hist 324]  Slavery, Civil War & Reconstruction

Exploration of the central role of slavery in American society and politics, including its role in the Civil War and in Reconstruction. Other themes include the relationship of religion and war, postwar constructions of race and racism, and the memory of the Civil War.

[Hist 326]  Recent United States History

A look at events that shaped the most recent generations of Americans. From grand expectations of the Civil Rights movement, faith in science, and the possibilities of affluence and social reform, U.S. society confronted war in Vietnam, Watergate, environmental destruction, culture wars, and ‘new world orders’ following 1989 and 2001.

[Hist 327]  American Immigration & Ethnic History

An examination of the development of ethnic and racial identities in the United States, from the colonial period(s) to the present. Immigration patterns, forced migration, assimilation, ethnicization, nativism, family and gender dynamics, immigration and naturalization law and multicultural debates were important factors in these processes.

[Hist 314]  Modern China

Exploration of Chinese history with a view to understanding contemporary political, social, and economic developments. About one-third of the course looks at traditional Chinese society and culture, and the remainder examines developments since 1911 and especially since 1949.

Other courses taught (past and present)

Identity, Culture, and Community

American History II

Jacksonian America

Old Order Amish: History, Culture, Society

History Seminar: Analysis

History Seminar: Synthesis

U.S. Constitution & Government

Nationalism and War: Nineteenth-century America

War, Peace, and Nonresistance

U.S. History and Culture [for international students]



The Amish: A Concise Introduction, under contract with The Johns Hopkins University Press for spring 2016.

A History of the Amish, 3rd ed.  Good Books, 2015.  Pp. 406.  First edition, 1992; second edition, 2003.  French edition, 2010. Chinese edition, 2015.

The Amish, with Donald B. Kraybill and Karen M. Johnson-Weiner. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013. Pp. 520. Named a Choice “Outstanding Academic Title.”

The Amish, 3rd ed., with John A. Hostetler and Ann E. Hostetler.  Herald Press, 2013. Pp. 56.

Seeking Places of Peace. A Global Mennonite History: North America, with Royden Loewen. Good Books/Pandora Press, 2012. Pp. 400.

The Amish Way: Patient Faith in a Perilous World, with Donald B. Kraybill and David Weaver-Zercher.  Jossey-Bass, 2010. Pp. 268. Paperback edition, 2012.

Through Fire and Water: An Overview of Mennonite History, Rev. ed. with Harry Loewen.  Herald Press, 2010. Pp. 335.  First edition, 1996.

Mennonites, Amish, and the American Civil War, with James O. Lehman.  The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007. Pp. 358.

Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy, with Donald B. Kraybill and David Weaver-Zercher.  Jossey-Bass, 2007. Pp. 237. Revised paperback edition, 2010. Audiobook,  2008; Japanese edition, 2008; German edition, 2009; Korean edition, 2009; French edition, 2014. Named Christianity Today 2008 Award of Merit title for Christianity and Culture. Selected as a Best Book of 2007 by Publisher’s Weekly and as a Best Spiritual Book of 2007 by Spirituality & Practice.

Plain Diversity: Amish Cultures and Identities, with Thomas J. Meyers.  The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007. Pp. 244.

An Amish Patchwork: Indiana’s Old Orders in the Modern World, with Thomas J. Meyers. Indiana University Press, 2005. Pp. 192.

Amish Enterprise: From Plows to Profits, 2nd ed., with Donald B. Kraybill. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004.  Pp. 286.  First edition, 1995.  Named a Choice “Outstanding Academic Title.”

Foreigners in Their Own Land: Pennsylvania Germans in the Early Republic.  Penn State University Press, 2002.  Pp. 238.  Paperback edition, 2008.

Amish Micro-Enterprises: Models for Rural Development, with Stephen M. Smith, et al. Pennsylvania State University College of Agricultural Sciences,  1994.  Pp. 110.

Recent book chapters

“The Soul of the American University,” in American Evangelicalism: George Marsden and the State of American Religious History, ed. by Darren Dochuk, Thomas S. Kidd, and Kurt W. Peterson, 312-33. University of Notre Dame Press, 2014.

“Activist Impulses Across Time: North American Evangelicalism and Anabaptism as Conversation Partners,” in The Activist Impulse: Essays on the Intersection of Evangelicalism and Anabaptism, ed. by Jared S. Burkholder and David C. Cramer, 11-44. Pickwick Publications, 2012.

“Why the Amish Forgave a Killer,” in An Anthology of Living Religions, 3rd ed., ed. by Mary Pat Fisher and Lee W. Bailey, 258-60. Prentice Hall/Pearson Education, 2012.

“MCC’s Relationship with ‘Plain’ Anabaptists in Historical Perspective,” in A Table of Sharing: Mennonite Central Committee and the Expanding Networks of Mennonite Identity, ed. by Alain Epp-Weaver, 135-66. Cascadia Publishing House, 2011.

“‘Mingle Our Religious Concerns with the Affairs of the State’? Nationalism, Reform, and Pennsylvania Germans in the Early Republic,” in Halle Pietism, Colonial North America, and the Young United States, ed. by Hans-Jürgen Grabbe, 257-72. Stuttgart, Germany: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2008.

“Inscribing Community: The Budget and Die Botschaft in Amish Life,” in The Old Order Amish and the Media, ed. by Diane Zimmerman Umble and David Weaver-Zercher, 181-98. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008.

Recent journal articles

“Amish Stories, Images, and Identities: Two Windows and a Mirror on Contemporary Conversation,” Conrad Grebel Review, 32 (Winter 2015), 4-28.

“Missions in North American Society: Microhistory as Macrohistory,” Mission Focus: Annual Review 19 (2011), 131-39.

“Mennonite Youth Ministry: A Response to Keeler and Yoder,” Journal of Youth Ministry 10 (Fall 2011), 61-65.

“Moving Beyond Stark Options: Old Order Mennonite and Amish Approaches to Mental Health,” Journal of Mennonite Studies 29 (2011), 133-51.

“Sources of Enterprise Success in Amish Communities,” with Donald B. Kraybill and Erik Wesner, Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy 5:2 (2011), 112-30.

“Globalizing a Separate People: World Christianity and North American Mennonites, 1940-1990,” The Mennonite Quarterly Review, 84 (October 2010), 487-506.

“Amish Enterprise: The Collective Power of Ethnic Entrepreneurship,” with Donald B. Kraybill and Erik J. Wesner, Global Business and Economics Review, 12:1/2 (2010), 3-20.

Organization of American Historians

Immigration and Ethnic History Society

Conference on Faith and History

Mennonite Historical Society

Elkhart County (Ind.) Historical Society

Michiana Anabaptist Historians


China (Fall 2014) and China (Fall 2008)  Our family spent August-November 2014 in Nanchong, a city in eastern Sichuan Province, with a delightful groups of GC students.  Although GC has had a long-standing program in China, the group we had led in 2008 was the first to be based in Nanchong, and we enjoyed being back in the city, six years later, with another SST group. During the first half of each semester Goshen Students lived with Chinese host families in Nanchong and took classes at China West Normal University. During the second half of the term, they moved to smaller cities (in 2014 these were Guang’an, Yilong, and Langzhong) where they taught English in Chinese secondary schools.

Visit the SST homepage


My wife Rachel and I are parents of two daughters, Lydia and Esther. Rachel is one of the pastors at Silverwood Mennonite Church here in Goshen.  Last summer we visited family in our home states of Michigan and Pennsylvania, and we spent the fall semester in China and visited Japan for ten days on our way home in December.

Among the books I’ve read in recent months are Philip Wickeri, Reconstructing Christianity in China: K. H. Ting and the Chinese Church (Orbis, 2007); George Marsden, The Twilight of the American Enlightenment: The 1950s and the Crisis of Liberal Belief (Basic Books, 2014); Sean McMeekin, July 1914: Countdown to War (Basic Books, 2013); and Khaled Hosseini, And the Mountains Echoed (Riverhead Books, 2013).

Professor of History
Goshen College
Chair, History and Political Science Department, 2005-2012; Snowden Fellow, Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies, Elizabethtown College, Fall 2009; Faculty leader, China Study-Service Term, Fall 2008 and Fall 2014
Assistant and Associate Professor of History
Goshen College
Spring 2003
Sessional Lecturer
Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary
Visiting Assistant Professor of History
University of Notre Dame
Spring 1997
Connelly Foundation Fellow and Visiting Instructor
Elizabethtown College