Iowa Public Television



.: home
.: the shows
.: side roads
.: iowa history 663300
.: iowa music 3333cc
.: iowa images 99cccc
.: contact/faq 990066
.: resources FF3333
.: search 993399

The Shows (Feature 1221.240)
Picturing Utopia

What if, by means of forbidden photographs, you could go back in time and witness life in a turn of the century religious utopia? In her book, "Picturing Utopia, Bertha Shambaugh and the Amana Photographers," author Abigail Foerstner provides that opportunity and goes a step further by exposing the photographers who took them.

In the mid 1800's, German immigrants established a self-sufficient, communal and religious society in the villages in eastern Iowa we know as the Amana Colonies. Photography was forbidden because it was considered to be a worldly vanity in a society that wanted to be separate from the influences of the outside world in order to focus on a spiritual life.

A group of prominent members of Amana society felt that documenting their lifestyle in a rapidly changing world was more important than breaking the rule against taking pictures. The photographers took great care in capturing all types of photos from still lifes to local disasters. They left us a time capsule of a gentler way of life.

Picturing Utopia
pictures { Click to view the full image Click to view the full image
contacts { Abigail Foerstner
Phone: (847)256-6425

State Historical Society of Iowa, Iowa City
Phone: (319)335-3916
Web Site

Museum of Amana History
P.O. Box 81, Amana, IA 52203
Phone: (319)622-3567
Web Site

University of Iowa Press
100 Kuhl House, Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: orders (800)621-2736
Web Site
links { Museum of Amana History

University of Iowa Press

State Historical Society of Iowa