Sunday, November 8, 2015

Moravian Rites of Death in Bethlehem, PA


Escapes: Moravian rites of death in Bethlehem, PA.
By Sue Kovach Shuman September 28, 2012
The Washington Post



'Moravian funeral processions followed the path above from the Old Chapel to God’s Acre cemetery in Bethlehem, Pa. 

'With a little imagination, you can almost hear the trombones at God’s Acre cemetery in Bethlehem, Pa. At the funerals of all 2,617 Moravians buried here since 1742, trombone music accompanied a solemn procession of mourners carrying the dead to their final resting place.

'They were brought here on “death trays,” which are basically large cradles, as I learned on a tour called “Death and Dying in Early Bethlehem: Going Home” offered by the nonprofit organization Historic Bethlehem. It’s a 1¼-hour look at the funeral practices of the Moravians, Protestant settlers from the then-Habsburg-controlled lands of Moravia and Bohemia who settled the area in the 1700s, founding Bethlehem in 1741.

"The tour begins at the Moravian Museum, also known as the 1741 Gemeinhaus, in the town’s oldest building. In the upstairs meeting room, or Saal, where the Moravians worshiped, docent Madeline Morris instructed the men in our group to sit on one side, the women on the other, as the Moravians would have sat.

"In the Moravian community of the day, life was highly regimented. Single men and women lived in separate buildings. “You ate within, were educated within and worshiped within your choir,” said Morris, “choir” in this instance meaning group, not a musical organization.

"You could tell a woman’s age and status — single, married or widowed — by the color of ribbon on her Moravian cap. This was a cap “with a birdlike beak,” Morris told us, like the one she was wearing. She also wore a dress that was fastened down the front with straight pins, as would have been common in 1760. Women “also used hawthorn thorns,” Morris said, to hold their dresses together. I noticed that she never flexed her shoulders, so that the pins stayed in place, and wondered how many pin injuries Moravian women might have sustained.

"The museum contains a music room, because music was very important to the Moravians, who sang as they worked, Morris said. The first recorded use of trombones in America was in 1754 in Bethlehem. Trombones were the primary musical instrument used for celebrations — and a funeral was a celebration.

"Morris told us the story of an ailing woman who heard some anxious theological students practicing their trombones one day as she lay in her sickbed. “Those rascals,” the woman reportedly said. “I’m not dying.” And sure enough, she rallied to spite the students, who were removed from music duty.

"Some blue and white Delftware jugs in the first doctor’s apothecary at the museum still contain some drugs. The room also features a 1788 “kranken stube,” a cushiony easy chair for the sick that’s a contrast to the bare wooden benches mostly used back then.

"We headed outdoors for the rest of the tour. A death tray, on loan from the Central Moravian Church, lay sheltered in an archway near exposed log walls. Morris described the funeral ritual.

"A body, covered by a white cloth and placed on the death tray, would be taken to the corpse house, which no longer exists but once stood near the Old Chapel, the original building of the Central Moravian Church. There was no embalming. The body would perhaps be kept in the corpse house for a few days “if relatives had to come” from afar, Morris said.

"Moravians kept diaries, including their thoughts on death. Indeed, “they aspired to death,” Morris said. “You live for Christ here and long for the day when you meet your savior.” When someone died, his diary would be read at his grave.

"The tour wound uphill past the Old Chapel to the cemetery along the same route trod so many times in bygone years.

"God’s Acre, which is actually three acres, fronts on Market Street and is surrounded by church property on two sides. Flat grave markers hug the ground, all but one exactly alike, because Moravians believed that everybody is equal in death. Lives are reduced to a few lines. Rows and sections are segregated by sex and marital status, as in life.

"The cemetery tour, which stops at a dozen graves, is like a Who Was Who in Bethlehem. John Mueller’s tombstone reads No. 1 because he was the first person buried in the cemetery. To his left rests first-name-only Ben, an Indian who died in 1746. James Burnside, who wasn’t a farmer but became one because that’s what the community needed, died in 1755 of a massive stroke on his plantation, which is now a historic site.

"John Ettwein, administrator of Bethlehem during the American Revolution, “was noted for his principles,” Morris said. He thought that one baker’s pennycakes, a staple treat for children, “were a bit light” and weighed a few. They were. “He wrote a scathing letter to the baker,” who stopped cheating, Morris said.

"Morris showed us a picture of artist John Valentine Haidt, whose religious paintings were carried by Moravian missionaries in North America. Native Americans supposedly wept when they saw his painting of Jesus nailed to the cross, Morris said. She also showed us an illustration of Michael, a native American with red scars and tattoos over much of his body, who became a Christian and was buried in section A in 1758.

"I was moved by the stories in the women’s section. Susanna Louisa Partsch, who had an abusive stepfather, became a missionary and escaped a Delaware Indians massacre by jumping out of a window of a burning building and hiding in a hollow log. Mariana Hoecht, who was captured in 1755 and “given in marriage” to two successive Native Americans, eventually escaped and returned to Bethlehem, where she died at age 34.

"The largest tombstone, in the middle of a paved path, belongs to Juliana Nitschmann, a leader in the community who was known as the mother of Pennsylvania for her work among women.

"Morris pointed out the graves of children either stillborn or dead before they were named, marked with “Beatus” or “Beata,” meaning “blessed one...”

"But for what LoriAnn Wukitsch of Historic Bethlehem describes as “not a ghostly, howly tour,” but fact-based insight into the Moravians, there’s “Death and Dying.” I’d come to Bethlehem to bring the dead to life, and I wasn’t disappointed."


Women in Gardens at the 1805 Salem Girls School (later Salem College in North Carolina)


1805 Salem Girls School later Salem College.

Salem College began in 1766, when the Moravians, established the village of Salem. Among the town's early residents were 16 girls & women who walked more than 500 miles from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, to join the new community. Salem Girls School, later Salem College, was run by the unmarried women, the Single Sisters, of the Moravian community, who were economically self-sufficient, a rare condition for women of the 18th century. Moravian records show that Salem educated African American girls as early as 1785. The gardens at the Girls’ School in Salem, were described as “designed for literary repast, & evening amusement.”

1912 Photo of Tableau on the Lower Pleasure Grounds at Salem College.

In 1858, Principal Robert de Schweinitz (1818-1901) transformed the Lower Pleasure Grounds from a heavily-wooded ravine barrier between Salem Academy & Salem College into a beautifully landscaped garden, creating rose gardens & pavilions. An amazing photo of this area, where amusement & theater were still a serious components, from 1912 exists at the College.


Moravian General & Colonial History Bibliography


Moravian History – General

Atwood, Craig D., & Peter Vogt, editors.  The Distinctiveness of Moravian Culture: Essays & Documents in Moravian History in Honor of Vernon H. Nelson.  Nazareth: Moravian Historical Society, 2003.

Dreydoppel, Otto Jr.  Here We Stand:  The Moravian Church Among the Churches of the Reformation.  Bethlehem:  Provincial Women’s Board, 1999.

Sawyer, Edwin A.  These Fifteeen:  Pioneers of the Moravian Church.  Bethlehem & Winston-Salem:  Comenius Press, 1963.  Capsule biographies.

Schattschneider, Allen.   Through 500 Years & Beyond:  A Popular History of the Moravian Church.  Third edition, revised by Albert H. Frank.  Bethlehem:  Moravian Church in America, 2008.

Weinlick, John R., & Albert H. Frank.  The Moravian Church Through the Ages.  Third edition.  Bethlehem & Winston-Salem:  The Moravian Church in America, 2008.  A popular history.

Van Buijtenen, Mari, P., Cornelius Dekker, & Huib Leewenberg, editors.  Unitas Fratrum:  Herrnhuter Studien/Moravian Studies.  Utrecht:  Rijksarchief in Utrecht, 1975.  Essays treating Moravian life & history in different geographical areas, along with articles on Moravian theology, Moravian music, Moravian architecture, etc.  Roughly half of the pieces are in English & the other half in German.

Moravian History —The Renewed Moravian Church

Atwood, Craig D.  Community of the Cross: Moravian Piety in Colonial Bethlehem.  University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2004.

--------.  “The Mother of God’s People: The Adoration of the Holy Spirit in the Eighteenth-Century Brüdergemeine.”  Church History 68 (December 1999): 886-909.

Brown, Dale.  Understanding Pietism.  Revised edition. Nippanee, Indiana: Evangel Publishing House, 1996. Treats Moravianism in the context of the 18th-century Continental Pietist movement.

Crews, C. Daniel, & Richard W. Starbuck.  With Courage for the Future: The Story of the Moravian Church, Southern Province. Winston-Salem: Moravian Church, Southern Province, 2002.

Erbe, Hellmut.  Bethlehem, Pennsylvanien:  Eine Kommunistische Herrnhuter Kolonie des 18. Jahrhunderts.  Stuttgart:  Ausland und Heimat Verlagsaktiengesellschaft, 1929.  “Bethlehem, Pennsylvania:  A Communistic Herrnhut Colony of the the 18th Century”; available at Reeves Library of Moravian Theological Seminary in a typescript translation (1959).

Faull, Katherine.  Moravian Women's Memoirs: Their Related Lives, 1750-1820.  Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1997.  The memoir (Lebenslauf; spiritual autobiography) was an important part of Moravian devotion during the communal period. Faull uses the word related in two senses: “told” & “connected.”

Fogleman, Aaron Spencer.  Jesus is Female:  Moravians & Radical Religion in Early America.  Philadelphia:  University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007.

--------.  “Shadow Boxing in Georgia: The Beginnings of the Moravian-Lutheran Conflict in British North America.”  The Georgia Historical Quarterly.  83 (Winter 1999): 629-659.                   
Fries, Adelaide L., et al, editors.  Records of the Moravians in North Carolina.  11 volumes.  Raleigh:  North Carolina State Department of Archives & History, 1922-1969.  Excerpts & translations of materials from the Archives of the Moravian Church in America, Southern Province, covering the years 1752-1879.  A twelfth volume, edited by Daniel Crews & Lisa Bailey, appeared in 2000.

Gollin, Gillian Lindt.  Moravians in Two Worlds:  A Study of Changing Communities.  New York & London:  Columbia University Press, 1967.  A comparative historical & sociological study of Herrnhut, Saxony, & Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Hagen, Francis Florentine.  Old Landmarks Or, Faith & Practice of the Moravian Church, at the Time of Its Revival & Restoration, & Twenty Years After.  Bethlehem, Pennsylvania:  Hagen, 1886.  Excerpts from important primary documents in the early history of the Renewed Moravian Church.

Hahn, Hans-Christoph, & Hellmut Reichel.  Zinzendorf und die Herrnhuter Brüder: Quellen zur Geschichte der Brüder-Unität von 1722 bis 1760.  “Zinzendorf & the Moravian Brethren: Sources for the History of the Moravian Church, 1722-1760.”

Hamilton, J. Taylor, & Kenneth G. Hamilton.  History of the Moravian Church:  The Renewed Unitas Fratrum, 1722-1957. Bethlehem & Winston-Salem:  Interprovincial Board of Christian Education, Moravian Church in America, 1967.  The standard history of the modern Moravian Church.

Hamilton, Kenneth G.  John Ettwein & the Moravian Church During the Revolutionary Period.  Bethlehem:  Times Publishing Company, 1940.

Hamilton, Kenneth G., editor & translator.  The Bethlehem Diary, Volume 1:  1742-1744.  Bethlehem:  Archives of the Moravian Church, 1971.  An annotated translation of part of the communal diary of the early Moravians in North America.

Hamilton, Kenneth G., & Lothar Madeheim, translators.  The Bethlehem Diary, Volume 2: 1744-1745.  Vernon H. Nelson, Otto Dreydoppel, Jr., & Doris Rohland Yob, editors.  Bethlehem: Moravian Archives, 2001.

Krüger, Bernhard.  The Pear Tree Blossoms: the History of the Moravian Church in South Africa, 1737-1869.  Genadendal, South Africa, 1966.

Levering, J. Mortimer.  A History of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 1741-1892.  Bethlehem:  Times Publishing Company, 1903.  In extensive & copious footnotes, Levering translates many diary entries & other German-language source materials that otherwise are available only in manuscripts held in the Moravian Archives.

Mason.  J, C. S.  The Moravian Church & the Missionary Awakening in England, 1760-1800.  Rochester, New York:  Boydell & Brewer Inc., 2001.

Meyer, Dietrich.  Zinzendorf und die Herrnhuter Brüdergemeine, 1700-2000.  Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 2000.  “Zinzendorf & the Moravian Church, 1700-2000.”

Murtaugh, William.  Moravian Architecture & Town Planning:  Bethlehem, Pennsylvania & Other Eighteenth-Century American Settlements.  Chapel Hill:  University of North Carolina Press, 1967.

Peucker, Paul.  “The Songs of the Sifting:  Understanding the Role of Bridal Mysticism in Moravian Piety during the Late 1740s.”  Journal of Moravian History 3 (Fall 2007):  51-87.

Podmore, Colin.  The Moravian Church in England, 1728-1760.  Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1998.

--------.  “Zinzendorf & the English Moravians.”  Journal of Moravian History 3 (Fall 2007):  31-50.

Reichel, Levin Theodor.  The Early History of the Church of the United Brethren , (Unitas Fratrum) Commonly Called Moravians, in North America, A.D. 1734-1748.  Nazareth, Pennslvania:  Moravian Historical Society, 1888.

Sawyer, Edwin A.  The Religious Experience of the Colonial American Moravians.  Nazareth:  Moravian Historical Society, 1961.  An “answer” to Sessler (see below).

Schattschneider, David A.  “Moravianism as an American Denomination.”  Methodist History 24 (1986):  157-170.

Sensbach, Jon.  Rebecca’s Revival: Creating Black Christianity in the Atlantic World.  Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2005.

--------.  A Separate Canaan:  The Making of An Afro-American World in North Carolina, 1763-1840.  Chapel Hill, North Carolina:  University of North Carolina Press, 1998. Sensbach describes the situation of African Americans in the Moravian community of Salem, North Carolina.

Sessler, John Jacob.  Communal Pietism Among Early American Moravians.  New York:  H. Holt & Company, 1933.  Sessler provides translations of much 18th-century Moravian literature, especially the poetry & hymnody of the so-called “Sifting Time,” which he then uses to portray the Moravians as theologically unsound & socially eccentric.

Smaby, Beverly Prior.  The Transformation of Moravian Bethlehem:  From Communal Mission to Family Economy.  Philadelphia:  University of Pennsylvania Press, 1988.  A historical & demographic study.

Sommer, Elisabeth.  “A Different Kind   of Freedom?  Order & Discipline Among the Moravian Brethren in Germany & Salem, North Carolina, 1771-1801.”  Church History 63  (June 1994): 221-234.

--------.  Serving Two Masters: Moravian Brethren in Germany & North Carolina, 1727-1801.  Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky, 2000.

Stocker, Harry E.  A Home Mission History of the Moravian Church in the United States & Canada (Northern Province).  New York:  The Special Publications Committee of the Moravian Church, 1924.  The only comprehensive work on the expansion of the Moravian Church in North America.  Stocker based his history on primary sources, but unfortunately he did not employ footnotes or other scholarly apparatus.

Stoeffler, F. Ernest.  Continental Pietism & Early American Christianity.  Grand Rapids:  Eerdmans, 1976.

Surratt, Jerry L.  Gottlieb Schober of Salem: Discipleship & Ecumenical Vision in an Early Moravian Town.  Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 1983.

Thorp, Daniel B.  The Moravian Community in Colonial North Carolina:  Pluralism on the Southern Frontier.  Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1989.  A historical study of the interaction between the Moravians & their neighbors in colonial North Carolina.

Towlson, Clifford.  Moravian & Methodist:  Relationships & Influences in the Eighteenth Century.  London:  Epworth Press, 1957.

Vogt, Peter.  “‘Everywhere at Home’:  The Eighteenth-Century Moraivan Movement as a Transatlantic Religious Community.”  Journal of Moravian History 1 (Fall 2006):  7-29.    

Weinlick, John R.  “Colonial Moravians: Their Status Among the Churches.”  Pennsylvania History 26 (July 1959): 213-225.

Yates, W.  Ross.  Bethlehem of Pennsylvania:  The Golden Years.  Bethlehem:  Bicentennial Book Committee, 1976


Road Trip - Old Salem - Historic Moravian Settlement in North Carolina


Old Salem in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, is one of my favorite places.  It was settled by the Moravians in the mid-18th century. Here are some buildings in Old Salem.


First House 1766


Moravian Church



Single Brothers House 1769



Butner Hat Shop 1825 and Winkler Bakery 1800





Jacob Siewers House 1846



Manufactory at Miksch House





Market-Fire House Salem Square 1803






Miksch House and Shop 1771








Well at Salem Square










Single Brothers House 1769










Salem Square



Boys School


Door to Boys School





Market-Fire House Salem Square 1803


Traugott Leinbach House 1824



Shed


Veirling House






Rear of Salem Tavern


Sunrise in God's Acre, where everyone is equal.


The Moravian Holy Spirit as Mother


The Holy Spirit as Mother Dr. Craig D. Atwood of the Moravian Theological Seminary

"One of the least known & most intriguing parts of Zinzendorf’s theology is his use of the word "Mother" to describe the Holy Spirit. This was not just a passing fancy for Zinzendorf. In fact, for over twenty years, this was the primary way he referred to the Holy Spirit & towards the end of his life, his attachment to this type of devotion increased. In the 1750s, the Moravians sang several litanies about the Mother, & even had a special annual festival celebrating the "enthronement" of the Spirit as the Mother of the church.


1810 Stained Glass Window at York's PA First Moravian Church

"Zinzendorf’s approach to the motherhood of the Holy Spirit may relevance for contemporary discussion on the language we use when we speak of God. For Zinzendorf, the main issue was not whether a metaphor was sexist, it was whether the metaphor clearly, concretely, & persuasively communicated the nature of God. For him, it was better for the believer to call the Spirit "Mother" than anything else because that word communicates something essential about the way in which the Holy Spirit deals with the children of God. In his own life, he found that he had difficult experiencing the reality of the Holy Spirit until he came upon this metaphor.

"I could not speak about it [the Holy Spirit], since I did not know how I should define it. I simply believed that she is the third person of the Godhead, but I could not say how this was properly so. Instead I thought of her abstractly. ... The Holy Spirit had known me well, but I did not know her before the year 1738. That is why I carefully avoided entering in the matter until the Mother Office of the Holy Spirit had been so clearly opened up for me.

"According to Zinzendorf, the name which best communicates the reality of the Spirit’s relationship to Christians is simply "Mother" because those who know the Spirit know her as the Mother. Those who experience the Trinity in their hearts know that "a family must be complete. We must have a Father, Mother, & Husband."

"God [Christ] is even our dear husband, his Father is our dear Father, & the Holy Spirit is our dear Mother, with that we are finished, with that the family-idea, the oldest, the simplest, the most respectable, the most endearing idea among all human ideas, the true biblical idea, is established with us in the application of the holy Trinity, for no one is nearer to one than Father, Mother, & Husband.

This is language that even a child can comprehend. It is the best language to communicate spiritual reality for all people because it does not depend on abstract reasoning or speculation on unfathomable realities.

"Zinzendorf argued for the scriptural authority of the Mother Office by linking together the Old & New Testament verses Isaiah 66:13 & John 14:26:  "When the dear Savior at the end of his life wanted to comfort his disciples (at that time the language was not as rich as ours is); by that time the Savior, who was a very great bible student, had doubtlessly read the verse in the Bible "I will comfort you as a mother comforts one." Then the dear Savior thought, "If I should say to my disciples that I am going away, then I must give them some comfort. I must say to them that they will receive someone who will comfort them over my departure. It will not be strange to them, for they have already read it in the Bible. ...There it reads, they shall have a Mother: "I will leave you my Spirit."

"Zinzendorf acknowledges that theologians have generally rejected this linking of verses & the subsequent naming of the Holy Spirit "Mother," but he responds:Now no theologian is irritated if the word comfort is taken out of the passage & applied to the Holy Spirit, for they call her the Comforter. But if we take out the word Mother & signify it to the Holy Spirit, then people are opposed to it. I can find no cause for such bickering & arbitrariness, & therefore I pay no attention to it. For if the activity in a passage is proper to the Holy Spirit, then the title also goes to the Holy Spirit.

"Zinzendorf insists that the word "Mother" does not introduce a distinction of genders into the deity, such as Ann Lee or Mary Baker Eddy proposed, but deals only with the activity of God in the world. The Mother is not a goddess. Rather, the Holy Spirit acts in the role of mother to the church.

"Zinzendorf explicated his doctrine of the Holy Spirit, proclaiming that she is a mother in three distinct ways. First, it was the Spirit, not Mary, who was the true mother of Jesus, since she "prepared him in the womb, hovered over him, & finally brought him into the light. She [the Spirit] gave him [Jesus] certainly into the arms of his mother, but with invisible hands carried him more than his mother did." Second, the Spirit is the mother of all living things because she has a special role in the on-going creation of the world. "It is known that the Holy Spirit brings everything to life, & when the man was made from a clump of earth ... the Holy Spirit was very close through the breathing of the breath of God into the man." Thus, the Holy Spirit is the mother of all living souls in a general way.

"The Holy Spirit is also the Mother in a third & most important sense. She is the Mother of the church & all those who have been reborn. "The Holy Spirit is the only Mother of those souls who have been once born out of the side hole of Jesus, as the true womb of all blessed souls." Zinzendorf bases this understanding of the Spirit giving birth to converted souls in large part on Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus in John 3. Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be born again, not from his mother’s womb, but from God. Nicodemus knew that we are born from a mother, not a father, but he did not know who this mother was. Zinzendorf has Jesus reply, "There is another Mother, not the one who physically gave you birth, that one doesn’t matter: you must have another Mother who will give you birth." Ultimately, then, the Holy Spirit is the Mother of the Christian in the sense that she is the active agent in conversion. Human actors are only agents of the Holy Spirit, & in some cases are not even necessary for conversion.

"The first duty of the Spirit is to preach Christ, but her motherly work does not end there. The Mother also cares for her spiritual children just as a human mother cares for her physical children. She protects, guides, admonishes, & comforts the child of God throughout the changing years of earthly life. "The Mother does not rest until a child has lasting grace, until it finally sinks into the hands of the one Husband, the Friend of all souls, the Creator of all things, who is now the Bridegroom." The care of the Holy Spirit mainly takes the form of preserving Christians from sin. Believers enter the school of the Holy Spirit where they are taught what they should & should not do. Just as a human mother teaches her child proper behavior by saying, "My child, you must do it this way, [&] you must not do that," so too does the Holy Spirit."

"The Mother who is above all mothers [says], "I will comfort you; I will remind you; I will motivate you; I will define you; I will wean you from all rudeness & uncivil things. I will make a well-bred child out of you, better than any mother does in all the world."

"The language of motherhood expresses the intimate connection the Brüdergemeine felt with God through the Spirit. Each member of the Brüdergemeine is a child who "sits on the Mother’s lap, is received into the school, & is led through all classes; then it is under the special dispensation, under the motherly regimen of the Holy Spirit, who comforts, punishes, & kisses the heart, as a mother comforts, punishes, & kisses her own child."

"The heavenly Mother works individually since she knows the thoughts & weaknesses of her children & guides them in the path that is best for them. She directs their development in understanding & ability until their maturity & completion in death because "she has created the world with the Savior & now is [re-]making every child until it is a new creation, until it become one in the spirit with him, & she nurses & watches until it is grown."

"For Zinzendorf, the Christian community is modeled on the Holy Trinity, which is the original Gemeine & the original Kirche. This model was tarnished by Adam & Eve but has been restored by Jesus Christ & is marked by intimacy with one another & with God. All Christians are in the family of God. "Therefore nothing is better [than] to live in the family of our Husband, his Father, & our dear Mother." Children who grow up in this Gemeine of God should no more be able to doubt the reality of their membership than children who grow up in an earthly household can doubt that they were born into the family."


The Church's Prayer to the Holy Spirit (1759)

    1. Thou, who from the Father hast
    ‘Fore all Time proceeded,
    Spirit, by whom the Virgin Blest
    The Son here conceived!

    2. Since the Lamb of God, so red,
    Is his People’s Brother,
    And Christ’s God their Father’s made,
    Thou’rt the Church’s Mother.

    3. Of thy Name, O God, & Breath
    Grant us still the Nearness!
    That the Word of Jesu’s
    Shine to Souls with Clearness.

    4. Whom from Death-Sleep of the Fall
    Our dear Lord doth quicken,
    Fetch into thy Church-Ark all;
    Help their Abba speaking.

    5. As in greatest Things thy Will
    Meets with Execution:
    So in small shall it fulfil
    His Church-Constitution.

    6. Of the Righteousness of God
    Thro’ the Blood-Effusion,
    Of that daily Bread & Food
    Thou mak’st Distribution.

    7. MOTHER! all the Church’s Life
    Is the Father’s Kindness,
    Our Lord’s Patience with his Wife,
    And thy rich Forgiveness.

    8. We would fain not tempted be,
    With none thus distressed;
    Yet if one’s chastis’d by Thee,
    It to him be blessed.

    9. And till once the wicked Fiend
    Is at God’s Feet lying, (Ps. cx.1. Heb. ii.8.)
    Sleeps within thy Cradle screen’d
    The Church from his Trying.

    10. Amen, Ruach Elohim!
    Come in th’ Name of Jesus,
    Thy Children’s whole Sanhedrim

    Rule with Instinct gracious.


The Haube, a Simple Cap For 18th & Early 19C Pennsylvania Moravian Sisters


Unknown Artist, Moravian Single Sister, ca. 1810-1820. Moravian Historical Society, Nazareth, PA

The headcovering worn is this painting is a Schwestern Haube, a sister's cap. A Haube is a simple, close-fitting cap worn by Moravian women, sometimes referred to as a Schneppel Haube because of the pointed peak in the middle of the forehead. A smaller version is sometimes still worn by servers during lovefeasts.

Moravian women adoped a uniform style of dress in Herrnhut in the 1730s. The Haube was the headcovering of their neighbors in Berthesdorf. By the early 19th Century, most Moravian women considered the Haube unflattering; and in 1815, many adopted regular English-style bonnets. In Pennsylvania, the Lititz Moravian Church Museum and Archives has a collection of Haubes.



Moravian Women during the 18C Century

Moravian Women during the 18C Century 
by Beverly Prior Smaby



"A remarkable painting by Johann Valentin Haidt tells us a great deal about the roles of Moravian women during Zinzendorf's time. It depicts a session of the Moravian synod held at Herrnhut in 1750. In the center of the painting, men & women members of synod are gathered around a table, all major leaders in the Moravian Church, including the women. Countess Erdmuthe Dorothea von Zinzendorf, Zinzendorf's first wife, is shown at the table, for instance. After 1732 she shouldered the administration of Zinzendorf's financial affairs, which at that time were closely tied to the finances for the Moravian Church. Anna Nitschmann is shown on the left of the Countess. In 1730 she became the Chief Eldress for all women in the Church, & in 1746 she was named Mother of the entire Moravian Church. Anna Johanna Pietsch, to the left of Anna Nietschmann, became the General Eldress for all Single Sisters in 1747. Since eighteenth century European women did not generally hold positions of religious leadership, women leaders come as a surprise, but they were just one part of a well developed system of female leadership among Moravians. Women were members of councils at every level of Moravian society around the world, & in these governing bodies they participated actively in discussions & decisions. Women were also active spiritual leaders: they served as acolytes; they were ordained as deaconesses, eldresses, & for a brief moment, even as presbyters (ministers); as deaconesses & eldresses, they led worship & preached in services for their own choirs; a few Moravian woman ordained deaconesses & female presbyters, a function usually reserved for bishops, although women never officially assumed that office.

"It was Zinzendorf who made possible the culture in which women became so unusually prominent, but it is important to place his role in perspective. His views about society were in many ways typical of the eighteenth century. For Zinzendorf, human beings were not equal to each other except before the Savior, & the Moravian world he created made extensive use of hierarchy. The painting by Haidt makes this clear. Zinzendorf & the three people on either side of him sat in chairs with higher, wider backs than others at the table. Zinzendorf's was widest of all. And even though women were included at the table, it is clear that men maintained their dominance over women. Of the twenty-four people at the center table, only six were women, & Zinzendorf sat at the head of the table, his wife at his left - a symbol of his leading role in the Church & her position, important but subordinate to his. However, Zinzendorf went far enough in encouraging untraditional roles for women to cause substantial discomfort inside the Moravian Church & bitter criticism outside of it.

"Leadership roles for women did not result from a concern for gender equality. Rather, they were a byproduct of the separation of the sexes in Moravian settlements. In Zinzendorf's view, males & females of various ages had different religious needs. Beginning in the 1730s, Moravians formed "choirs" which divided their members into groups for Little Boys, Little Girls, Older Boys, Older Girls, Single Brothers, Single Sisters, Married Brothers, Married Sisters, Widowers, & Widows. Worship services for each of the choirs emphasized aspects of the Savior's life which best spoke to that choir. Children, for instance, learned about Jesus as a child. Single Brothers focused on Jesus as a single man. The Sisters' & Older Girls' Choirs emphasized Jesus as spiritual husband & Virgin Mary as the medium through which Christ became human. Experience showed that choir members were very effective at encouraging spiritual growth in each other, as Anna Nitschmann did in her 1730 covenant with Single Sisters in Herrnhut. It followed that leadership should also come from within each choir, even if their members were women.

"Another reason for female leadership was the intimacy required between ministers & believers for spiritual growth. To prevent any improper relationships from developing, Zinzendorf arranged that men should serve as spiritual leaders for men's choirs & women for women's. In mission settlements like Bethlehem, members of each choir lived & worked together in separate quarters, an organization that required some choir leaders to carry secular responsibility as well. These men & women served not only as spiritual & secular leaders within their own choirs, they also represented their choirs on local governing councils. The fact that children were raised in communal choir houses in these settlements meant that even Married Sisters had time to fill leadership roles.

"Although it was Zinzendorf who created the environment that supported female leadership, women in the Church embraced it enthusiastically. Women respected & loved their leaders, & the leaders themselves frequently showed how much they valued their opportunity to carry major responsibilities. Leaders of Single Sisters, for instance, were often reluctant to marry & give up their roles, & prominent Widows mourned not only the passing of their husbands, but the loss of leadership positions they had held with their husbands. Without Zinzendorf's support, women could not have held these positions, but neither could Zinzendorf have successfully implemented leadership by women without their enthusiastic participation.

"Beyond the offices they held, women served Moravian communities as models of how to be good Christians. Zinzendorf thought women were less likely than men to be "dry" or spiritually barren & more likely to feel joy & love in their relation to the Savior. In addition, the subordination required of women in society made it easier for them to be properly submissive to the Savior. By observing women, men could learn how to be submissive believers, too.

"Not all of Zinzendorf's opinions about women were positive. He was clearly ambivalent about the nature of women. Taking examples from the Old Testament & from his own experience, he found that women were likely to have the original sin of deceptiveness. Men, he thought, also had an original sin, namely lust, but men's was in his view less harmful than women's. Lust was so obviously sinful that it would encourage men to seek the help of the Savior, whereas women's deceptiveness might deceive even themselves into thinking they were good.

"Zinzendorf also thought that women were less likely than men to have the ability to govern well. However, this implied that some women could govern effectively, a radical thought for most Europeans in the eighteenth century. Zinzendorf was surrounded by women who amply demonstrated their administrative talent: Henriette Catharine von Gersdorf (his grandmother), Erdmuthe Dorothea von Zinzendorf (his first wife), and Anna Nitschmann (who worked closely with him as a church leader & became his second wife), to name just a few.

"Even though Zinzendorf's advocacy of women's leadership roles was based soley on religious necessity, it was apparently threatening to others. Outside the Moravian Church, critics published angry polemics against him. Inside the Church, his policies must also have been perceived as problematic. While Zinzendorf lived, there was little written evidence of criticism by Moravians, but with surprising speed after his death in 1760, the new Moravian leaders dismantled the leadership roles of women & the religious practice that helped support it. In the four General Synods held between 1764 & 1782, many changes were made to bring Moravian policies & doctrine into line with that of other Protestants. In the process, women's roles were redefined & greatly limited. Members of the 1764 synod prohibited women from holding any "general" offices with authority over the entire Moravian Church, as Anna Nitschmann had done. In the new directorship established by this synod, women were to be no more than "helpers & advisors." This same synod decided that women's choirs needed male oversight in secular matters. For that purpose, the office of Curator was established. After the synod of 1775, only Bishops could ordain deaconesses & women were even prohibited from assisting in ordinations. Any special religious emphasis for women was also suppressed. In 1783 church leaders scolded the Single Sisters for promoting the Incarnation in their services, saying that the essential point was the "Savior's blood & death" & that the Incarnation belonged to the sanctification of everyone, not just the Single Sisters.

"The fact that efforts to curtail female leadership & women's religious practice began so soon after Zinzendorf's death shows how much he had done to encourage both while he lived. Even his ambivalence towards women supported their leading roles. Because he agreed with the basic eighteenth century view that men must remain superior to women, his reasons why some Moravian women had to govern carried more weight. This same ambivalence meant that his successors could buttress their limitations of women's roles with some of Zinzendorf's own statements, but if Zinzendorf could have visited Moravian settlements thirty years after his death, no doubt he would have regretted the loss of female leadership. After all, he had not only created it, but consistently defended it during his lifetime."

Further Reading

Smaby, Beverly. "Female Piety Among Eighteenth Century Moravians." Pennsylvania History 64 (1997): 151-167.

Smaby, Beverly. "Forming the Single Sisters' Choir in Bethlehem." The Transactions of the Moravian Historical Society 28 (1994): 1-14.

Vogt, Peter. "A Voice for Themselves: Women as Participants in Congregational Discourse in the Eighteenth-Century Moravian Movement." In Women Preachers & Prophets through Two Millennia of Christianity, edited by Beverly Mayne Kienzle & Pamela J. Walker, 227-247. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998. (In print)

An excellent translated collection of Moravian women's autobiographical memoirs is published in:

Faull, Katharine. Moravian Women's Memoirs: Their Related Lives, 1750-1820. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1997. 


American Biography - Henrietta Benigna Justine Zinzendorf von Watteville (1725-1789) Moravian Educator


Henrietta Benigna Justine Zinzendorf von Watteville (1725-1789) Moravian educator, a key figure in the beginnings of Moravian Seminary & College for Women, Bethlehem, Pa., was born in Berthelsdorf, Saxony. She was the 1st daughter & 2nd of 12 children, of whom only 4 reached maturity, of Count Nicolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf by his wife, Countess Erdmuthe Dorothea von Reuss. Her father, founder of the Renewed Moravian Church, was of an old family of the Austrian nobility that had migrated to Germany. Her mother was of the nobility of Thuringia. Reared in the 18th-century Moravian Church, Benigna lived & achieved as a devout Pietist.


Henrietta Benigna Justine Zinzendorf von Watteville (1725-1789) with cittern

Her father’s banishment from Saxony, when she was 11, marked the beginning for her of a much-traveled life. With him she came to America for the first time in December 1741, for a stay of 14 months, chiefly in the newly established Moravian communities of Pennsylvania.

On May 4, 1742, at her father’s suggestion, the 16-year-old countess, with 2 assistants, opened a girls’ school in the Ashmead house in Germantown, Pennsylvania. Here 25 pupils were instructed in reading, writing, religion, & the household arts in what was probably the first boarding school for girls in the 13 British American colonies. Seven weeks later the school moved to Bethlehem; & in 1745, to nearby Nazareth, returning permanently in 1749, to Bethlehem, the center of the Moravian Church in America.


Moravian Young Ladie's Seminary and Church, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

On July 27, 1742, Count von Zinzendorf and his fellowship crossed the Blue Mountain into Cherry Valley, and on July 28 they finally emerged from the endless forests at Meniolágoméka -- "The Fat Land Among the Barren" -- present-day Kunkletown. Von Zinzendorf's 16-year-old daughter, Benigna, upon meeting the Indian children at the settlement, decided that the girls should have the opportunity to go to school just like white boys.

The same year she founded Moravian Seminary in Germantown, Pennsylvania. Shortly thereafter it was moved to Bell House in Bethlehem, and Lady Benigna invited all the Indian girls to come. Moravian Seminary was the first boarding school for girls in the New World, and over time it gained a superb reputation -- so much so that 50 years later, while he was President, George Washington personally petitioned for admission of his great-nieces. Eventually the school's charter was expanded, and it became Moravian College and Moravian Academy, both of which remain to this day.



In the summer of 1742, Benigna Zinzendorf interrupted her teaching to accompany her father on 2 of his 3 trips among the Indians of Pennsylvania & New York, preparatory to establishing missions among them. The Zinzendorfs returned to Europe the following winter.

In 1746 Benigna was married to Baron Johann von Waterville (de Watteville), a Moravian clergyman & her father’s secretary, in a ceremony performed by Zinzendorf at the new Moravian settlement in Zeist, Holland. Consecrated a bishop the following year, Watteville, aided by his capable wife, became out outstanding leader of his church.

The couple came to America on church business in September 1748 & remained a year. On this visit Benigna de Watteville had a hand in the return of the girls’ school to Bethlehem, its consideration with schools in the outlying Moravian congregations, & the enlargement of its curriculum.

Thirty-five years later, en route to America a 3rd time, she was shipwrecked with her husband on the rocks off the Leeward Islands in February 1784. Reaching Bethlehem in June, they remained for 3 years. Again Countess Benigna was on hand to help direct a reorganization of the girls’ seminary, which in 1785, now opened to pupils from outside the Moravian Church, became a largely new institution, known for many years as the Bethlehem Female Seminary.

The Moravian philosophy of education was the rearing of children in a controlled Christian environment under consecrated teachers. Because of the worldwide mission commitments of the Church, many parents were abroad, with their children left behind in the care of the home community. Moravian teachers, therefore, tried as nearly as possible to serve as substitute parents. Both as a parent & as a devout church member, Benigna de Watteville kept this ideal in mind.

She had four children of her own: Johann Ludwig (born 1752), Anna Dorothea Elizabeth (1754), Maria Justine (1762), & Johann Christian Frederick (1766). The older son died while a missionary in Tranquebar, India, in 1780, & the younger son died at nineteen as a student at Herrnhut, the church headquarters on his grandfather’s Berthelsdorf estate. The younger daughter, who never married, served as a worker in the church. The older daughter married Hans Christian Alexander von Schweinitz (later changed to de Schweinitz) in Bethlehem, Pa., in 1779. One of their children was the distinguished American botanist Louis David de Schweinitz, & de Schweinitz descendants have for four generations been prominent in American educational & professional life.

Benigna de Watteville died in the place of her birth at the age of sixty-three, a year after her husband. The Bethlehem seminary, incorporated in 1863 as the Moravian Seminary for Young Ladies, became in 1913, Moravian Seminary & College for Women & in 1953, a part of the coeducational Moravian College at Bethlehem.

This posting based, in part, on information from Notable American Women edited by Edward T James, Janet Wilson James, Paul S Boyer, The Belknap Press of Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 1971

Polish American Moravian Artist Johann Valentin Haidt 1700-1780


Johann Valentin Haidt, Christian Protten (1715-1769) ex slave Rebecca (1718-1780) w baby Anna Maria, Moravian Archives, Herrnhut, Germany.

Johann Valentin Haidt (Heydt) was born in Danzig (Gdańsk), Poland, on October 4, 1700. Haidt came from a long line of goldsmiths learning the trade from his father, Andreas Haidt, a jeweler & sculptor for Emperor Frederick I in the Prussian royal court. Between the ages of 10-13, Haidt studied drawing at the Royal Academy of Arts in Berlin, where his father was an instructor.

In 1713, Haidt's family relocated to the court at Dresden, after the death of Frederick I. At 16, Haidt moved to Prague by way of Ausburg, where his father's family still lived. By the age of 18, he was working as a journeyman goldsmith for his cousin in Venice. Next he traveled to Rome to work for 5 years; afterwhich he briefly worked for a cousin in Augsburg, before heading for England. Haidt settled in London; worked as a watchcase chaser; married the daughter of a Huguenot watchmaker, Catharina Compigny (1700-1782) in 1724; and raised a family of 5 with 2 daughters surviving to adulthood.

A traditional Lutheran, Haidt grew distainful of the growing secularism, rationalism, & deism in 18th century London. He was attracted to the more conservative & less ostentatious Moravian sect in 1838, and determined to join the religious community after participating in a lovefeast in London in 1740. He wrote of the moment he resolved to join, "After the lovefeast, when we kissed each other...I wept very loudly, and the Brethren with me...There was shame, amazement grief and joy, mixed together, in short, heaven on earth. Therefore I had no more question as to whether I should attach myself to the Brethren."

With his family, he journeyed to the Moravian community in Herrnhut, Germany, in 1740, where he began to paint both portraits & religious history works. Some earlier Moravian families fleeing persecution had found refuge there on a local nobleman's estate in 1722, & built the community of Herrnhut. In 1415, a Bohemian priest had been burned at the stake for challenging the Catholic Church. His followers, the Unitas Fratrum or United Bretheren, fled to Moravia & Poland; before settling in Herrnhut.

The Moravians of that area, known as the Herrenhutter for their settlement in that location, were thriving in Saxony, where the group's bishop, Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf und Pottendorf (1700-1760), ruled.

Haidt's motivation for devoting himself entirely to painting emerged, because the Moravian church was going through a period of internal crisis known as the Sichtungszeit or “Sifting Time” from about 1738-1753. Haidt, who was emotionally drawn to the anti-intellectual, earlier Moravian emphasis on the blood & wounds of Jesus, felt that the Moravians were straying from strongest impact of the gospel story.

Actually, few areas of early American Moravian colonial life were not colored by reference to Christ’s martyrdom. The Bethlehem Moravian community diarist frequently used wound imagery to make note of a good day. He noted in November of 1744, "Everything was very bloody and heart warming." And in April of 1748, he wrote "Our Morning Blessing was especially bloody and juicy."

Haidt wrote Zinzendorf asking to be allowed to paint rather than preach, saying,"For, I thought, if they will not preach the martyrdom of God anymore, l will paint it all the more vigorously."

Haidt moved back to London in 1752, to create religious history paintings for the new British Moravian headquarters, which Zinzedorf had purchased in Chelsea in 1750. Lindsey House was decorated with 38 religious paintings on its staircase alone.


John Valentine Haidt (1700-1780).  In London, a group associated with the Moravian Church.  The gentleman on the far right is Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf und Pottendorf (1700-1760).

In 1754, Haidt left England to become the assistant pastor of a church in Philadelphia, where he continued to paint & teach painting. By the fall of 1755, he was living in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, then the center of the Moravian church in this country. There his painting became part of the Moravian communal economic system.

Haidt's religious paintings were used as a vital part of church services, in order to make worshippers feel the presence of Christ with them, as well as see the pain of his suffering for them. He explained, One must utilize all of one's powers to portray the suffering body of the Savior as truly wretched, so that at the first sight everyone is moved to feel astounding pity."

In order to paint accurate historical compositions Haidt wrote, "it is primarily necessary to become correctly informed about the event and all its circumstances ...What sort of books should a painter read? The Bible, Homer, Virgil, Plutarch, Roman and Greek hissory, the Lives of Painters, the Antiquities of the Jews, Ovid."

Haidt felt that a painter's"company must consist of learned people, which can be very beneficial to him and make things easy for him. From them he can become informed about the antiquities of the heathen, how they clothed themselves from Caesar on down to the jailer who does the executions, how the priests clothed themselves for sacrifice, what sort of tools they used, and what was involved in their soothsaying and the interpretations of the sacrifices."

As an ordained deacon of the church, he began to preach at Bethlehem, while continuing to paint. In 1761, Hannah Callender visiting Bethlehem, "went to meeting" with "Sister Miller, Becky and Polly." The minister discoursed in English. His name was "Heyde" (Haidt) was also "their limner who executed all the paintings."

Part of his church assignment included traveling evangelism. He was charged with carrying the gospel to Native Americans, & his missionary work took him from New England to Maryland. Moravians established settlement congregations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland, which were considered frontier mission centers for the spreading the gospel to Native Americans.

It is likely that Haidt was sketching the countryside as he traveled. He wrote that a painter should, "always carry with him, wherever he goes, a small portfolio with paper and red chalk or good lead so that, when he comes upon something special, he can immediately sketch it, be it an unusual face or a landscape or a pretty garden house or a fountain, a special tree, a nice sheep, etc."

The church Oeconomy of communal living supported Haidt's artistic endeavors, providing him with supplies & a painting room (initially in the Horsefield House) from 1756 to 1774. As official church painter, he needed no commissions from congregations or the elite. He was the first colonial American painter who could concentrate on painting historical & religious subjects, while most other painters could only survive financially by painting portraits of local gentry. He called the welcoming community at Bethlehem his home, until his death in 1780.

As the church & the town's Gemeinmaler (chief painter), he also taught painting while producing his own portraits, religious paintings, & landscapes. While in Philadelphia from June, 1754 to September, 1755, Haidt taught Benjamin West (1738-1820). West told a friend that a "Mr. Hide (Haidt), a German," gave him instruction. West so longed to earn a living selling his history paintings, that he left the colonies for England, where he would become official history painter for George III & president of the British Royal Academy of Arts.

Haidt took his tutoring duties seriously and was intensley interested in young artists with natural God-given talent, but he warned that they must be surrounded with attentive moderation. "...if only he is directed correctly at the beginning so that his talent is not struck down or praised too highly. The former makes him give up everything and the latter can push him into a wild existence, so that his work, although somewhat brilliant, will however have in it little that is correct and still less that is solid."

Haidt recorded his ideas about painters and their proceeses in an early colonial American Treatise on the history of art written in the traditional Moravain German language. Portraitist John Smibert (1688-1751) arrived in the colonies before Haidt, and also had written a Notebook on art, primarily listing his paintings.

Haidt's 39-page manuscript offers detailed instructions on painting the human form, proportion, perspective, & painting basics. During Haidt's years in Italy as a young man, he seemed to value Greek sculpture above all. The art history section praises Italian Renaissance works. A contemporary transcription of Haidt's manuscript is preserved at the Moravian Archives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Although Benjamin West was influenced by Haidt's history & religious allegories, Haidt felt that portrait painting also was important in order to express the spirit within the person. He wrote in his treatise, "One applies all energy to the face, so that it predominates above all...Each figure must immediately depict why is has been drawn...A portrait is beautiful when it is an accurate likeness and when one can see the essence of the person's face and spirit. Therefore, painters who want to paint all faces happy and make the mouths smile make a mistake. The painter must look accurately at the person he wants to paint. If he gets the opportunity to know the subject well, it is a great help to him."

Many of Haidt's paintings chronicled the history of the Moravian church and were spread throughout the sect's churches in colonial America. His multi-figural allegories celebrate the accomplishments of Zinzendorf & the sect. In 1767, he wrote,"I hardly need to mention that I have painted, because almost all the congregations have some of my work, which the dear Savior has also let be a blessing to many a heart."

In 1774, when the Bethlehem community celebrated the Haidt's 50th wedding anniversary, one congregant wrote, and when the preacher's mouth will remain quiet, the painter's hand will still preach."

John Adams visited Bethlehem in 1777, noting John Valentive Haidt, the Painter who is still living in Bethlehem, but very old." Haidt would die in 1780.

18th Century Moravians

1747 John Valentine Haidt (1700-1780). Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf und Pottendorf (1700-1760) as the Teacher of the Peoples. Moravian Unity Archives, Herrnhut, Germany. Here Zinzendorf is receiving the light of God from the wounds of Jesus, as many converts from around the globe, including Native Americans, witness & benefit from his leadership.

In the mid 1700s, Count Zinzendorf had rejuvenated the Moravian Church dispatching "Sea Congregations" to the West Indies, North & South America, & South Africa. Moravians became the most active Protestant missionaries of the 18th-century.

1747 Johann Valentin Hadit (1700-1780). The original Erstlingsbild in Zeist, Netherlands. In March of 1747, Haidt began work on a painting that would become one his best known pieces, First Fruits or Erstlingsbild. This enormous painting depicts 21 people standing around the throne of Christ in heaven. These were the first Moravian converts from a variety of locations around the globe to have died & gone to heaven the “the first fruits” of Moravian missionary work.

1755-60 Johann Valentin Haidt (1700-1780). The painting of First Fruits now shows 25 baptized individuals who have died and gone to heaven from different ethnic backgrounds of people converted by Moravian missionaries. This painting is on display at the Moravian Archives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The Lord, seated on a cloud surrouned by angels, vividly displays wounds on his side, hands, & feet. Haidt painted several versions of this depiction of the 1st person converted and reaching heaven from each nation.

Colonial American Moravian communities existed in New York at the Moravian mission for Native Americans at Shekomeko in Dutchess County; in Pennsylvania at Bethlehem, Nazareth, Emmaus, & Litiz; and in North Carolina at Wachovia, Bethabara, Bethania, & old Salem. Bethlehem became the headquarters for the northern Moravian church, and old Salem emerged as the hub of the southern Moravian congregations. Some missionary work recruiting Native Americans was successful as far south as Georgia during Haidt's lifetime.

By the time of Zinzendorf's death in 1760, the Moravians had sent out 226 missionaries & baptized more than 3000 converts, only 38 years from the founding of the Herrnhut community & just 28 years since their first missionaries.

18th Century Moravian Women

Haidt's portraits of women seem to portray them as spiritual, happy, & content with their roles in Moravian community life under Zinzendorf's leadership.

The artist in Haidt did worry about the lack of color choices for his portraits of his plain-clothed congregation. "The clothes should be chosen by the painter according to the complexion of the person, as well as the background, but one will not find it easy to put this rule into practice in the congregation, so a good portrait can never or at least very seldom be painted" of fellow Moravians.

The women wore the traditional Mittel-European two-layer headdress or Haube. The only colorful aspect of their clothing were the ribbons they wore: red for young girls, pink for eligible maidens, blue for wives, and white for widows.

One Pennsylvania reader writes of the costumes, especially the tightly-fitted jackets, "Look at the lacing, the weasel waists, the odd little notch in the sleeve and the way the kerchief is arranged. 'Curiouser and curiouser,' said Alice, quite forgetting her grammar."

Miss Anna Nitschmann. Johann Valentin Haidt (1700-1780) Moravian Archives, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.


Anna Maria Lawatsch. Johann Valentin Haidt (1700-1780) Moravian Archives, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.


Miss Anna Rosina Anders. Johann Valentin Haidt (1700-1780) Moravian Archives, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.



Mrs. C. Theodora Neissen. Johann Valentin Haidt (1700-1780) Moravian Archives, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.


Widow Catharina Huber. Johann Valentin Haidt (1700-1780) Moravian Archives, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.


Mrs. Elizabeth Boehler. Johann Valentin Haidt (1700-1780) Moravian Archives, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.


Mrs. Gertraut Graff. Johann Valentin Haidt (1700-1780) Moravian Archives, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.


Johann and Susanna Nitschmann. Johann Valentin Haidt (1700-1780) Moravian Archives, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.


Young Moravian Girl. Johann Valentin Haidt (1700-1780) Moravian Archives, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.


Married Moravian Woman. Johann Valentin Haidt (1700-1780) Moravian Archives, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.


Married Moravian Woman. Johann Valentin Haidt (1700-1780) Moravian Archives, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.


Married Moravian Woman. Johann Valentin Haidt (1700-1780) Moravian Archives, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.


1754 John Valentine Haidt (1700-1780), Johannetta Maria Kymbel (1725-1789) Mrs John Ettwein. Moravian Historica Society, Nazareth, Pennsylvania.

Many of Haidt's American paintings recording this period, its religion, & its people are located at the Moravian Archives & College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; the Moravian Historical Society in Nazareth, Pennsylvania; the Moravian Congregation, Lititz, Pennsylvania, and at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Further Reading

To learn about the lives of 18th century Moravian women see:

Faull, Katharine. Moravian Women's Memoirs: Their Related Lives, 1750-1820. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1997.

Smaby, Beverly Prior. "Female Piety Among 18th-Century Moravians." Pennsylvania History 64 (1997): 151-167.

Wachovia Historical Society, Winston-Salem, North Carolina< Old Salem, Inc., Winston-Salem, North Carolina 1750 Johann Valentine Haidt (1700-1780). Women portrayed as separate but sharing power at the Moravian Synod at Herrnhut.</ "Forming the Single Sisters' Choir in Bethlehem." The Transactions of the Moravian Historical Society 28 (1994): 1-14

Sommer, Elisabeth W. Serving Two Masters: Moravian Brethren in Germany & North Carolina, 1727-1801. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2000.

Vogt, Peter. "A Voice for Themselves: Women as Participants in Congregational Discourse in the 18th-Century Moravian Movement." In Women Preachers and Prophets through Two Millennia of Christianity, edited by Beverly Mayne Kienzle and Pamela J. Walker, 227-247. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.