Dorothy Trumpold

Anama rug weaver and cook
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Dorothy TrumpoldDorothy Trumpold of East Amana, Iowa, was born into the Amana Colonies over 90 years ago. She is a well-respected cook and community elder and is best known for her rug weaving, which she’s been doing for nearly 60 years and for which the National Endowment for the Arts awarded her a National Heritage Fellowship.

Dorothy is a wealth of information about communal life in the Amana Colonies; of special interest are her recollections about working in a communal kitchen.

The Amana Colonies, where Mrs. Trumpold has resided for her entire life, have a unique social and religious history. Settlers of these communities came originally from Germany and were members of the Community of True Inspiration, a Lutheran sect founded in 1714 and based on the belief that God may communicate through an inspired individual. This group moved first to Ebenezer, New York and then traveled to Iowa in 1855 where members established a communal lifestyle in seven villages located on 26,000 acres of farmland. Each village had its own tinsmith, cobbler, basket maker and furniture maker, while a calico printing factory and two woolen mills served the entire community. This communal way of life, often mistakenly confused with the Amish or Mennonites, existed until 1932, when the residents chose to relinquish their communal forms of property ownership in what is still called "the Great Change."

Married in 1933 at the age of 21, Dorothy Trumpold has vivid memories of the Change and its impact on her life. As a child, Dorothy grew up in East Amana speaking Amana German, which was also used in the Church of the True Inspiration. Even today, her speech carries a slight German accent. Two to three generations of a family would live together in one house, but everyone in a particular village would go to the local cooking house for meals. Dorothy worked in one of those houses from the ages of 14 to 19, preparing meals with other women and girls for the village. After her stint in the cooking house, she worked in the spinning department of the woolen mill and then in the store in East Amana. In 1938 her daughter was born, and soon after, her grandfather, one of the community rug weavers, became ill and Dorothy took over from him.

Despite what became a lifetime of rug weaving, Dorothy continued to cook for family and friends. Her homemade noodles and chicken soup are a particular treat, especially when serves in the cozy confines of her East Amana kitchen. Like others from Amana, Dorothy Trumpold was a featured artist in the Smithsonian’s 1996 Festival of American Folklife, the Sesquicentennial Festival of Iowa Folklife, and the 2001 Festival of Iowa Folklife.

Contact Information: Amana Arts Guild, www.jeonet.com/ag/, 319.622.3678