Pennsylvania German Dialect

Pennsylvania German dialect, commonly known as “Pennsylvania Dutch,” is prevalent among Old Order Amish and Mennonite communities in Pennsylvania. Historically, however, it was spoken widely by Lutheran, Reformed and other groups of German immigrants and it is currently used in Old Order communities as far west as Wisconsin. Pennsylvania German dialect classes, taught by Keith “Butch” Reigart, typically run for ten weeks each spring and fall. Classes are held in the LMHS conference room. All are welcome.

About the Instructor

A native of York County, Pa., and fluent Pennsylvania Dutch speaker, Butch was employed for more than 35 years as a foreign language specialist for the U.S. government. Also fluent in German and Russian, Butch has a good understanding of the language learning process. Butch is respected by Old Order Amish and Mennonites, and is in frequent conversation with these Lancaster native speakers. He draws on this experience in his classes.

To Register

  • Click the “Add to Cart” button after any class above. Add an LMHS membership to receive a discount on each class. When you’re finished, click the “View Cart” button here. (Your payment will be processed by PayPal, but you don’t need a PayPal membership to register.)
  • Or give us a call. We accept credit card payments over the phone, Tuesday–Saturday, 8:30 AM–4:30 PM at (717) 393-9745.

Beginner Class (Spring)

Thursdays, March 10 through May 12, 7 to  9 p.m.


Intermediate Class (Spring)

Saturdays, March 12 through May 14, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.


Folk Art Classes

A Taste for Fraktur

January 16, 9 am to 12 pm, with Emily Smucker Beidler

Fraktur is a distinctly American folk art dating back to the mid-1700s and was an important part of Pennsylvania German culture. This class includes a presentation on fraktur, with particular emphasis on its role in Mennonite culture and demonstration of the use of the ink and watercolor. Students will spend time creating their own small fraktur piece. The class will focus on the imagery of fraktur, rather than calligraphy. A starter kit is included in the tuition fee.  No previous experience is required.

Registration due January 9

Pies in the Mennonite Tradition

New Date: March 12, 6:30 to 8:30 pm drop-in, with Valerie Baer

Come to the Mennonite Historical Society Saturday evening and enjoy a slice or two of a wide selection of traditional pies.  Pie bakers will be on hand to demonstrate the art. Learn more about life for Mennonite women of Lancaster County through special displays focusing on the early to mid-1900s.  Debuting at this annual event, will be a limited edition gift card set featuring photos of Mennonite women from the early-mid 1900s. During this evening event, all cookbooks will be 20% off.

Registration due March 5

$10 for Adults

Children under 12 free

Grain Painting

January 30, 9 am to 12 pm with Jim King

Learn how to add the rich look of wood to your next project with false graining techniques in this folk art class taught by  Jim King.

Registration due January 23

The Illuminated Letter

February 13, 9 am to 12 pm, with Emily Smucker Beidler

Fraktur II will focus on learning lettering and calligraphy within the context and history of fraktur. You will learn to use a nib pen and india ink. Beidler will also discuss modern adaptations of fraktur calligraphy. A materials kit is included.  There will also be pens and bottled ink for participants to use during the workshop.

Registration due February 6

Redware Sgraffito Plate

February 27, 9 am to 1 pm, with Denise Wilz

This workshop focuses on the sgraffito technique used by area 18th and 19th century Pennsylvania German potters to make artistic designs on their folk art pottery. Participants will draw and scratch a design of their choosing on a prepared redware plate. The participants have the option to sgraffito molded 7” or 10” redware plates coated with white clay slip; limit of 2 plates as time permits. All the sgraffito tools and books for ideas are provided or bring your own. After the workshop, the plates will be glazed, fired and returned to the workshop site for participants to pick up in 3-4 weeks or shipped to participants for an additional cost of $12.

Space available until Friday, February 26