The Old German Baptist Brethren: Faith, Farming, and Change in the Virginia Blue Ridge (2006) combines oral history with ethnography and archival research–as well as his own family ties to the Franklin County community–to tell the story of the Brethren’s faith on the cusp of impending change. The book traces the transformation of their operations from frontier subsistence farms to cash-based enterprises, connecting this with the wider confluence of agriculture and faith in colonial America. Using extensive interviews, Thompson looks behind the scenes at how individuals interpret their own futures in farming, their hope for their faith, and how the failure of religiously motivated agriculture figures in the larger story of the American farmer.
Thompson’s book is a fascinating glimpse into the life of a religious community in America. His work will be of interest to oral historians, who will be pleased that his contextualization of each narrative includes narrative description of the activities, location, and even weather during his interview.”