Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute Home

Utopian Communities: European Roots, American Realities

by
Peter N. Herndon


Contents of Curriculum Unit 87.02.06:

To Guide Entry


Introduction. This curriculum unit is designed for ninth-grade World History students; it is intended to take up ten to fifteen class periods. One goal of this project is to increase students’ awareness and interest in the practical idealism of men and women of the past.

From its inception, America has been pictured as the “promised land.” Any road map reveals the idealistic aspirations of the founders of such places as Jerusalem Corners, New York, or Promise City, Iowa. Freeway exits in the Golden State reveal places such as Elysian Valley and Arcadia. New Hope, Pennsylvania, and Eden, Virginia as well as our own New Haven, Connecticut reflect Columbus’ claim to have discovered a “new heaven” and a “new earth.” There is an image of paradise illustrated in Puritan sermons, early corporate towns and land speculators’ maps.

This project is about dedicated idealists who regarded the New World as a potential paradise, and who believed that this potential could best be realized through collective organization. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries several hundred groups planned and set up model communities in the United States. The approaches were as diverse as they were imaginative; the problems to overcome were immense. The standards for success varied with the experiment. Nathaniel Hawthorne, who lived at the Brook Farm community, provides one statement of purpose:

‘My best hope was, that, between theory and practice, a true and available mode of life might be struck out; and that, even should we ultimately fail, the months or years spent in the trial would not have been wasted, either as regarding passing enjoyment, or the experience which makes men wise.’ (Quoted in Hayden, p. 6)

Robert Owen had higher hopes:

‘I am come to this country to introduce an entire new system of society; to change it from an ignorant, selfish system to an enlightened social system which shall gradually unite all interests into one, and remove all causes for contest between individuals.’ (Quoted in Melville, p. 34)

Of all the nonsectarian groups, the Shakers proved to be the largest, longest-lasting and the most influential. The Shaker experiment won the attention of such diverse individuals as Henry George, Friedrich Engels, Count Leo Tolstoy and Alexis de Tocqueville. What were the factors for their longevity, when so many others died in infancy or early youth? Ann Lee, the often-persecuted founder of the Shakers, provided a clue with the motto she gave to the movement: “Hands to work, and hearts to God.” She claimed it was the good works of the Shaker people that would spread this movement, even more than its religious message, as important as the message was. Under capable leaders such as Joseph Meacham and Lucy Wright, the Society grew from 1787 to 1808 with eleven new Shaker settlements in New York and New England (see map below). Their organizational principles follow:

‘Orders, rules, and regulations, in temporal and spiritual things, were framed, appropriate to the new relations they were then coming into as a body of people. Elders and deacons of both sexes were appointed, and set in their proper order; and a Covenant was written and entered into for the mutual understanding and protection of the members.’ (Quoted in Morse, p. 61)

Though the Shaker movement itself declined and has all but disappeared, the Shaker heritage is being evaluated in light of contemporary values. The essential Shaker spirit was one of humble decency. One student of Shaker life expressed it this way:

‘I think there’s something in us that will always love them . . . To find a group of people who have been living righteousness for two hundred years instead of just talking about it is a rare and beautiful experience.’ (Quoted in Horgan, p. 189)

For the Shaker, an early hymn expresses the Shaker ideal of what genuine love was all about. The thoughts certainly challenge the mainstream of American values today as they did then:

‘Love not self, that must be hated,
Love not satin, love not sin;
To the flesh, tho’ you’re related,
Love not flesh, not fleshly kin.
Love not riches, honor, pleasure,
Love no earthly vain delight:
But the gospel’s hidden treasure,
You may love with all your might.’ (Quoted in Cook, p. 198)

to top


I. Unit Objectives

This unit of study contains certain basic concepts associated with the topic which students will be expected to define and use:

A. Core Concepts
Bible communism “law of love” (Perfectionists)
capitalism Millennial Church
celibacy “millennial kingdom”
collective ownership model community
commune “mutual criticism” (Perfect-
communism ionists)
communitarian nonsectarian
“complex marriage” Oneida Perfectionist
constitution Owenite
cooperative property ownership
environment, physical and social Puritan
family, nuclear and communal revival, religious
Fourierist sect
Harmonist Separatist
housing, private and public Shaker
idealism site plan
individualism “scientific socialism”
Industrial Revolution social reform
industrialization utopia
“utopian socialism”

B. Learning and Behavioral Objectives
Students will be challenged to carefully examine the writings of the utopian idealists of the nineteenth century and present arguments defending or attacking these ideas. This unit, if successful, will enable students to develop critical thinking skills which are often neglected in history classes. Utopian ideas, which are often quite contemporary and stimulating to students, should provide ample fuel for the fire of coherent and logical classroom debate. Students should not be able to complete this unit of study without having been exposed to methods which are intended to increase their abilities to analyze, think and write in a more careful and critical manner.

In addition to the above-mentioned critical thinking skills, the unit will challenge students in other ways. The student will be expected to learn certain basic concepts associated with this topic (see above “Core Concepts”). Students will be challenged to examine present value systems with the value systems of the past and to perceive underlying and immediate causes which challenged these value systems. Realistically, could a community be set up around principles that would be flexible and practical enough to last, coupled with committed leaders who could be trusted to carry out fairly the objectives of the community?

This unit is designed to expose students to certain primary source materials from which they will be expected to summarize the important principles and ideas of communal societies. Also, by viewing slides of community architecture, community living, community craftsmanship and artistic work, students will use observation skills to hypothesize about community life and lifestyle. Through role-plays, group work and debates, students should become more deeply immersed in utopian community life as far as they can in the time they have.

Students will keep lists of vocabulary words and concepts within their groups. Glossaries will be available for them to consult. Research will be encouraged independently. The teacher will hand out specific questions to answer based on group readings to help students accurately summarize the facts.

Maps will be handed out to each student, so that he or she can locate the communities under study.

The topic is intended to be inductive in nature, i.e., to raise historical questions and then allow students to examine historical documents to arrive at conclusions based on the information available to them. The topic lends itself to such innovative and creative methods as the teacher wishes to use. Appropriate methods of student involvement include debates (secular reformers and Christian separatists); role-plays (a “mutual criticism” session typical of an Oneida meeting); news reporter interviews of community members and hostile townspeople on audio or videotape; and small group activities (see above).

to top


II. Unit Summary and Strategies

In the introductory lessons for this unit (two to three days), students will study some of the ideas for utopian communities which began in Europe. The teacher will present some of the ideas of Sir Thomas More from his book, Utopia, and students will be encouraged to discuss his ideas. The same day, the class will compare More’s views with those of John Calvin, from his book, Geneva, in which he described his attempts to reform and reorganize his own city, Geneva, Switzerland, into a City of God. The purpose of the comparison is to provide stimulation for the first assignment: designing a plan for a “model community of the future,” which will include a map and several basic rules for the community to follow. The next day, students will be organized into groups to discuss their “model” assignments from the night before. The student groups will be expected, then, to arrive at a common plan, including a set of “Articles of Agreement” for their community. Questions to consider would include these:

1. What are the responsibilities of the leader(s)?
2. What are the responsibilities and privileges of the members?
3. How would legal disagreements be settled?
4. What are the qualifications for leadership?
5. What are the qualifications for membership?
6. What would the community grow, produce or manufacture in order to provide work for its members?
7. How would wealth be distributed?
After the students have completed their group assignment, a representative from each group will report their conclusions to the class. Summaries will be highlighted for points of agreement and contrast. Homework will consist of excerpts from each of three Community Covenants: New Harmony, Pennsylvania; Zoar, Ohio; and Oneida, New York. Students will be expected to select out principles and ideas that are both workable and unworkable. Discussion will follow in the next class period with the possible revision of group Articles composed the previous day. Students should note that two basic philosophies are present in the selections from homework; i.e., one which promoted Christian fellowship and separation from the world (New Harmony and Zoar) and the other which advocated a purely socialistic economic venture (Oneida).

The next two days will be devoted to examine two reform-minded men, the British industrialist Robert Owen and the French socialist Charles Fourier. Owen came to the United States in 1824 and gained his personal wealth by successful management of several mills in Scotland and England. His theory, put into practice in places like New Lanark, Scotland, was that village problems had to be solved as collective, rather than individual faults. Signs of crime or unproductiveness meant that the village institutions had to be adjusted; Owen became an advocate of preventative and educational reform rather than punitive control. He wrote extensively in the early nineteenth century and promoted immediate social reform through the establishment of many small-scale communal experiments. Then, in 1824, he came to America and bought the village which the Rappites owned in southern Indiana and renamed it New Harmony, where he attempted to put his theory into practice. His sights were high as he began this work:

. . . with these Great Truths before us, with the practice of the social system, as soon as it shall be well understood among us, our principles will, I trust, spread from Community to Community, from State to State, from Continent to Continent, until this system and these truths shall overshadow the whole earth, shedding fragrance and abundance, intelligence and happiness, upon all the sons of men.

Fourier, son of wealthy French parents, prophesied many of the things Owenites did in the communitarian movement. His ideas were translated into English by his disciple, Albert Brisbane, and published in America in 1840, sparking an immediate American response even greater than Owen’s two decades earlier.

A sampling of Brisbane’s writings on Fourier’s philosophy follows:

The world does not want an equal division of the present scanty amount of wealth, it wants an immense increase of production, and then an equal division of the same, according to, as each has aided in creating it . . . Genius must now set itself to raise the social condition of man, and to redress the disorders of the planet he inhabits . . . Society, concern, cooperation, is the secret of the coming Paradise.

The worker, under the Fourier model, would be working in “Groups and Series,” or short hours in a variety of tasks, rather than monotonous repetition. Instead of being a “cog in a vast machine,” the worker would enjoy diversity and friendly rivalry with other groups of workers. A “Unitary Building” would house all members under one roof and household tasks would be a joint effort resulting in reduction in hours spent in menial tasks. Architecturally, Fourier planned the phalanstery building so that each family would find an apartment to suit budget and taste. The motto was “Unity and Harmony.”

Students will compare and contrast the ideas of these two men, Owen and Fourier, both of whom disdained large cities. Both shared the common belief that a person’s character is not shaped by him but for him. Through carefully planned communities, therefore, man would become a more perfect creature. Both embraced technology as an essential aspect, which was different from most of the religious experiments already in progress. These men believed in the dignity of work, in joint ownership and equal reward, a moderation of earning and spending and working—all in order to “permit a more wholesome and simple life,” to encourage the simple pleasures of personal relationships.

Before examining the major religious communities of the period, students will spend a class period examining the influential ideas of a third strong leader among communitarian groups, John Humphrey Noyes, founder of “Bible Communism” or “Perfectionism.” His group studied the Bible as well as other communitarian publications including the Fourierist journal, The Harbinger. Noyes believed that individual human failings could be eliminated in time by applying collective insight of the community. Perfectionists were expected regularly to appear before a committee of older members who evaluated their personal strengths and weaknesses. This “mutual criticism” was described by Noyes this way:

‘Sometimes persons are criticized by the entire group; at other times by a committee of six, eight, twelve or more, selected by themselves from among these best acquainted with them, and best able to do justice to their character . . . It is an ordeal that reveals insincerity and selfishness; but it also often takes the form of commendation, and reveals hidden virtues as well as secret faults.’ (Quoted in Melville, p. 47)

In order to better discuss Noyes’ ideas, students will be given a brief assignment the night before which outlines the Perfectionists positions on joint ownership of property and equal distribution of goods. Another unique idea of the group was their belief in “complex marriage,” where all members were united in group marriage, a practice which caused their Vermont neighbors to run them out of Putney in 1848. Group decision-making was an important part of the community, but Noyes personally exercised unchallenged authority to appoint leaders and veto any decisions unacceptable to the “law of love.”

The class period will include a role-play where selected students will participate in a mock “mutual criticism” evaluation of a Perfectionist community member. Also, students will consider the leadership qualities necessary to a successful community, in light of qualities of Noyes, Fourier and Owen. A quotation by Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune, and a Fourierist supporter will be considered:

‘They (Fourierist leaders) may have failed again and again . . . yet they are sure to jump into any new movement as if they had been born expressly to superintend and direct it, though they are morally certain to ruin whatever they lay their hands on. Destitute of means, of practical ability of prudence, tact and common sense, they have such a wealth of assurance and self confidence that they clutch the responsible positions which the capable and worthy modestly shrink from . . . Many an experiment is thus wrecked, when engineered by its best members, it might have succeeded.’ (Quoted in Hinds p. 163)

Before examining the religious communes of the period, which proved to be the longest-lasting, students should consider three quotations by contemporaries of the period under study:

“Now if we can, with a knowledge of true architectural principles, build one house rightly, conveniently and elegantly, we can, by taking it for a model and building others like it, make a perfect and beautiful city: in the same manner, if we can, with a knowledge of true social principles, organize one township rightly, we can, by organizing others like it, and by spreading and rendering them universal, establish a true Social and Political order.” (Hayden, p. 8)

“A commune, to exist harmoniously, must be composed of persons who are of one mind upon some question, which to them shall appear to important as to take the place of religion . . . ”

“A serious obstacle to the success of any socialistic experiment must always be confronted. I allude to the kind of persons who are naturally attracted to it. Along with many noble and lofty souls, . . . there throng scores of whom the world is quite worthy—the conceited, played-out, the idle and the good-for-nothing generally; who, finding themselves utterly out of place in the world as it is, rashly conclude that they are exactly fitted for the world as it ought to be.” (Melville, p. 50)

Can we predict the possible downfall of the Owenite, Fourierite and Perfectionist societies? Students will be asked to voice possible obstacles to building an ideal community that will stand the test of time. What are the ingredients to success? Can religion provide the cement that will hold these ideals together in a way that all participants can enjoy life together in a true unity and harmony?

Communitarian thinking was most popular in the United States between 1820 and 1850, with widespread popularity of such causes as abolition, labor rights, women’s rights, and educational and penal reform. The ideal communities in America expressed widespread nonviolent dissent from warfare and economic exploitation, or open advocacy of positive social reorganization and the development of new institutions. Reformers could present these social experiments as:

. . . ‘garden,’ in terms of horticultural and agricultural productivity . . . . It could be presented as ‘machine,’ in terms of its efficient design and industrial productivity . . . . Or it could be presented as ‘model home,’ in terms of its design and life style. (Hayden, p. 14)

Students will spend the next two to three days examining the unique history of the Shaker movement, which began in 1774, with the arrival of “Mother” Ann Lee from England. The first Shaker settlement was established two years later, south of Albany, New York. A religious revival broke out in the area in 1780, which attracted many new converts to the Shaker sect; converts who would form the nucleus of communal societies. Mother Ann preached, as many others did, that the Second Coming of Christ was imminent, and believers had better prepare themselves for the Day of Judgment. What made the Shakers unique was the belief that the thousand-year reign of Christ, predicted by John the Evangelist, had already begun. She described the Millennium as a slow, progressive redemption of the world effected by members of the Millennial Church (the Shakers). Mother Ann urged followers to “Do your work as if you had a thousand years to live and as if you were to die tomorrow.” That the ushering in of a New Age should be heralded by a woman was not a great problem for Mother Ann’s followers. One said:

‘There are few in this day, who will pretend to deny the agency of the first woman in leading mankind into sin. Why should it be thought incredible that the agency of a woman should necessarily be first in leading the human race out of sin?’ (Quoted in Horgan, p. 17)

The doctrine of celibacy put forth by the Shakers implied that the wrongs of the world could all be laid at the doorstep of lustful carnality. “You must forsake the marriage of the flesh, or you cannot be married to the Lamb, nor have any share in the resurrection of Christ.” (Quoted in Andrews, p.20) There was, however, tolerance for those who could not bear the “full cross” of a celibate life and who chose to remain married. Mother Ann was quoted as saying that Shakers do not forbid marriage to all Christians:

‘All that cannot or will not take up their cross for the Kingdom of Christ’s sake, and that only, I would advise them to marry and live after the flesh in a lawful manner, and be servants to their families—for that is natural, and less sinful in the sight of God than any other way of gratifying that nature.’ (Quoted in Horgan, p. 19)

The Shakers and Mother Ann were persecuted wherever they went, and in 1780, Mother Ann was imprisoned on a charge of treason. She was kept in jail for six months, and was finally released after followers convinced George Clinton, the New York state Governor, of her innocence. Following her release from incarceration, Mother Ann’s fame spread. For the next two and one-half years, Mother Ann and other Shaker leaders travelled throughout New England, planting the seed for the New England communities which the Shakers would organize in the next decade.

Between 1781 and 1826, the Shakers founded twenty-five settlements from Maine to the Ohio frontier. The existence of over two dozen Shaker communities was cited as evidence that it was possible to construct a model community and then to duplicate it elsewhere. John Humphrey Noyes, leader of the Oneida Perfectionists, said of the Shakers that they have demonstrated the success of communitarian societies to the extent that other communal groups were more indebted to the Shakers than to “any or all other social architects of modern times.”

The Shakers became famous for their building skills, and therefore, during the study of Shakerism, students will study not only Shaker architecture and design, but also the design of other community experiments of the nineteenth century. Students will see slides of many of the buildings they will see when they take a field trip to the Shaker Village and Museum in Hancock, Massachusetts. For the Shaker, the relationship between physical building and spiritual building was very close, since each Shaker member was pictured as part of the heavenly temple on earth. An early Shaker hymn illustrates this relationship:

Leap and shout, ye living building
Christ is in his glory come
Cast your eyes on Mother’s children
See what glory fills the room:
There was a sense in which the personal spiritual growth of the individual was identified with the external physical growth of the community. A “Hymn of Love” celebrates this union:

Love the inward, new creation
Love the glory that it brings;
Love to lay a good foundation,
in the line of outward things.
The “living building” of the first hymn had become a living and loving building process.

The Shakers were a group apart. They were a self-sufficient group, culturally and physically independent from and with little concern for the “world of anti-Christ.” Mother Ann was one of the first advocates of equal rights for women in America, and all the Shaker sisters shared work and profits equally with the men of the sect. The Shakers anticipated the temperance and anti-tobacco movements in American life by years. Neither were the Shakers interested in war, voting or in temporal government, nor did they seek to adopt the cultural and economic benefits of a growing industrial country. They firmly held onto their rituals, doctrines and agricultural way of life. One of their most popular songs concludes with this no-nonsense summation of the Shaker lifestyle:

It’s the Gift to be simple
The Gift to be free,
The Gift to come down
Where the Gift ought to be . . .
Perhaps Ann Lee summarized the Shaker desire better than anyone when she said, “This gospel will go to the end of the world, and it will not be propagated so much by preaching, as by the good works of the people.” This, then, is the Shaker legacy.

In the final two days of the unit, students will engage in group work, inquiring into the rise and fall of other nineteenth-century communities and will be asked to report back to their classmates on their findings. They will be expected to investigate such aspects as leadership, organizing principles, achievements, unusual or unique beliefs and practices, and reasons for decline. Students will be given a list of quotations by various persons who have evaluated the different communitarian experiments and what they revealed about the people who made up these colonies and the nation at large. Why did some last only a few months and others, like the Shakers, remain intact for over a century? Why are there few such communities in existence today?

Hopefully, there will be time for and interest in discussing the beliefs and practices of the Mennonite (Amish) communities which exist today in parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana.

to top


III. Sample Lesson Plans

A. Lesson One “Planning a Utopia”

ObjectivesAfter completing the Lesson, students should be able

1. To design a map with a key, scale of miles and direction;
2. To discuss reasons for selecting the site location and describe why it is ideal for their purposes.

Lesson Procedures

1. Distribute a map of Thomas More’s “Utopia” to the students and discuss its topography and physical features. How are the “essentials” of life provided for?
2. Discuss the short reading from More’s book. How does More define “utopia”? Discuss where there is agreement and disagreement among students. List on the chalkboard students’ ideas for a modern utopian community: What “things” would they include? What freedoms and liberties would be enjoyed?
3. End the class with instructions for the homework assignment: design a map (begun in class) which will include all the essentials that will make utopia possible. Using More’s map (as a guide) explain:
landforms    man-made     building
natural resources     title
scale of miles     key
political boundaries     direction
4. Explain that students will be expected to bring completed maps to class the next day and discuss with their classmates rules to organize their Model Communities.
5. This Lesson will prepare students to understand the workings of American communities established in the eighteenth century and how some of them were organized.

B. Lesson Two “Advantages and Requirements of a Community”

Objectives  After completing the Lesson students should be able

1. To list several objectives of communitarian societies;
2. To list several advantages of these societies;
3. To list several requirements of a lasting society.

Lesson Procedures

1. Lead a general discussion on the subject: “How easy or difficult would it be to organize a communitarian society?” List student ideas on the chalkboard and highlight what they believe to be advantages and disadvantages to this system; what ideas (if any) would have to be common to all; would leaders be necessary, and if so what qualities would they possess?
2. Hand out a list of quotations (below) that address the issues of Communal Life and discuss with students.
3. Conclude with having students write down two or three requirements of a communitarian society that would be a lasting one, and a paragraph defending their views.

Reading Samples: (Lesson Two)

(A) Goals of Communitarian Societies:

1. “We aim to improve the present social and economic condition.”
2. “We believe that this way of life will build character in men and women.”
3. “We wish to promote love and unity. The conditions of a happy home are the ingredients of a harmonious community.”

(B) Essential ingredients to a Communitarian Society:

1. “All must work together and hold all wealth in common.”
2. “A community needs the power of important principles that all members agree on in order to remain strong.”
3. “Selfishness must disappear; rules must be enforced to see that the rights of all are protected.”

(C) Leadership in the Communitarian Society:

1. “Leaders must be honest, fairminded and generally respected by all.”
2. “The man who would lead is the man who would serve the community and the needs of others as his first order of business.”
3. “The best leaders are those who are not commanders but instructors. Those that are interested in the truth—the truth of character which promotes kindness, love, purity and righteousness.”

(D) Advantages of the Communitarian Society:

1. “All can live much more inexpensively.”
2. “All can live happier, simpler life.”
3. “All can share in the pleasures and benefits of moral and spiritual instruction.”

C. Lesson Three: “Mock Trial: Ann Lee vs. the State of New York” (1780)

Objectives  After completing the Lesson, students should be able

1. To summarize two reasons why the State arrested Ann Lee and her followers in 1780;
2. To empathize to a certain extent with the different sides in this debate (Church and State);
3. To become more familiar with civil courtroom proceedings.

Lesson Procedures

1. Teacher hands out a “Fact Sheet” to students, which includes necessary background information of events leading up to Ann Lee’s arrest (previous night’s homework).
2. Teacher divides up the class into three groups. One group is the “Shakers,” another is the “Prosecutors,” and a third is the “Jury Members.”
3. Teacher hand out separate “Role Sheets” to each group. Each “Role Sheet” has information necessary to perform in the Mock Trial accurately. (The Jury Members get their own instructions plus the other two sheets).
4. After giving each group time to plan their strategy and to ask questions, the “Prosecutors” are asked to give their testimony before the court, which is run by the “Jury Members” (with one Jury Member acting as Judge). The “Shakers” then give their testimony before the court.
5. After all testimony has been given, students are expected to write an evaluation of the trial. Were you happy with the results? (The New York governor pardoned the Shakers). What were the real issues in this trial? Are similar issues still being dealt with in courts today (freedom of assembly, speech and religion).

Sample Role Sheet: “The Shakers”

Instructions  Your group represents the ideas of Ann Lee and the Shaker Community. Study the quotations below so that you will be able to answer questions about your beliefs from the other two groups, the “Prosecutors” and the “Jury Members.” You may also use class notes and assignments to help make your case stronger.

Issue 1: Shaker beliefs about Ann Lee:

____a. “Christ has revealed Himself personally to Ann Lee. Shakers believe that a Second Revelation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been made through this woman.”
____b. “We do not follow an evil woman or a prostitute . . . Can an evil tree bring forth good fruit?”
____c. “A poor, illiterate, uneducated factory woman has confounded the wisdom of all men—reformers, legislators and scholars, who have come to nothing as promoters of human happiness.”

Issue 2: Shaker beliefs and practices:

____a. “We believe as Shakers that we who live by the teachings of Christ and live peacefully with one another, do more service to our country than we could possibly do by bearing arms and declaring war.”
____b. “We dance and sing praise to the Lord:
________Come old and young, come great and small,
________Here’s love and union free for all;
________And every one that will obey,
________Have now a right to dance and play;
________For dancing is a sweet employ,
________It fills the souls with heavenly joy,
________It makes our love and union flow,
________While round, and round, and round we go.”
____c. “We are not called to be like the world; but to excel them in order, union and peace, and in good works— works that are truly virtuous and useful to man, in this 1ife.”

Issue 3: Shaker rules:

____a. “The gospel of Christ’s second appearing strictly forbids all private union between the two sexes.”
____b. “It is expected that any Shaker who feels conviction of any thing from their conscience to go to your Elders to confess it so that you will not grow hardened and finally fall from the way of God.”
____c. “Anyone temporarily leaving the Shaker community may do so only with the permission of the Elders.”

to top


Bibliography

Andrews, Edward D., The Gift to be Simple. New York: J.J. Augustin, Publishers, 1940.

Useful history of Shaker music which accompanied the Great Revival of the 1830’s. Includes diagrams of Shaker dancesteps.

The People Called Shakers, A Search for the Perfect Society. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1963.

Excellent notes with full bibliography for each chapter; forty pages of Shaker Millenial Laws, duties and ordinances.

Bestor, Arthur E., Backwoods Utopias, The Sectarian and Owenite Phases of Communitarian Socialism in America, 1663-1829. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1950.

Valuable descriptions with an extensive bibliographical essay.

Cooke, Harold E., Shaker Music: A Manifestation of American Folk Culture. Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 1973.

Chapter one gives an excellent summary of the Shaker’s history.

Hayden, Delores, Seven American Utopias. The Architecture of Communitarian Socialism, 1790-1975. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The M.I.T. Press, 1976.

Chapters on Owenites, Fourierists, Oneida and New Harmonists are particularly enlightening. Valuable maps, diagrams, photographs and illustrations.

Hinds, William A., American Communities (1878). New York: Corinth Books, 1961.

The best primary source available on American utopian communities of the nineteenth century. Appendices include covenant agreements for four communitarian societies.

Horgan, Edward R., The Shaker Holy Land. Harvard, Massachusetts: The Harvard Common Press, 1982.

Well-documented; includes a guide to Shaker Museums with maps and rare photographs.

Knoedler, Christiana F., The Harmony Society: A 19th Century American Utopia. New York: Vantage Press.

A study in idealism and the failure of one-man leadership in the wake of greed and self-fulfillment.

More, Thomas, Utopia, Edward Surtz, ed. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1964.

Useful woodcut map from the 1518 edition.

Morse, Flo, The Shakers and the World’s People. New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1980.

Well-illustrated with an especially valuable bibliography. Filled with insightful first-person observations on Shaker life from within and without the movement.

Nordhoff, Charles, The Communistic Societies of the United States (1875). New York: Schoken Books, 1965.

Useful for a general overview from a contemporary observer.

Noyes, John Humphrey, History of American Socialisms (1870). New York: Hillary House, 1961.

Helpful in gaining overall perspective of utopian community experiments.

Pollard, Sidney and John Salt, eds., Robert Owen, Prophet of the Poor. London: The Macmillan Press, Ltd., 1971.

Collection of essays which attempt to evaluate the attempts of one man to unite a diverse group of individuals into a coherent purposeful community.

Reiner, Thomas A., The Place of the Ideal Community in Urban Planning. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1963. Interesting collection of drawings and plans for various utopian schemes both within rural and urban settings.

Whitworth, John McKelvie, God’s Blueprints: A Sociological Study of Three Utopian Sects: The Oneidans, the Shakers and the Bruderhof. London: The Macmillan Press, Ltd., 1974.

Appealing attempt to describe the impact of religious faith and its effects on three communal organizations from past to present.

to top

Contents of 1987 Volume II | Directory of Volumes | Index | Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute

© 2014 by the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute
Terms of Use Contact YNHTI