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Oneida Community

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Oneida Community between 1865 and 1875
The Oneida Community between 1865 and 1875
John Humphrey Noyes (1811-1886) led the community
John Humphrey Noyes (1811-1886) led the community

The Oneida Community was a perfectionist religious communal society founded by John Humphrey Noyes in 1848 in Oneida, New York. The community believed that Jesus had already returned in AD 70, making it possible for them to bring about Jesus's millennial kingdom themselves, and be free of sin and perfect in this world, not just in Heaven (a belief called perfectionism). The Oneida Community practiced communalism (in the sense of communal property and possessions), complex marriage, male sexual continence, and mutual criticism. There were smaller Noyesian communities in Wallingford, Connecticut; Newark, New Jersey; Putney and Cambridge, Vermont.[1] The community's original 87 members grew to 172 by February 1850, 208 by 1852, and 306 by 1878. The branches were closed in 1854 except for the Wallingford branch, which operated until devastated by a tornado in 1878. The Oneida Community dissolved in 1881, and eventually became the silverware company Oneida Limited.[2]

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  • ✪ The Cult That Made Your Grandmother's Fine Silverware
  • ✪ 19th Century Utopism: The Oneida Community
  • ✪ SOCIETY & CULTURE - Cults - E36: Oneida Community - John Humphrey Noyes
  • ✪ Inside the Childrens House: Searching for Children in the Oneida Community - Matthew Prickett
  • ✪ Common Read “The Oneida Community A Failed Utopia’s Lesson for Today” Part 1


For many Americans in the 20th century, holiday meals meant getting out the special Oneida Silverware. Stainless steel, ornamental and moderately expensive, it wasn’t a fancy dinner unless there was a Silverplate Oneida spoon on the table. Despite its traditional look, the history of Oneida Silverware is anything but. The company was originally founded by a 19th century upstate New York religious community who believed in communist ideals (while simultaneously exploiting capitalism for their own benefit), women’s and workers’ rights, parents not being overly fond of their own children, and polyamorous relationships. Here now is the story behind the forks, spoons and knives that grandma puts on the table every Thanksgiving. John Humphrey Noyes was born to a financially comfortable family from Vermont in 1811. His father, John Noyes, was a United States Congressmen and uncle to future US President Rutherford B. Hayes. Noyes’ mother was an ardently religious woman who often forced her views onto her children. As a teen, Noyes was hormonal like any boy his age, but painfully shy around the opposite sex, convinced his red hair and freckles made him ugly. By 1831, at 20 years old, he had enough of his mother’s persistent badgering. So, in the fall of that year, he attended a tent revival service by famed preacher Charles Finney. Thanks to that event, he was converted- one of thousands that were overtaken by the “Second Great Awakening” during the early 19th century. Now determined to be a preacher, Noyes took off for Yale Divinity School. However, while his ideas included some of the beliefs of so many other groups during the Awakening, his exact belief system had a few twists not shared by most, which would soon get him into trouble. While at Yale, Noyes adopted the religious doctrine of perfectionism – that man has the ability to be spiritually and physically perfect – which led him to the belief that he, himself, was perfect and had already achieved complete holiness on Earth. Needless to say, this didn’t sit well with many. He was kicked out of Yale and began preaching his version of perfectionism across the Northeast. His family begged him to come home, but he instead continued his impoverished, homeless wandering. john humphrey noyesWhile he initially had little success convincing anyone to follow him (not many are interested in listening to a raving homeless man), eventually his message won over a select few, including a woman named Abigail Merwin. Noyes was smitten with Abigail, but Merwin was not as much. While she believed in his message, she was married to another man. Noyes’ distress over this situation lead him to come up with the concept in 1837 of “spiritual spouses,” which evolved into “spiritual polyamory.” His belief was that traditional marriage made each person the “selfish possession of one another” and did not give them the ability to love all men and women equally. He noted in a letter in 1837, When the will of God is down on earth as it is in heaven there will be no marriage. Exclusiveness, jealousy, quarreling have no place at the marriage supper of the Lamb. I call a certain woman my wife. She is yours, she is Christ’s, and in him she is the bride of all saints. She is now in the hands of a stranger, and according to my promise to her I rejoice. My claim upon her cuts directly across the marriage covenant of this world, and God knows the end. Under these pretenses, Noyes eventually married another woman, Harriet Holton, but still had latitude to engage in other relationships. Not only accepting her new husband’s beliefs, Holton also happened to be the beneficiary of a very large inheritance, helping Noyes take his little community to the next level. By the mid-1840s, the membership of “The Society of Inquiry” (as Noyes called it) had swelled to nearly three dozen followers. In 1846, the idea of spiritual polyamory also took the next step when Noyes encouraged 10 people, including himself and two of his sisters, to enter a marriage contract, meaning that all were married to one another. The contract also made “John H. Noyes… the father and overseer whom the Holy Ghost has set over the family thus constituted.” Months later, Noyes was arrested on charges of adultery (which was illegal then, whether consensual or not), but he was freed and, to escape further persecution, moved his group to a farm along Oneida Creek in New York. oneida_communityAs the years went on, membership in Noyes’ religious group, which changed its name to “The Community,” and the eccentricities of the man grew. Rules were adapted to his whims. Believing that new members needed more indoctrination, he asked all newbies to live under one roof together. Seemingly because he didn’t do well with emotional attachment, Noyes discouraged emotional attachment to one another and told his followers to devote that energy to the group instead. Even more cult-like, parents who showed too much “sticky love” towards their own children (or vice-versa) would be barred from seeing them for a period until they could prove that they did not care for their own children any more than any of the others in the community. This did not stop some from secretly harboring special affection for their offspring, and children to their parents. For instance, one boy would later write about his experience when his mother would manage to get him alone. (Community children did not live with either of their parents, but in a Children’s House building where they were cared for by nurses and teachers after being given up by their mothers at the age of 18 months.) He stated his mother would say to him “Darling, do you love me?” And that, “I always melted. My marbles and blocks were forgotten. I would reach up and put my arms about her neck. I remember how tightly she held me and how long, as though she would never let me go.” Perhaps most disturbingly, once the children went through puberty, they would be assigned to older men and women to engage in sexual acts. Specifically, around 14, males would be sent to “interviews” with a spiritually devout postmenopausal woman, with these women chosen specifically so they would not get pregnant from the boys, who had not yet learned to control their climax. You see, rather than using the withdrawal method, coitus interruptus, which was one of the most effective birth control methods historically, and is surprisingly just as effective as condoms at preventing pregnancy, even in real world practice, the community instead practiced coitus reservatus as their main method of birth control- where the man was not to orgasm at all. The idea was that this would simultaneously prevent pregnancy, ensure the man maintained his vitality (the belief at the time was that the loss of semen negatively impacted a man’s health), and made sure the woman was optimally pleasured for maximal spiritual benefit. On the other side, around the age of 12, females’ were likewise given so-called “interviews” with the old men in the community. This mandate that the young teens exclusively only have sex with older men and women, partially to control pregnancies and partially to make sure more “holy” members were the ones to introduce the youth to the “holy pleasures of sex,” was lamented by some teens in the community, but nevertheless was a strictly maintained practice until the teens were deemed old enough to have “interview” requests with one another granted by an intermediary. Needless to say, this practice was extremely out of touch with the morals of both that age and this. (And, note, contrary to popular belief, it has never been the norm for young teenage girls or boys to marry in Western society. In fact, the lowest median age of first marriage since the early 1700s was by the baby boomer generation, where the average age of women marrying dropped from about 22-24 to 20.5 years in 1950. Perhaps not surprisingly, it was also the baby boomer generation that saw divorce rates rise to their highest in the last half century, peaking in the 1970s and early 1980s, and declining ever since, again contrary to popular belief.) Looking past the extreme child abuse, Noyes’ attitude towards sex was relatively progressive for his era, particularly in the sense that he believed female sexuality was healthy and positive, going against the Victorian thinking of the day. Just as scandalous for the age was that he firmly believed that being pregnant was essentially the bane of a woman’s existence. He felt it stopped women from fulfilling their spiritual potential, reduced their happiness and harmed their health, owing to the perpetual state of being pregnant and caring for babies (a fair percentage of which died in infancy) that was the life of so many women of that time period and region of the world. As such, Noyes strongly advocated for birth control, which resulted in just 40 children being born from 1848-1868 in the community. This was despite that the community comprised of 200-300 members during that period and that frequent copulation with different partners was the name of the game. Eventually, if a woman wanted to become pregnant, not just have sex, she and the man of her choice had to apply to do so. If the couple were deemed sufficiently spiritual by a committee, they were allowed to procreate. While seemingly overly strict, it is noted that there are only nine known instances of applications to have a child being rejected in the community. The women of Oneida also were encouraged to engage in the same physical activities as the men, which included manual labor and sports. Freed from having to raise children and other such domestic affairs, a female in the Oneida community was just as likely to be chopping down a tree as cooking a meal in the kitchen. Likewise, the men did household tasks like laundry when the need arose, all of which was mostly unheard of in 19th century America. By the beginning of the Civil War, the Oneida community was numbering in the hundreds, but struggling financially. With war and rising money demands, they needed to find a way to bring in money and fast. Despite the commune nature of the community, with no member allowed to accumulate possessions for themselves outside of basic necessities, Noyes never had any issues with the idea of the community as a whole accumulating wealth. The group’s first major business venture was trying to grow and sell fruit, but the harsh winters of upstate New York made the task difficult. Next, they turned to several other business ideas, such as making leather bags, fine thread, and metal traps. While the women of the community never wore fur coats themselves, they were happy to benefit from such fads happening outside of their community with trapping business being a booming industry in America during the mid-19th century. Needless to say, their metal traps sold well. But it wasn’t going to last and the community sought to diversify its income sources even more. The story goes that in 1877, a member of the community whose offspring would eventually write a book about this group, was sitting on the banks of the river and noticed a silverware factory nearby. He figured they were on the same river, so they could just as easily make such silverware. By 1879, the Oneida Community was doing just that. A year later, the religious community collapsed due to certain new marriage laws banning such complex marriages in the United States. A now-deaf Noyes abandoned his community, fleeing to Canada. Without his leadership, and with many youth of the group having come back from colleges with a new outlook on their home life, the community crumbled and the members mostly paired off with their favorite partner into more traditional relationships. There was at this point still the matter of all the community’s assets, including Oneida Silverware. It was ultimately decided that a corporation should be formed with shares granted to former community members based on how much they original contributed financially to the community upon joining and how hard they’d worked while members. Of course, most had not worked that hard at all, with it being typical for community members to only work a few hours per day. For reference, the average work week in the United States in 1890 was around 90-100 hours per week for most tradesmen according to a federal government survey. This lack of much work time had actually forced the community to hire outside laborers working more traditional extreme hours for the day to do much of the work in their various business ventures. Led by former members of the community, including Noyes’ son, Oneida Community, Limited was born in 1880. Buoyed by very successful marketing in newspaper and magazine advertisements, Oneida Silverware took off into the 20th century. Celebrity endorsements, like Princess Margrethe of Denmark, and appealing to the dream of having a high-class home, made Oneida Silverware the largest seller of silverware in America in the mid-20th century. The descendants of the community hung onto the company until 2006 when bankruptcy forced a sale to EveryWare Global (who, themselves filed for bankruptcy last year). Today, Oneida Silverware is still being sold and being used by grandmas everywhere, who are likely completely unaware of the communist, polyamorous religious community that originally made the cutlery.


Community structure

Even though the community only reached a maximum population of about 300, it had a complex bureaucracy of 27 standing committees and 48 administrative sections.[3]

The manufacturing of silverware, the sole remaining industry, began in 1877, relatively late in the life of the community, and still exists.[2] Secondary industries included the manufacture of leather travel bags, the weaving of palm frond hats, the construction of rustic garden furniture, game traps, and tourism.

All community members were expected to work, each according to his or her abilities. Women tended to do many of the domestic duties.[4] Although more skilled jobs tended to remain with an individual member (the financial manager, for example, held his post throughout the life of the community), community members rotated through the more unskilled jobs, working in the house, the fields, or the various industries. As Oneida thrived, it began to hire outsiders to work in these positions as well. They were a major employer in the area, with approximately 200 employees by 1870.

Complex marriage

The Oneida community believed strongly in a system of free love (a term Noyes is credited with coining) known as complex marriage,[5] where any member was free to have sex with any other who consented.[6] Possessiveness and exclusive relationships were frowned upon.[7] Unlike 20th-century social movements such as the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s, the Oneidans did not seek consequence-free sex for pleasure, but believed that, because the natural outcome of intercourse was pregnancy, raising children should be a communal responsibility. Women over the age of 40 were to act as sexual "mentors" to adolescent boys, as these relationships had minimal chance of conceiving. Furthermore, these women became religious role models for the young men. Likewise, older men often introduced young women to sex. Noyes often used his own judgment in determining the partnerships that would form, and would often encourage relationships between the non-devout and the devout in the community, in the hopes that the attitudes and behaviors of the devout would influence the non-devout.[8]

In 1993, the archives of the community were made available to scholars for the first time. Contained within the archives was the journal of Tirzah Miller,[9] Noyes' niece, who wrote extensively about her romantic and sexual relations with other members of Oneida.[1]

Mutual criticism

Every member of the community was subject to criticism by committee or the community as a whole, during a general meeting.[10] The goal was to eliminate undesirable character traits.[11] Various contemporary sources contend that Noyes himself was the subject of criticism, although less often and of probably less severe criticism than the rest of the community. Charles Nordhoff said he had witnessed the criticism of a member he referred to as "Charles", writing the following account of the incident:

Charles sat speechless, looking before him; but as the accusations multiplied, his face grew paler, and drops of perspiration began to stand on his forehead. The remarks I have reported took up about half an hour; and now, each one in the circle having spoken, Mr. Noyes summed up. He said that Charles had some serious faults; that he had watched him with some care; and that he thought the young man was earnestly trying to cure himself. He spoke in general praise of his ability, his good character, and of certain temptations he had resisted in the course of his life. He thought he saw signs that Charles was making a real and earnest attempt to conquer his faults; and as one evidence of this, he remarked that Charles had lately come to him to consult him upon a difficult case in which he had had a severe struggle, but had in the end succeeded in doing right. "In the course of what we call stirpiculture", said Noyes, "Charles, as you know, is in the situation of one who is by and by to become a father. Under these circumstances, he has fallen under the too common temptation of selfish love, and a desire to wait upon and cultivate an exclusive intimacy with the woman who was to bear a child through him. This is an insidious temptation, very apt to attack people under such circumstances; but it must nevertheless be struggled against." Charles, he went on to say, had come to him for advice in this case, and he (Noyes) had at first refused to tell him any thing, but had asked him what he thought he ought to do; that after some conversation, Charles had determined, and he agreed with him, that he ought to isolate himself entirely from the woman, and let another man take his place at her side; and this Charles had accordingly done, with a most praiseworthy spirit of selfsacrifice. Charles had indeed still further taken up his cross, as he had noticed with pleasure, by going to sleep with the smaller children, to take charge of them during the night. Taking all this in view, he thought Charles was in a fair way to become a better man, and had manifested a sincere desire to improve, and to rid himself of all selfish faults.[12]

Male continence

To control reproduction within the Oneida community, a system of male continence or coitus reservatus was enacted.[13] John Humprey Noyes decided that sexual intercourse served two distinct purposes. In Male Continence, Noyes argues that the method simply "proposes the subordination of the flesh to the spirit, teaching men to seek principally the elevated spiritual pleasures of sexual connection".[14] The primary purpose of male continence was social satisfaction, "to allow the sexes to communicate and express affection for one another".[15] The second purpose was procreation. Of around two hundred adults using male continence as birth control, there were twelve unplanned births within Oneida between 1848 and 1868,[15] indicating that it was a highly effective form of birth control.[16]:18 Young men were introduced to male continence by women who were post-menopause, and young women were introduced by experienced, older males.[16]

Noyes believed that ejaculation "drained men's vitality and led to disease"[17] and pregnancy and childbirth "levied a heavy tax on the vitality of women".[17] Noyes founded male continence to spare his wife, Harriet, from more difficult childbirths after five traumatizing births of which four led to the death of the child.[16]:17 They favored this method of male continence over other methods of birth control because they found it to be natural, healthy and favorable for the development of intimate relationships.[17]:743 Women found increased sexual satisfaction in the practice, and Oneida is regarded as highly unusual in the value they placed on women's sexual satisfaction.[16]:19 If a male failed he faced public disapproval or private rejection.[17]:743

It is unclear whether the practice of male continence led to significant problems. Sociologist Lawrence Foster sees hints in Noyes' letters indicating that masturbation and anti-social withdrawal from community life may have been issues.[16]:19 Oneida's practice of male continence did not lead to impotence.[16]:18


The community introduced a program of eugenics, then known as stirpiculture,[18] in 1869.[19][20] It was a selective breeding program designed to create more perfect children.[21] Communitarians, who wished to be parents, would go before a committee to be matched based on their spiritual and moral qualities. 53 women and 38 men participated in this program, which necessitated the construction of a new wing of the Oneida Community Mansion House. The experiment yielded 58 children, nine of whom were fathered by Noyes.

Once children were weaned (usually at around the age of one) they were raised communally in the Children's Wing, or South Wing.[22] Their parents were allowed to visit, but the children's department held jurisdiction over raising the offspring. If the department suspected a parent and child were bonding too closely, the community would enforce a period of separation because the group wanted to stop the affection between parents and children.[23][24]

The Children's department had a male and female supervisor to look after children between ages two and twelve. The surpervisors made sure children followed the routine. Dressing, prayers, breakfast, work, school, lunch, work, playtime, supper, prayers, and study, which were "adjusted according to 'age and ability'."[25]

Role of women

Oneida embodied one of the most radical and institutional efforts to change women's role and improve female status in 19th-century America.[26] Women gained some freedoms in the commune that they could not get on the outside. Some of these privileges included not having to care for their own children as Oneida had a communal child care system, as well as freedom from unwanted pregnancies with Oneida's male continence practice. In addition, they were able to wear functional, Bloomer-style clothing and maintain short haircuts. Women were able to participate in practically all types of community work.[26] While domestic duties remained a primarily female responsibility, women were free to explore positions in business and sales, or as artisans or craftsmen, and many did so, particularly in the late 1860s and early 1870s.[4]:260 Last, women had an active role in shaping commune policy, participating in the daily religious and business meetings.[26]

The complex marriage and free love systems practiced at Oneida further acknowledged female status. Through the complex marriage arrangement, women and men had equal freedom in sexual expression and commitment.[26] Indeed, sexual practices at Oneida accepted female sexuality. A woman's right to satisfying sexual experiences was recognized, and women were encouraged to have orgasms.[4]:224, 232 However, a woman's right of refusing a sexual overture was limited depending on the status of the man who made the advance.[4]:241

Ellen Wayland-Smith, author of "The Status and Self-Perception of Women in the Oneida Community", said that men and women had roughly equal status in the community. She points out that while both sexes were ultimately subject to Noyes' vision and will, women did not suffer any undue oppression.[27]

Interactions with wider society

The community experienced freedom from wider society. The previously mentioned unorthodox marital, sexual, and religious practices caused them to face some criticism. However, between the community's beginning in the 1850s until the 1870s, their interactions with wider society were mostly favorable. These are the best known instances of conflict and peace resolution.

Outsider criticism

In 1870, a "nineteenth century cultural critic" Dr. John B. Ellis wrote a book against Free Love communities that Noyes inspired, including "Individual Sovereigns, Berlin Heights Free Lovers, Spiritualists, Advocates of Woman Suffrage, or Friends of Free Divorce".[28][29] He saw their joint goal to be ending marriage. Dr. Ellis described this as an attack on the prevailing moral order.[28][non-primary source needed] Historian Gayle Fischer mentions that Dr. Ellis also criticized Oneida women's clothing as "healthful' uniforms did not rid Oneida women of their 'peculiar air of unhealthiness' — brought on by "sexual excess."[29]

Noyes responded to Ellis' criticism four years later in a pamphlet, Dixon and His Copytists, where he claimed that Dr. John B. Ellis is a pseudonym for a "literary gentleman living in the upper part of the city."[30] Noyes argued that AMS press employed the writer after they read a Philadelphia paper article on the community and saw a chance to profit off sensationalist writing.[30][non-primary source needed]

Tryphena Hubbard's legal battle

In Anthony Wonderly’s Oneida Utopia, he covers the 1848-1851 Hubbard affair as a moment where a legal conflict almost ended the group, who were only a mere "Association" at the time. Twenty-one year old Tryphena Hubbard learned Noyes’ ideas about marriage and sex through his manuscript Bible Argument in 1848. She joined the community and became the group's first local convert. Tryphena Hubbard soon married Henry Seymour, a young man in the community.[31]

Early in 1849, Tryphena's father Noahdiah Hubbard learned of the Association's open marriages and demanded his daughter's return. Tryphena refused and for two years Noahdiah "made a sulking nuisance of himself at the Mansion House."[31]

An 1850 criticism of Tryphena mentioned her "insubordination to the church" as well as "excess egotism amounting to insanity."[31] There was marriage before the community attempted perfectionism and Tryphena's husband's supervision over her was increased along with the "disciplinary norms of the day, physical punishment."[31]

In September 1851 Tryphena began displaying signs of mental illness, "crying at night, speaking incoherently, and wandering around." Seymour went to the Hubbard family to report their daughter's insanity and both parents were appalled by Seymour's physical violence.[31]

On September 27, 1851, Noahdiah Hubbard lodged assault and battery charges on behalf of his daughter.[32] Seymour was indicted and other community members were served arrest warrants as accessories.[31]

The case was settled on November 26, 1851. The community agreed to Tryphena's expenses while she was in the asylum and after her release $125 a year if she was well and $200 a year if she remained unwell. The Hubbards eventually accepted a $350 settlement in lieu of long term payments. Tryphena Hubbard eventually returned to Henry Seymour and had a child by him. She died at the age of 49 in 1877.[32]


The community lasted until John Humphrey Noyes attempted to pass leadership to his son, Theodore Noyes. This move was unsuccessful because Theodore was an agnostic and lacked his father's talent for leadership.[33] The move also divided the community, as Communitarian John Tower attempted to wrest control for himself.[3]

Within the commune, there was a debate about when children should be initiated into sex, and by whom. There was also much debate about its practices as a whole. The founding members were aging or deceased, and many of the younger communitarians desired to enter into exclusive, traditional marriages.[34]

The capstone to all these pressures was the campaign by Professor John Mears of Hamilton College against the community. He called for a protest meeting against the Oneida Community; it was attended by forty-seven clergymen.[35] John Humphrey Noyes was informed by trusted adviser Myron Kinsley that a warrant for his arrest on charges of statutory rape was imminent. Noyes fled the Oneida Community Mansion House and the country in the middle of a June night in 1879, never to return to the United States. Shortly afterward, he wrote to his followers from Niagara Falls, Ontario, recommending that the practice of complex marriage be abandoned.

Complex marriage was abandoned in 1879 following external pressures and the community soon broke apart, with some of the members reorganizing as a joint-stock company. Marital partners normalized their status with the partners with whom they were cohabiting at the time of the re-organization. Over 70 Community members entered into a traditional marriage in the following year.

During the early 20th century, the new company, Oneida Community Limited, narrowed their focus to silverware. The animal trap business was sold in 1912, the silk business in 1916, and the canning discontinued as unprofitable in 1915.

The joint-stock corporation still exists and is a major producer of cutlery under the brand name "Oneida Limited". In September 2004 Oneida Limited announced that it would cease all U.S. manufacturing operations in the beginning of 2005, ending a 124-year tradition. The company continues to design and market products that are manufactured overseas. The company has been selling off its manufacturing facilities. Most recently, the distribution center in Sherrill, New York, was closed. Administrative offices remain in the Oneida area.

The last original member of the community, Ella Florence Underwood (1850–1950), died on June 25, 1950, in Kenwood, New York, near Oneida, New York.[36][37]


From a 1907 postcard
From a 1907 postcard

Many histories and first-person accounts of the Oneida Community have been published since the commune dissolved itself. Among those are: The Oneida Community: An Autobiography, 1851–1876 and The Oneida Community: The Breakup, 1876–1881, both by Constance Noyes Robertson; Desire and Duty at Oneida: Tirzah Miller's Intimate Memoir and Special Love/Special Sex: An Oneida Community Diary, both by Robert S. Fogarty; Without Sin by Spencer Klaw; Oneida, From Free Love Utopia to the Well-Set Table by Ellen Wayland-Smith; and biographical/autobiographic accounts by once-members including Jessie Catherine Kinsley, Corinna Ackley Noyes, George Wallingford Noyes, and Pierrepont B. Noyes.

An account of the Oneida Community is found in Sarah Vowell's book Assassination Vacation. It discusses the community in general and the membership of Charles Guiteau, for more than five years, in the community (Guiteau later assassinated President James A. Garfield). The perfectionist community in David Flusfeder's novel Pagan House (2007) is directly inspired by the Oneida Community. Oneida Community is given tribute at Twin Oaks, a contemporary intentional community of 100 members in Virginia. All Twin Oaks' buildings are named after communities that are no longer actively functioning, and "Oneida" is the name of one of the residences.

The Oneida Community Mansion House was listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1965, and the principal surviving material culture of the Oneida Community consists of those landmarked buildings, object collections, and landscape. The five buildings of the Mansion House, separately designed by Erastus Hamilton, Lewis W. Leeds, and Theodore Skinner, comprise 93,000-square-foot (8,600 m2) on a 33-acre site. This site has been continuously occupied since the community's establishment in 1848 and the existing Mansion House has been occupied since 1862. Today, the Oneida Community Mansion House is a non-profit educational organization chartered by the State of New York and welcomes visitors throughout the year with guided tours, programs, and exhibits. It preserves, collects and interprets the intangible and material culture of the Oneida Community and of related themes of the 19th and 20th centuries. The Mansion House also houses residential apartments, overnight guest rooms, and meeting space.


  1. ^ a b Chmielewski, Wendy E. (2001). "Review of Desire and Duty at Oneida: Tirzah Miller's Intimate Memoir". Utopian Studies. 12 (1): 176–178. JSTOR 20718260.
  2. ^ a b "Why the Keepers of Oneida Don't Care to Share the Table", The New York Times, June 20, 1999.
  3. ^ a b MacHovec, Frank (2009). Cults and Terrorism (3rd ed.). p. 57. ISBN 978-0-557-04459-7. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d Kern, Louis J. (1981). An Ordered Love: Sex Roles and Sexuality in Victorian Utopias: The Shakers, the Mormons, and the Oneida Community. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
  5. ^ Foster, Lawrence (2010). "Free Love and Community: John Humphrey Noyes and the Oneida Perfectionists". In: Donald E. Pitzer (ed.), America's Communal Utopias. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, pp. 253–278.
  6. ^ Stoehr, Taylor (1979). Free Love in America: A Documentary History. New York: AMS Press, Inc.
  7. ^ DeMaria, Richard (1978). Communal Love at Oneida: A Perfectionist Vision of Authority, Property and Sexual Order. New York: The Edwin Mellen Press, p. 83.
  8. ^ Noyes, Pierrepont (1937). My Father's House: An Oneida Boyhood. New York: Farrar & Rinehart.
  9. ^ Miller, Tirzah (2000). Desire and Duty at Oneida: Tirzah Miller's Intimate Memoir. Ed. Robert Fogarty. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.
  10. ^ Mutual Criticism. Oneida, N.Y.: Office of the American Socialist, 1876.
  11. ^ Parker, Robert Allerton (1935). "Mutual Criticism". In: A Yankee Saint: John Humphrey Noyes and the Oneida Community. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, p. 215.
  12. ^ Nordhoff, Charles (1875). "The Perfectionists of Oneida and Wallingford". In: The Communistic Societies of the United States from Personal Visit and Observation. London: John Murray, pp. 292–293.
  13. ^ Sandeen, Ernest R. (March 1971). "John Humphrey Noyes as the New Adam". Church History. 40 (1): 82–90. doi:10.2307/3163109. JSTOR 3163109.
  14. ^ Noyes, John (1872). Male Continence. Syracuse Library: Oneida Community. p. 13.
  15. ^ a b Van Wormer, Heather M. (March 2006). "The Ties That Bind: Ideology, Material Culture, and the Utopian Ideal". Historical Archaeology. 40 (1): 37–56. doi:10.1007/BF03376714. JSTOR 25617315.
  16. ^ a b c d e f Foster, Lawrence (December 1986). "The Psychology of Free Love in the Oneida Community". Australasian Journal of American Studies. 5 (2): 18–19. JSTOR 41053416.
  17. ^ a b c d Mandelker, Ira L. (Autumn 1982). "Religion, Sex, and Utopia in Nineteenth-Century America". Social Research. 49 (3): 742–3. JSTOR 40972330.
  18. ^ Anita Newcomb McGee (October 1891), "An Experiment in Human Stirpiculture", American Anthropologist, Washington, D.C., 4 (4): 319–326, JSTOR 658471, OCLC 5157095105Wikidata Q41713204
  19. ^ Victoria Woodhull (1888), "Stirpiculture, or, The scientific propagation of the human race", The Victoria Woodhull reader, Weston, OCLC 875132547Wikidata Q41714157
  20. ^ Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute, Utopian Communities, 1800–1890. Archived September 5, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ Richards, Martin (2004). "Perfecting People: Selective Breeding at the Oneida Community (1869–1879) and the Eugenics Movement", New Genetics and Society 23 (1), pp. 47–71.
  22. ^ Youcha, Geraldine (2005). "The Oneida Community". In: Minding the Children: Child Care in America from Colonial Times to the Present.. Boston: Da Capo Press, pp. 110–114.
  23. ^ Matarese, Susan M. & Paul G. Salmon (1893). "Heirs to the Promise Land: The Children of Oneida", International Journal of Sociology of the Family 13 (2), pp. 35–43.
  24. ^ Katerine Heim, “Oneida’s Utopia: A Religious and Scientific Experiment” California State University, Sacramento Master of Arts Thesis (2009): 59.
  25. ^ Noyes, Pierrepont (1937). My Father's House: An Oneida Boyhood. Quinn and Boden Company. p. 11.
  26. ^ a b c d Foster, Lawrence (1991). Women, Family, and Utopia: Communal Experiments of the Shakers, the Oneida Community, and the Mormons. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press. pp. 91–102.
  27. ^ Wayland-Smith, Ellen (1988). "The Status and Self-Perception of Women in the Oneida Community". Communal Societies. 8: 49.
  28. ^ a b Ellis, John (1870). Free Love and its Votaries: or American Socialism Unmasked. United States Publishing. pp. 10–13.
  29. ^ a b Fischer, Gayle (2001). Pantaloons in Private Health and Religious Dress Reform before Freedom Dresses. Ohio: The Kent State University Press. p. 58. ISBN 978-0873386821.
  30. ^ a b Noyes, John (1872). "Dixon and His Copytists". Male Continence. AMS Press. pp. 37–39.
  31. ^ a b c d e f Wonderley, Anthony (2017). "Creating a Community". Oneida Utopia: A Community Searching for Human Happiness and Prosperity. Cornell University Press. pp. 72–74, 137. ISBN 978-1-5017-0980-7.
  32. ^ a b Noyes, George Wallingford; Foster, Lawrence (2001). Free Love in Utopia: John Humphrey Noyes and the Origin of the Oneida Community. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 9780252026706.
  33. ^ Hillebrand, Randall (2003). "The Oneida Community", New York History Net.
  34. ^ Roach, Monique Patenaude (June 2001). "The Loss of Religious Allegiance Among the Youth of the Oneida Community". The Historian. 63 (4): 787–806. doi:10.1111/j.1540-6563.2001.tb01946.x. JSTOR 24450501.
  35. ^ "The Oneida Community Collection in the Syracuse University Library". Retrieved October 3, 2016.
  36. ^ "Upstate Centenarian is Dead". The New York Times. Associated Press. June 27, 1950. p. 29.
  37. ^ Time (magazine); July 3, 1950; Died. Ella Florence Underwood, 100, last surviving member of the Oneida Community, a financially successful communal settlement (Oneida Silver) that practiced both promiscuity within its own group and stirpiculture; of a heart attack; near Oneida, N.Y.

Further reading

  • Barkun, Michael (1996). Crucible of the Millennium: The Burned-Over District of New York in the 1840s. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press.
  • Bernstein, Leonard (1953). "The Ideas of John Humphrey Noyes, Perfectionist", American Quarterly 5 (2), pp. 157–165.
  • Carden, Maren Lockwood (1869). Oneida: Utopian Community to Modern Corporation. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press.
  • Foster, Lawrence (1981). "Free Love and Feminism: John Humphrey Noyes and the Oneida Community", Journal of the Early Republic 1 (2), pp. 165–183.
  • Foster, Lawrence (1984). Religion and Sexuality. University of Illinois Press.
  • Foster, Lawrence (1981). Religion and Sexuality: The Shakers, the Mormons, and the Oneida Community. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-01119-1.
  • Foster, Lawrence (1986). "The Psychology of Free Love in the Oneida Community", Australasian Journal of American Studies 5 (2), pp. 14–26.
  • Foster, Lawrence (1991). Women, Family, and Utopia: Communal Experiments of the Shakers, the Oneida Community, and the Mormons. Syracuse University Press.
  • Hinds, William Alfred (1908). "The Perfectionists and their Communities". In: American Communities and Co-operative Colonies. Chicago: C.H. Kerr & Co., pp. 152–231.
  • Kephart, William M. (1963). "Experimental Family Organization: An Historico-Cultural Report on the Oneida Community", Marriage and Family Living 25 (3), pp. 261–271.
  • Klaw, Spencer (1993). Without Sin: The Life and Death of the Oneida Community. New York: Allen Lane, Penguin Press.
  • Lowenthal, Esther (1927). "The Labor Policy of the Oneida Community Ltd.", Journal of Political Economy 35 (1), pp. 114–126.
  • Mandelker, I.L. (2009). Religion, Society, and Utopia in Nineteenth-Century America. University of Massachusetts Press. ISBN 978-1-55849-768-9.
  • Meyer, William B. (2002). "The Perfectionists and the Weather: The Oneida Community's Quest for Meteorological Utopia, 1848–1879", Environmental History 7 (4), pp. 589–610.
  • Noyes, Pierpoint B. (1958). A Goodly Heritage. New York: Rinehart Press ISBN 0-01-646722-1
  • Olin, Spencer C. Jr. (1980). "The Oneida Community and the Instability of Charismatic Authority", The Journal of American History 16 (2) pp. 285–300.
  • Robertson, Constance (1972). Oneida Community; The Breakup, 1876–1881. Syracuse University Press ISBN 0-8156-0086-0
  • Robertson, Constance (1981). Oneida Community; An Autobiography 1851–1876. Syracuse University Press ISBN 0-8156-0166-2
  • Ryan, Mary P. (1981). Cradle of the Middle Class: The Family in Oneida County, New York, 1790–1865. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Smith, Goldwin (1893). "The Oneida Community and American Socialism". In: Essays on Questions of the Day, Political and Social. New York: Macmillan & Co., pp. 337–360.
  • Spears, Timothy B. (1989). "Circles of Grace: Passion and Control in the Thought of John Humphrey Noyes", New York History 70 (1), pp. 79–103.
  • Spurlock, John C. (1988). Free Love: Marriage and Middle-Class Radicalism in America, 1825–1860. New York: New York University Press.
  • Thomas, Robert David (1977). The Man Who Would Be Perfect: John Humphrey Noyes and the Utopian Impulse. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.
  • Warfield, Benjamin B. (1921). "John Humphrey Noyes and his 'Bible Communists,'" Bibliotheca Sacra, Vol. 78, No. 309, pp. 37–72.
  • Wayland-Smith, Ellen (1988). "The Status and Self-Perception of Women in the Oneida Community", Communal Societies 8, pp. 18–53.
  • White, Janet R. (1996). "Designed for Perfection: Intersections between Architecture and Social Program at the Oneida Community", Utopian Studies 7 (2), pp. 113–138.

External links

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