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Professor Of History, Syracuse University
Introduction and Bibliographical Notes by
Librarian, Lena R. Arents Rare Book Room
Syracuse University Library
MANUFACTURED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
BY THE CAYUGA PRESS, INC., ITHACA, NEW YORK
Foreword . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Books and Pamphlets by John Humphrey Noyes . . . 11
Books and Pamphlets about the Oneida Community and John Humphrey Noyes . . . . . 13
Serial Publications Issued or Edited by John Humphrey Noyes
or by the Communities with Which He Was Associated . 18
Miscellaneous Publications . . . . . . . . 27
Manuscript Materials in the Syracuse University Library Relating to the Oneida Community . . . . 3
Syracuse University and the Oneida Community . . . 35
General Social Reform Publications . . . . . . 37
But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
1 John 1:7
THE ONEIDA COMMUNITY was an experiment in Christian perfectionism, the doctrine that by union with God persons could live lives entirely free from sin. It was radical in the thoroughness with which this challenging ideal was pursued.
The Community was founded in 1848 by John Humphrey Noyes, who rivals Joseph Smith for the distinction of being the most controversial figure in American religious history. Born in 1811 in Brattleboro, Vermont, and graduated from Dartmouth College in 1830, Noyes gave up the study of law and began to prepare for the ministry after experiencing conversion during one of the revivals then sweeping the country. After a year at Andover Theological Seminary he transferred to the Yale Theological Seminary, where, still a student, he was licensed to preach by the local Congregational Association in 1833.
Speaking frequently at the New Haven Free Church, a center of emotional evangelism, young Noyes found himself increasingly attracted to the idea of Christian perfection. He was only one of many turning in this direction. Since 1828 preachers proclaiming the perfectionist point of view had been creating a great stir, particularly around New York City, Albany, and Central New York State. These early perfectionists were mostly variant Methodists who had seized upon John Wesley's teaching that perfect holiness was a theoretical possibility and a goal worthy of the efforts of his more spiritual followers. The New York perfectionists shook off the caution with which
2 ONEIDA COMMUNITY COLLECTION
Wesley had stated his ideas and made this the central emphasis of their preaching. From the beginning, orthodox Presbyterians and Congregationalists had regarded perfectionism as a dangerous heresy:
complete emancipation from sin was to them a goal to be achieved only in Heaven, not by presumptuous men on earth.
When, therefore, on February 20, 1834, Noyes took the occasion of a sermon at the New Haven Free Church to announce that he had achieved full salvation from sin, he created a great stir both in the town and the college. Two months later the Congregational Association revoked his license on the ground that he had adopted views on perfection which were "erroneous, unscriptural, and inconsistent with his usefulness as a preacher of the gospel." He was also expelled from the Theological Seminary.
Though branded a heretic, Noyes was unrepentant. "I have taken away their license to sin, and they keep on sinning," he declared. "So, though they have taken away my license to preach, I shall keep on preaching." For the next three years he lived a highly irregular life, winning a few converts here and there as he visited New York City, Newark, Philadelphia, and many smaller places. Often penniless and homeless, the perfectionist prophet trudged many miles on foot, sometimes sleeping in haylofts and public parks. The two poles between which his activities increasingly oscillated were New Haven and Putney, Vermont, where his parents lived. At New Haven Noyes collaborated fitfully with James Boyle, ousted pastor of the Free Church, in publishing The Perfectionist, a journal devoted to propagating the new doctrine. Visiting the family home at Putney from time to time, Noyes provided a tantalizing puzzle for his father, mother, sisters, and brothers. At first they feared that his extraordinary behavior was cvidence of insanity, but in the end his burning conviction won over most of them to become his faithful disciples.
Noyes's wanderings of these years symbolized the utter confusion prevailing through the whole perfectionist movement. Without any generally accepted leader and with wide divergences of doctrine, the perfectionists constituted not a sect, but a bewildering kaleidoscope of individual mystics and local groups. Emphasizing their freedom from bondage to the moral law, some of the perfectionists shocked Noyes with their licentiousness.
Beginning in 1837, Noyes displayed a new purposefulness in his activities. In a letter to one of his disciples he wrote:
Between this present time and the establishment of God's kingdom over the earth lies a chaos of confusions, tribulation and war such as must attend the destruction of the fashion of this world and the introduction of the will of God as it is dune in heaven. God has set me to cast up a highway across this chaos, and I am gathering out the stones and grading the track as fast as possible.
Noyes's highway depended in part on theology and in part on organization. Boyle had now deserted perfectionism for other enthusiasms, and Boyle's New Haven paper with which Noyes had been loosely associated was dead. The way was consequently open for Noyes to found his own journal, The Witness. Published first out of Ithaca, New York, but later transferred to Putney, this paper provided Noyes with the means for propagating a more stable brand of perfectionism. On the one hand, he maintained the freedom of believers from all outward law; on the other, he insisted on another and higher discipline. Right conduct must be based on love of God and an understanding of the truth. The truth would be made manifest through instruction and leadership, which Noyes felt himself divinely commissioned to provide.
In 1843 Noyes wrote:
The erection of a church, in which perfect and everlasting holiness shall reign at the center while believers in every stage of discipleship shall find in it a home, is a work which remains yet to be done; and it must be done before the kingdom and dominion under the whole heaven can be given to the saints of the Most High.
This reflected the growing emphasis which he now laid on organizing his followers into a tightly-knit association. By this time he had won a substantial number of converts at Putney, one of whom, a woman of some means named Harriet Holton, he had married in 1838. These provided the members for the "Putney Corporation or Association of Perfectionists," formally organized in 1845.
The Putney Association put into practice theories which Noyes had been developing over several years. The most radical of these was what he called "complex marriage." Rejecting conventional marriage
4 ONEIDA COMMUNITY COLLECTION
both as a form of legalism from which Christians should be free and as a selfish institution in which men exerted rights of ownership over women, the Putney group regarded themselves all as members of a single family. They also employed a form of birth control called "male continence," developed by Noyes and described in explicit detail, after the experience of his own wife Harriet impressed him with the sinfulness of burdening women with too frequent pregnancies.
Alas for human paradoxes, what was emancipation from sin for the perfectionists seemed only indulgence in sin to their unbelieving neighbors! A series of indignation meetings in nearby villages and threats of legal prosecution convinced Noyes in 1847 that it would be prudent to move his great experiment to some more favorable site. At the invitation of Jonathan Burt and other Central New York perfectionists, the Putney group found a new home on a beautiful tract near Oneida in Madison County, New York.
Organized on February 1, 1848, the Oneida Community practiced what Noyes called "Bible Communism." Since selfishness must be done away with, all claims of "mine and thine" were renounced, whether in property or in persons. Thus, the leader believed, the perfectionists were returning to the social practices of the primitive apostolic church. At first the colonists made only a sparse living from farming and fruit-growing, but in time they established highly profitable industries. One of their members invented a superior type of steel trap which gained a wide market; subsequent successful ventures took the Community into the making of steel chains, the canning of fruits and vegetables, and the manufacture of sewing thread and embroidery silk. Even though the Community grew to some 350 members and maintained a branch at Wallingford, Connecticut, the demand for labor was such that many non-Community members were employed for wages. In 1877 the Wallingford branch began the manufacture of silver-plated tableware, and three years later this promising industry was transferred to Niagara Falls, New York.
Paralleling this thriving economic activity was a wide range of intellectual pursuits. The Community published a succession of periodicals and many pamphlets and books. Great emphasis was placed upon education, with excellent schools being provided for the young and
study groups for the adults. Books were sometimes read aloud to the perfectionists as they worked.
There was no retreat from complex marriage and other practices that had caused controversy at Putney. Aware of the selfish ambition by which parents were likely to seek special privileges for their own offspring, the Community provided a Children's House, where all the boys and girls were reared as members of a common family. Still fertile with challenging ideas, Noyes became deeply interested in what he called "stirpiculture," the idea of breeding superior children by encouraging the mating of the healthiest and most intelligent males and females. Of fifty-four babies born in the Community between 1869 and 1880, all but six were carefully planned by an appropriate committee.
Although the Community thus followed a code of morals startlingly different from that of the outside world, Noyes with just indignation denied charges that his followers were unprincipled free lovers. "Our Communities," he protested, "are families as distinctly bounded and separated from promiscuous society as ordinary households. The tie that binds us together is as permanent and sacred, to say the least, as that of common marriage, for it is our religion. We receive no new members (except by deception and mistake) who do not give heart and hand to the family interest for life and for ever. Community of property extends just as far as freedom of love. Every man's care and every dollar of the common property are pledged for the maintenance and protection of the women and the education of the children of the Community." The members abstained from intoxicants, tdbacco, profanity, and obscenity; even meat, coffee, and tea were regarded as luxuries only occasionally to be served to vary the ordinary diet of vegetables and fruits. The ever-ingenious Noyes developed a system of "mutual criticism," through which the perfectionists subjected each other to candid comments on personal faults and suggestions for improvement.
Although the neighbors of the Community shook their heads over some of its practices, they learned to respect the colonists for their industriousness, honesty, and sincerity. For almost thirty years the experiment was tolerated without serious threat of interference. But
6 ONEIDA COMMUNITY COLLECTION
beginning in 1873 self-appointed guardians of morality in nearby New York cities and towns began to organize a concerted drive to obtain anti-Oneida legislation. This campaign culminated in February, 1879, in a conference held at Syracuse University, although not sponsored by the University itself. Hitherto the Oneida Community had been largely free of those internal dissentions that had plagued similar communal experiments. But now the external threat intensified growing tensions among the perfectionists themselves, partly to be explained by the rise of a younger generation less willing than the old to follow "Father" Noyes unquestioningly.
Sadly admitting the need to bend before the storm, Noyes now proposed that the Community "give up the practice of Complex Marriage, not as renouncing belief in the principles and prospective finality of that institution, but in deference to public sentiment." On August 26, 1879, the Community so resolved, and the members began the process of reorganizing their lives within conventional marriage patterns. As Noyes had foreseen, the reappearance of separate families was speedily followed by a demand for the recognition of private property rights. On January 1, 1881, the business and property of the Community were transferred to Oneida Community, Limited, an incorporated company in which the members were allocated shares on a basis carefully worked out to prevent individual hardships.
After the communal phase of his experiment came to an end, Noyes retired to a stone cottage in Niagara Falls, Canada, where he passed his remaining days in the company of a small but loyal group of relatives and friends. Still holding tenaciously to his doctrines, the patriarch finally died in 1886. Although many of the former Community members dispersed to new homes, a substantial number continued to live in the great Mansion House and other Oneida buildings. In more than one sense, therefore, the old Community never really died. Oneida Community, Limited, eventually specializing in the silverware business, passed through various vicissitudes, including reorganization as Oneida Limited in 1935. Usually prosperous, the corporation showed characteristics unique for its day in paying higher than prevailing wages and in otherwise benefiting its employees through planned housing and the encouragement of schools. Much of the old idealism thus found a new expression in the field of welfare capitalism.
The collection of Oneida Community materials described in the following pages has been assembled largely through the efforts of Mr. Lester G. Wells, Librarian of the Lena R. Arents Rare Book Room in the Syracuse University Library. Although not himself descended from the perfectionists, Mr. Wells has been a lifelong resident of Central New York and remembers visiting the Community buildings and grounds while still a boy. Several years spent later in the employ of the company gave Mr. Wells an unusual opportunity to make friends among the survivors and descendants of the Community. From these associations he came to feel sympathy for the sincerity of Noyes's great experiment and a feeling of affection and respect for the people involved. As a librarian, he has therefore seen the importance of collecting and preserving as much as possible of Noyes's published writings and other pertinent documents.
These materials are of great interest to the student of nineteenth-century American culture. It is somewhat unfortunate that curiosity about Noyes's ideas on sex and family life has tended to divert attention from other scarcely less significant aspects of his career.
As a school of thought, Christian perfectionism has not received the attention that it deserves. Early Methodism was strongly tinted with Wesley's teachings on perfection and sanctification. Within Congregational and Presbyterian circles the revolt against Calvinist orthodoxy took the form, among others, of the New Haven theology with its emphasis on man's ability to achieve a saving faith. From this doctrine so congenial to the instantaneous conversions sought by the revivalists it was only a short step to the belief that every act of sin represented a wrongful choice of the human will. If this were so, true Christians ought to be able to sanctify their lives and reject all sinful thoughts and actions. The greatest evangelist of the day, Charles G. Finney, .took this leap in his thought and developed along with others a doctrine of perfection that was taught for many years at Oberlin College greatly to the consternation of more conservative theologians. Although Finney took care to dissociate himself with Noyes's more radical perfectionist position, the two men met and discussed their ideas on at least one occasion and influenced each other indirectly through a number of traceable channels. If Finney cannot be fully understood without a study of perfectionism, William Lloyd Garrison cannot
8 ONEIDA COMMUNITY COLLECTION
either. Many of the peculiarities of Garrisonian abolitionism had their origins in the surging perfectionism of the 1830's.
Noyes himself deserves more respectful treatment as a writer and thinker than he has usually received. However wrong-headed some of his ideas may appear, they are presented with refreshing clarity and vigor. Noyes could fight with the weapons of theology, quoting Biblical verses to support every point and haggling over the definition of each item. He could also resort to the would-be prophet's favorite secret weapon, the claim of direct revelation from God. Even so, however, he had no use for the type of mysticism that renounces human reason. On the contrary, he exalted human intelligence and counted heavily upon instruction and reflection to achieve his perfect Christian society. Indeed, this prideful reliance upon reason may have been his downfall, insofar as he carried his rejection of conventional morality to extremes that were logical enough but left out of account the deep-rootedness of human institutions.
Even on the issues where his viewpoint was most controversial Noyes deserves respect as a penetrating critic of real evils. In his day - and probably in our own as well-there were all too many loveless and tyrannical marriages, too many women broken in health through excessive childbearing, too many babies brought into the world by shiftless couples unable to care for them properly, and too many children spoiled through parental indulgence. On these and scores of less explosive issues Noyes was a keen observer of society.
Interested in all religious and reform movements of the day, Noyes opened the columns of his periodicals to a description of many different subjects. As might be expected, he had a special interest in other communal experiments.
The Oneida Community materials are therefore well worth examinatlon by any student of American religious and social developments - particularly for the period 1837-1879, covered by Noyes's various papers and magazines.
NELSON M. BLAKE
Professor of History
THERE HAVE been several reasons for the Syracuse University Library to collect materials about Oneida Community and its antecedents and branches.
For three decades the Library has been assembling data on social-religious movements of New York State during the nineteenth century as part of its collecting policy to include "local history"-with chief emphasis on the geographical region of Central New York within a radius of approximately fifty miles from Syracuse.
The main body of materials in this field consists of the papers of Gerrit Smith (1797-1874), "philanthropist and reformer," and of his father Peter Smith (1768-1837), wealthy land owner and business associate of the first John Jacob Astor. Their papers cover a wide range of subject matter-land history of New York State, commercial and social relationships with the Indians, the trading post at Old Fort Schuyler (now Utica), abolition, and a multiplicity of reforms (temperance, vegetarianism, "free" churches, socialism, inter al.) .
When Syracuse University Library recently acquired complete runs of the serial publications of Oneida Community and of its antecedents and branches, covering the span of years from 1837 until 1879, we were happy to be able to provide additional primary research tools for the scholars from Syracuse and elsewhere who have been coming to us for many years.
We believe that we have the largest group of Oneida Community historical materials outside of private ownership. Consequently, we publish this little book to acquaint you with this major acquisition of materials in the field of American social reform of the nineteenth century.
A list of general social reform publications, not Oneida Community, has been included since these contain accounts of many socialistic experiments in the United States and in England.
It goes without saying that our holdings are available for the use of responsible scholars.
LESTER G. WELLS, Librarian
Lena R. Arents Rare Book Room Syracuse University Library
The Berean: a manual for the help of those who seek the faith of the primitive church. . . . Putney, Vt., Office of the Spiritual Magazine, 1847. 504 p.
A collection of articles which Noyes published in various periodicals
between 1834 and 1846. "The principal labor in editing the present
publication has been of selecting, curtailing, and arranging" (Preface)
. This is considered the "Perfectionists' Bible."
Confessions of John H. Noyes. Part 1. Confession of religious experience: including a history of modern Perfectionism. Oneida Reserve (Oneida, N.Y.), 1849. 70 p.
With an Appendix of 23 pages consisting of extracts of a journal kept
by Noyes during the three years of his theological course; letters exchanged
by him and William Curtis Noyes, James Boyle, and Charles H. Weld; extracts
from his published writings on Perfectionism. Bound with Volume I of the
Dixon and his copyists. A criticism of the accounts of the Oneida Community in "New America," "Spiritual Wives" and kindred publications. 2nd edition. (Wallingford, Conn.) The Oneida Community, 1874. 39 p.
See William Hepworth Dixon. New America. London, England, 1867.
See William Hepworth Dixon. Spiritual Wives, London, England, 1868. (Described on page 13.)
Noyes negates Dixon's statements which he published after visiting the Oneida Community in 1866, having arrived there with a letter of introduction from Horace Greeley. Noyes said that Dixon's
12 ONEIDA COMMUNITY COLLECTION
picture of the Community is as "strange and ludicrous to the Community
as it is to the general reader. . . . It is best here to bring the present
sally against Canada thistles to a close."
The doctrine of salvation from sin, explained and defended. Putney, Vt., 1843. 30 p.
A theological tract published at the office of the Perfectionist,
History of American socialisms. Philadelphia, Pa., 1870. 678 p.
An account of American socialistic experiments based on the manuscript
notes of A. J. Macdonald who assembled a vast quantity of data on American
communities and who last visited the Brooklyn branch of the Oneida Community
in 1842. His manuscript is at Yale.
Home talks, edited by Alfred Barron and George Noyes Miller. Volume 1. Oneida, N.Y., the Oneida Community, 1875. 358 p.
Only Volume 1 published. Informal discourses "associated with irregular
social groups, bright evening lamps, and a ruddy hearth"; begun in
Putney and continued at Oneida and Wallingford. The talks originally appeared
serially in the Oneida Circular.
Male continence; or Self-control in sexual intercourse. Oneida, N.Y., Office of Oneida Circular, 1866. 4 p.
Pamphlet consisting of a letter of inquiry to Noyes concerning his form
of birth control and a reply by him.
Male continence. . . . Published by the Oneida Community. Oneida, N.Y., Office of Oneida Circular, 1872. 24 p.
An elaboration of the above pamphlet.
Die Manneskraft und ihre Beherrschung und Erhaltung . . . Autorisierte deutsche Uebersetzung von H. B. Fischer. . . . Leipzig, Germany, 1896. 45 p.
A German translation of Male Continence.
Salvation from sin; the end of Christian faith. . . . Oneida, N.Y., the Oneida Community, 1876. 48 p.
A theological article in sermon form.
The way of holiness; a series of papers formerly published in the Perfectionist at New Haven. Putney, Vt., J. H. Noyes and Co., 1838. 238 p.
NOTE: This list largely excludes works of a popular nature and more
serious works devoting but a slight amount of space to the above subjects.
CALVERTON, VICTOR FRANCIS. Where angels dared to tread. Indianapolis, Ind., 1941. 381 p.
A lively and colorful history of all of the American Utopian experiments;
broad in scope.
DIXON, WILLIAM HEPWORTH. New America. London, England, 1867. 2 volumes, 359; 369 p.
Two chapters deal with Noyes and the community at Oneida Creek (Oneida, N.Y.) . In the Circular of February 18, 1867 Noyes reviewed this book; in subsequent issues Dixon's "discourse about the Community with occasional notes" was printed. Still later issues contained arguments aimed to refute the Englishman's statements. See Noyes's Dixon and his copyists. . . , 1874.
Spiritual wives. Fourth edition with a new preface by the author. London, England, 1868. 2 volumes, 331; 348 p.
Volume 2 includes references to Noyes's doctrine of Perfectionism and
of the "Second Coming"; there is also information concerning
Noyes's part in the great Brimfield, Mass. revival of 1835. The Circular
of February 24, 1868 included a four-column review of the book.
EASTMAN, REV. HUBBARD. Noyesism unveiled: a history of the sect selft styled Perfectionists; with a summary view of their leading doctrines. Brattleboro, Vt., 1849. 432 p.
Writing from Putney, Vt., in May, 1849, the author said in his preface that his aim was "to exhibit the pernicious principles propa-
14 ONEIDA COMMUNITY COLLECTION
gated by Mr. Noyes and his coadjutors. . . ." Eastman was one of
the "village cynics" who were instrumental in causing Noyes's
removal from Putney and the consequent break-up of the Putney Community.
EDMONDS, WALTER. The first hundred years: 1848 - 1948. 1848 The Oneida Community. 1880 Oneida Community Ltd. 1935 Oneida Ltd. Oneida, N.Y., Oneida Ltd. c1948. 75 p. With photographs by Samuel Chamberlain.
A "company history" with approximately 13 pages devoted to
the Oneida Community before incorporation.
ESTLAKE, ALLAN. The Oneida Community: a record of an attempt to carry out the principles of Christian unselfishness and scientific race-improvement. London, England, 1900. 158 p.
By "a member of the Oneida Community" who in his preface states that "the ethical, social and economic aspects of his (Noyes's) movement . . . represent in outline the ultimate ideal which the human race should strive to attain.
HINDS, WILLIAM ALFRED. American communities: brief sketches of Economy,
Zoar, Bethel, Aurora, Amana, Icaria, the Shakers, Oneida, Wallingford,
and the Brotherhood of the New Life. Oneida, N.Y., Office of the American
Socialist, 1878. 176 p.
American communities and co-operative colonies. Second revision. Chicago, Ill., 1908. 608 p.
Hinds was fourteen years old when he witnessed the removal of Noyes
from Putney. Later he acted as spokesman for the members of the Community
at Oneida when they abandoned their social practices in 1879. He was editor
of the Oneida Circular, organ of the Community; and a member of
the first board of directors when the joint-stock corporation was formed
and was president from 1903 until his death in 1910.
HOLLOWAY, MARK. Heavens on earth; Utopian communities in America, 168~1880. New York, N.Y., Library Publishers, 1951. 240 p.
Relying on secondary sources to a degree, the accounts are factual and
presented in an amusing style.
KAUFMANN, REV. MORITZ. Socialism and communism in their practical application. . . . London, England, Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1883. 264 p.
Although devoting but approximately ten pages to Noyes and the Oneida
Community, there are scattered references to the principles of perfectionism.
NORDHOFF, CHARLES. The communistic societies of the United States; from personal visit and observation; including detailed accounts of the Economists, Zoarites, Shakers, The Amana, Oneida, Bethel, Aurora, Icarian and other existing societies; their religious creeds, social practices, numbers, industries, and present condition. . . . New York, N.Y., 1875. 439 p. Bibliography.
W. A. Hinds reviewed this book in the Oneida Circular of January
4, 1875 saying, inter alia, "his (Nordhoff's) work should
be placed side by side with Mr. Noyes's 'History of American Socialisms'
in every good library. . . . The author evidently aimed to do the Perfectionists
justice . . . and has succeeded better than most folks. . . . In a future
number we shall give extracts . . . taking the occasion to correct a few
NOYES, CORINNA ACKLEY (Mrs. Pierrepont Burt Noyes). The days of my youth. Oneida, N.Y., 1960. Privately distributed.
Born in the Oneida Community in 1872, Mrs. Noyes became the wife of
Pierrepont Burt Noyes, son of John Humphrey Noyes Mr. P. B. Noyes became
president of the Oneida Community. Written in a delightfully modest and
ingenuous way, the book is dedicated to Mrs. Noyes's children and grand-children.
It is an important piece of source material on the daily family life of
the Community members.
NOYES, GEORGE WALLINGFORD, ED. John Humphrey Noyes the Putney Community. Compiled and edited by George Wallingford Noyes Oneida, N.Y. (Oneida Community Ltd.), 1931. 393 p.
The editor, son of John Humphrey Noyes, relied largely on his father's
writings. Hence, this is the definitive account of Noyes's first communal
experiment. It is supplemented by Religious Experience of John Humphrey
Religious experience of John Humphrey Noyes, founder of the Oneida Community. Compiled and edited by George Wallingford Noyes. New York, Macmillan Co., 1923. 416 p. With seventeen illustrations.
Although chiefly "a compilation of original documents," the editor makes use of a "semi-narrative form of presentation." This vol-
16 ONEIDA COMMUNITY COLLECTION
ume is the chief source of information concerning the thought and philosophy
of the founder of Oneida Community.
NOYES, PIERREPONT BURT. My father's house; an Oneida boyhood. New York, N.Y., Farrar and Rinehart, Inc., 1937. 312 p.
The author, son of John Humphrey Noyes, tells the story of his first
sixteen years of life in the Community. He describes life in the "Children's
House" and of the conversion of the Community into a joint stock company.
In 1898 he was appointed general manager of Oneida Community Ltd., and
in 1910 became president.
A goodly heritage. New York, N.Y., Rinehart, 1958. 275 p.
An account of the development of the corporation, Oneida Community Ltd.
PARKER, ROBERT ALLERTON. A Yankee saint; John Humphrey Noyes and the Oneida Community. New York, N.Y., G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1935. 322 p.
An interesting account of Noyes and his various communal experiments
by a non-member of the Community who enjoyed the interest and support of
descendants of the original members in acquiring data and interpreting
them. This is the sole modern biography of Noyes
SEYMOUR, HENRY J. Letter to the "Outlook." Kenwood, N.Y., February 11, 1903. 4 p.
A reply by a Community member to a critical article entitled "Free
The Oneida Community; a dialogue by . . . one of the original members. Undated. 23 p.
Written subsequent to the break-up of the Community in 1880. In the
absence of any official periodical (the last Community publication, American
Socialist, ceased publication in 1879) he says he wishes to set forth
"a true picture of the community" in retrospect.
SHAW, GEORGE BERNARD. The revolutionist's handbook and pocket companion . . . , Ill. The Perfectionist experiment at Oneida Creek (in Man and superman; a comedy and a philosophy. London, England, 1947).
Although Shaw's opinion about the Community is believed to have been based on the writings of William Hepworth Dixon, he declares that Noyes was "one of those chance attempts at the Superman which occur from time to time in spite of the interference of Man's blundering institutions. . .
STRACHEY, RACHEL CONN (COSTELLOE), ED. Group movements of the past and experiments in guidance by Ray Strachey. London, England, Faber (1934). 270 p.
Chapter 7, pages 100-117, deals with "The Perfectionists of Oneida."
WORDEN, HARRJET M. Old Mansion House memories by one brought up in it. Kenwood, Oneida, N.Y., privately printed (1950). 106 p.
This publication is dedicated to Pierrepont Burt Noyes on his 80th birthday, August 18, 1950. These reminiscences of the early years of Oneida Community were written by his mother and were first printed in the Circular during 1871 and 1872. They show the close family feeling between members and point to enjoyment of a full spiritual and social life. The "Mansion House" is the original Community House at Oneida, now an apartment house.
The Perfectionist. New Haven, Conn. Volumes 1-2, 1834-1836.
This is the first serial publication in which Noyes had a part. It should not be confused with the serial of the same name published 1843-6.
In 1833 when he was a student at the Yale Theological Seminary, New Haven, he became a member of the Free Church which had approximately twelve members and no pastor. The membership increased and in March, 1833, James Boyle, a revivalist preacher, was appointed pastor. Noyes and Boyle joined in publication of this organ of the radical branch of the Perfectionists who believed in "the immediate and total cessation of sin" and who declared that the Church on earth was soon to witness "an imminent kingdom of heaven on earth."
Publication ceased with the March 16, 1836 issue and was succeeded by the Witness, the first issue bearing the date August 20, 1837.
The Witness. Ithaca, N.Y. and Putney, Vt. Editors: J. H. Noyes; H.A. Noyes; J. L. Skinner. Volumes 1-2,1837-1843. (Continued as The Perfectionist.)
Noyes's introduction to the first issue said that he presented himself "as a simple witness for the truth . . . to tell the truth . . . in relation to the great controversy between him and the human race. . . . He proceeded to outline his theology and mentioned that he had heard the revivalist Charles G. Finney and had been influenced by him.
The subject matter is largely of a theological nature setting forth
and explaining his religious views, especially as they pertained to the Christian attitude towards human sin and to relations between the sexes in the perfect Christian society. Each issue contained letters from correspondents many of whom agreed with his views; to those who wrote in an argumentative fashion he replied at length, never failing to quote Biblical authority for his contentions. Among articles and subjects were: "Secret history of Perfectionism," "Our Name (Perfectionist)," reports of the activities of Perfectionists throughout the country, testimonies of the religious experience of individual Perfectionists, "History of The Witness," "The New Haven Theocracy," reports and communications of the Putney, Vermont community, "The Philosophy of Robert Dale Owen," "Merits of Phrenology," lists of subscribers, "The Millerite Convention," "The Oberlin Lynch Affair," reviews of religious books, etc.
Between publication of the third and fourth issues (September 23, 1837 and November 21, 1838) over a year elapsed due to a violent controversy into which Noyes had been injected. In June, 1837, Theophilus Ransom Gates started a "small and inflammatory" sheet in Philadelphia under title of Battle-Axe and Weapons of War. Therein he published a statement concerning the relationships of the sexes in the "Kingdom of God on earth" which Noyes had made confidentially and privately in a letter to David Harrison, a co-worker with Noyes in Perfectionism. Due to adverse public opinion as a result of this publicity, Noyes became hard-pressed financially and left Ithaca abandoning The Witness. After excitement died down he returned to resume publication but was unable to obtain a printer and he then went to Putney, Vt., where he published on November 21,1838.
In this issue he defended himself and did not deny that in a private letter to Harrison he had advanced the idea of marriage for which he was being attacked. He said that he was the author but not the publisher of the "Battle-Axe Letter," that it contained "doctrines and illusions which I should never have obtruded upon the public, not for fear of persecution or reproach, but lest my liberty should become a stumbling block to others." The paper continued at Putney for 26 numbers and was succeeded by the
20 ONEIDA COMMUNITY COLLECTION
Perfectionist which first appeared under date of February 15,
The Spiritual Moralist. Putney, Vt. Editors: J. H. Noyes and G. Cragin. Volume 1, 1842 (June 13 and 25). (No more published.)
In the May 10, 1842 issue of The Witness Noyes announced that "the moral reform paper" which was promised in The Witness a year ago, "will be issued within a few weeks"; that it would be edited by him and G. Cragin; and that its primary object would be "to exhibit the principles of spiritual morality, in relation to the intercourse of the sexes" and that it would embrace in its discussions ''all the popular topics of reform. . .
Only two issues were published. The subject matter of the 16 pages of
these two issues consists largely of articles and editorials such as: Noyes's
interpretation of the Biblical idea of "true love between the children
of God"; definition and description of "matrimonial affection"
from the columns of the Social Monitor; comparison of Robert Dale
Owen's and Sylvester Graham's views on the object of "sexual propensity";
"Presbyterian Ethics"; the editor's position regarding "the
marriage institution"; criticism of Dr. Beach's pamphlet on the altercations
between Noyes and Gates; the "Brimfield Affair" (incidents during
a revival when Noyes was accused of immoralities); an open letter from
Noyes to the Rev. Mr. Holmes of Leicester, Mass. who had declared that
Noyes's "disciples" in Putney lived in "promiscuous concubinage";
The Perfectionist. Putney, Vt. Editors: J. H. Noyes and J. L.
Skinner. Volume 3, 1843-4.
The Perfectionist and Theocratic Watchman. Putney, Vt. Editors: J. H. Noyes and J. L. Skinner. Volumes 4-5, 1844-1846.
In the first issue of the Perfectionist (February 14, 1843) Noyes said that when Boyle changed the name of his paper from Perfectionist (1834-1836) to New Covenant Record, Boyle "descended"; whereas the change from The Witness as title to the new paper Perfectionist was an "ascent." He believed that he had the right to name his paper the same as Boyle's as he spoke for the true Perfectionists. He said that the new publication was styled "Volume III" because it was a continuation of The Witness, the name only being changed.
Beginning with the March 23, 1844 number the name was changed to Perfectionist and Theocratic Watchman.
BIBLIOGRAPHY 21 <
From the beginning of publication the contents of these papers were about the same nature as The Witness. Theological articles defending Noyes's theological position predominated. Among other articles and subjects discussed were: news of the various orthodox sects and denominations; interpretation of selected scriptural passages which agreed with Noyes's theology; Gerrit Smith's "Church of Peterboro"; reports from the Putney Community; "Perfectionism at Belchertown"; the Hartford convention of social reformers: hydropathy; Millerism; articles on the Perfectionists everywhere; Gerrit Smith's attitude on "Sabbath observance"; socialism; anti-perfectionism; "Calvin's view of John 3:5"; report of the Perfectionists convention at Manlius, N.Y.; merits of the Liberty Party; "Napoleon's opinion of medicine"; prospectus of future volumes; account of visitors from Brook Farm; "Anti-slavery, the religion of Associationists"; Fourierism; notice of the Harbinger; "Methodist objections answered"; "Progress of Social Reform"; "Mrs. H. B. Stowe on Christian experience"; John A. Collins and the Skaneateles Community; etc.
The Spiritual Magazine succeeded with its first issue dated March 15, 1846.
Spiritual Magazine. Putney, Vt. and Oneida Reserve, N.Y. Published by the Association of Perfectionists. Editor: J. H. Noyes, although not so stated. Volumes 1-2, 1846-1850.
In the last issue of its predecessor (February 14, 1846) the editor said that the next issue would be in a new form on March 15, the name to be Spiritual Magazine.
The first issue commented editorially that in Noyes's previous serial publications the most prominent subject was "the doctrine of perfect holiness" because this was the subject which needed "demonstration and propagation." The policy would be to "review, correct and circulate rather than to rewrite the fundamentals to which the Perfectionist and The Witness have been devoted." In addition to the subject of Perfectionism "other and all regions of spiritual science" would be explored; the dominant note would revolve about the theme, "True spiritual life is the basis and harbinger of all good for the world and for eternity."
As with Noyes's previous publications, the subjects treated were
22 ONEIDA COMMUNITY COLLECTION
generally theological according to his dogmas and beliefs. A few selected subjects and special articles were: "Scandalous quarrel in the Female Moral Reform Society"; general social reforms; notices of conventions of Perfectionists; visit of the Brook Farm Community to the Putney Community; "Cure of disease by faith"; testimonials of persons who had received spiritual help from Noyes's teaching; the Hopedale Fraternal Community; the Moral Reform Society; Noyes's Home Talks; "Testimony of three witnesses in the case of Mrs. Harriet A. Hall. Given at Putney, July 3, 1847"; central New York convention of "believers in holiness"; "Confession of H. J. Seymour of Westmoreland, N.Y."; meetings of social reformers; resolution passed at a convention at Lairdsville, N.Y., August, 1847 in favor of union between "believers at Putney and those in the State of New York"; communication from Rev. H. Eastman, Methodist clergyman at Putney, attacking the Putney Perfectionists' claim to heal, with Noyes's reply; Fourierism, Brook Farm, and Hopedale Communities; poem, "The Reformer" by John G. Whittier; statistics of the Oneida Reserve Association; "Disasters and Successes of Perfectionism"; etc.
The issue of November 23, 1847 stated: "We claim the ancient privilege of Perfectionist editors, of issuing our paper at slightly irregular intervals. As it is not a newspaper, this circumstance will not affect its value or interest to subscribers. Without confining ourselves to exact dates, we shall expect to publish nearly twice a month...."
One of these "slightly irregular intervals" intervened between the above mentioned number and the next-nine months. On August 5, 1848 appeared number 13 and the editors said that the reason for this interval of nine months was a story "too long for the columns of the periodical"; they said that they had removed from Putney to Oneida because of a resolution passed at an "indignation meeting" of the citizens of Putney denouncing the paper as "licentious and requiring an immediate stoppage of the press"; that full explanation would be made in "a work of several hundred pages to be entitled Confessions of John H. Noyes" which would comprise his own personal religious history and a full statement of "the social organization of the kingdom of heaven" and a history of the Putney Community.
(See John Humphrey Noyes; the Putney Community, Oneida, 1931 and Rehgious Experience of John Humphrey Noyes, Oneida, 1923; and Confessions of John H. Noyes Part 1. Confession of Religious Experience; including a history of Modern Perfectionism, Oneida, 1849.)
Subsequent statements amplified the reasons stated for Noyes's removal from Putney to Oneida.
Free Church Circular. Oneida Reserve, N.Y. Editor: J. H. Noyes (although not stated). Volumes 3-4, 1850-1851.
The last issue of Spiritual Magazine made no mention that it would be continued under a new name. However, the above title appeared from Oneida on January 28, 1850 as Volume 3, number 1, and in an editorial note headed "Change of Name" the editors stated that they were introducing "to the acquaintance of the Spiritual Magazine, the spirit and substance of their former visitor, under the new form of Free Church Circular." They added that this was a "nominal alteration," as they considered it a continuation. Several reasons were given for the change, the chief one being that the time had come to emphasize "the free church . . . one free from sin, free from law, free from ordinances and institutions of the world, free from death, etc. etc. . .
The nature of the re-named publication was about the same as its original. A sampling of articles and subjects treated follows: comments on "mysterious noises in Western New York generally received as Spiritual Communications" . "Recollections of my first two days in community life by I. S."; "Home Talks" by J. H. Noyes, continued; "Criticisms"; history of the Free Church movement; testimonies and communications from followers of Noyes; Susan Field's attestation of her confidence in Noyes in spite of the "late effort" of the Rev. H. Eastman; "Inquiries Answered"; announcement of publication of the second annual report of the Oneida Association; editorial statement that "applications from friends abroad, for the admission of children must be refused because the Community cannot increase their responsibility to this department . . ."; religious positions of Seward and Calhoun; "More about Boyle"; comments on Emerson's lectures; "Plans and Prospects-this Association is now completely full"; gift of a power printing press from New York friends; report on the Community's "freighting
24 ONEIDA COMMUNITY COLLECTION
business on the North River"; their Sloop the "Rebecca Ford"; news from Putney Community members; completion of the Com-munity's payment to New York State for "the purchase of land occupied at Oneida"; "The Oneida Indians"; "Fashions at Oneida" (dress reform); news of the Icarian Community; last will and testa-ment of H. and E. H. A. giving all of their estate to "Jesus Christ and his church" and appointing Noyes as executor; departure of Noyes and R. S. De Latre for England; destruction of the printing office by fire; etc.
The Circular. Brooklyn and Oneida, N.Y.; Wallingford, Conn. Edi-tors: J. H. Noyes; the Oneida and Wallingford Communities. Volumes 1-12, 1851-1864. Volumes 1-7, New Series, 1864-1870.
The Oneida Circular. Oneida, N.Y. Published by the Oneida and Wal-lingford Communities; no editor stated. Volumes 8-13,1871-1876.
The last issue of Free Church Circular ("Extra," July 15, 1851) in addition to reporting the fire which destroyed the printing office, stated that there would soon be "a resurrection from the ashes of this fire, in an auspicious time, not very distant, and haply in a new and improved form. . . ." The new form was the Circular, pub-lication of which began on November 6, 1851. In format, the page size was the largest of any of the Community's papers: 16½ inches by 11½ inches.
The first issue stated editorially that the new publication (first published at Brooklyn) was "a continuation of the Free Church Cir-cular, published till recently at Oneida; the Spiritual Magazine, Perfec-tionist, and Witness published through a succession of years at Putney, Vt., and the Perfectionist, published in 1834, at New Haven, Conn. Readers who are acquainted with these periodicals, will need no programme of our principles; and others may as well be left to find us out by trying us. The editor (Noyes) simply begs leave to observe by way of personal introduction, that he returns to his post, after an interval of five years devoted to labor in the details of practical Association, with a consciousness of improved qualifications, and with fresh attraction and devotion to his old calling. . . ." A plea for financial help followed.
The first series of the Circular (1851-1864) passed through twelve yearly volumes, the frequency of publication varying from weekly to tri-weekly.
The "New Series" ran through thirteen volumes. With volume 8 the name was changed to Oneida Circular. The last issue (volume 13, number 10) stated: "With the present number, the Oneida Circular makes its bow and takes a last farewell of its readers. . . ." A pros-pectus of its successor, American Socialist, was included.
Although containing a tremendous number of theological articles-communications, testimonies, etc.-there was an increase in the number of articles touching on national and world affairs. Report-ings of the activities of other utopian and socialistic communities continued and full accounts were given of conventions of Associa-tionists and Perfectionists. The contents of the twenty-five volumes of the two series were so diverse and eclectic that it is impossible to give more data on their contents.
Daily Journal of Oneida Community. Oneida, N.Y. No editor stated. Volumes 1-3, 1866-1867.
The 0. C. Daily. Oneida, N.Y. No editor stated. Volumes 4-5, 1867-1868.
Published from January 14, 1866 through March 28, 1868 these two little serial publications (the pages measuring less than five by four inches) give chatty and delightful accounts of the daily happen-ings at the Community. They report on the various factories and shops; tell of the goings and comings of members and employees; give news of the members at Wallingford and New York; describe visitors who were hospitably received even though they came to criticize; describe conditions of the crops; summarize talks by Noyes and others-all in an informal and unpretentious journalistic style. They give a less serious and austere account of the beliefs, practices, and activities of the Community than those included in the other publications. These were for the "family," the others for the "world." In addition to their value for specific study of Oneida Community, they are important Americana and, we believe, unavailable for study in any other library.
The American Socialist. Oneida, N.Y. No editor stated. Volumes 1-4, 1876-1879.
Beginning publication on March 30, 1876 this serial was a de-scendant of the Oneida Circular, the last issue of which was dated March 9,1876. A prospectus informed that "the aim of this Journal
26 ONEIDA COMMUNITY COLLECTION
will be to make a faithful public record of facts relating to the progress of Socialism every-where" and to afford a means of communication to followers of the theory; that "subordinate attention" would be given to the subjects of Health, Spiritualism and comments on current political issues and book reviews.
Religious matters were discussed much less frequently than in the journal's predecessors. Among the most important features appearing with regularity were letters from correspondents; there were elaborate reports of other communal experiments in the United States.
The issue of May 24, 1877 announced that J. H. Noyes had resigned as president of the Community as he had found "some incompatibility" between the offices of President and Editor. He said that he parted with the Community "in entire harmony" after 36 years of service.
Annual reports of Oneida Community.
First . . . to January 1,1849. 66 p.
Second . . . to February 20, 1850. 31 p.
Third . . . to February 20, 1851. 32 p.
The most important source material for the above years.
Bible communism; a compilation from the annual reports and other publications of the Oneida Association and its branches; presenting in connection with their history, a summary view of their religious and social theories. Brooklyn, N.Y., Office of the Circular, 1853. 128 p.
The editors state that this was issued in lieu of a fourth annual report;
they summarize the data of the first three annual reports supplementing
them with information from the Circular. They employ "the Socratic
machinery of questions and answers"; they say that "Mr. Freechurch,
an imaginary spokesman," will tell readers all they need to know about
the singular doctrines and practices of the communists. The booklet is
dedicated to "Mary of Nazareth, the blessed of all generations.
The Community Quadrangle.
Volume 3, number 4, August, 1928.
Volume 4, number 1, April, 1929.
Volume 5, number 4, October, 1930.
A bi-monthly journal published by employees of Oneida Community Ltd. The articles include a variety of subjects-news of the business, literary contributions, biographical articles about officers of the corporation, news notes of the "family," and verse. Many of the articles were written by "Community people" who had published books and articles in outstanding periodicals-Dorothy Leonard, Edith Kinsley, P. B. Noyes, Constance Noyes Robertson, inter al.
28 ONEIDA COMMUNITY COLLECTION
Faith facts; or, A confession of the kingdom of God and the age of miracles. Edited by George Cragin. Oneida Reserve (Oneida Community) Oneida, N.Y., 1850. 40 p. "Free Church Tracts, number 1."
A collection of articles on perfectionism and the theology of J. H.
Noyes selected from the columns of the Spiritual Magazine and the
Free Church Circular.
A farewell to an old friend. Oneida Ltd., Niagara Falls, Canada, 1938. 10 p.
Published upon the occasion of the collapse of the "Falls View
Bridge" over the Niagara River.
Handbook of the Oneida Community with a sketch of itsfounder and an outline of its constitution and doctrines. Wallingford, Conn., Office of the Circular, 1867. 71 p.
A portion of this consists of an article which appeared in the New
York Tribune, May 1, 1867 based on a special correspondent's report.
In addition to general comments on the Community it includes biographical
material on J. H. Noyes, theories and practices of the Community, outline
of doctrines and "social platform."
Handbook of the Oneida Community; containing a brief sketch of its present condition, internal economy and leading principles. No.2. Oneida Community, Oneida, N.Y., 1871. 64 p.
Includes "externals" (geographical location), buildings, factories,
etc., "internal economy," religious and social principles and
a bibliographical note concerning the pamphlets and books which the Community
published "from time to time."
Handbook of the Oneida Community 1875. Oneida, N.Y. Office of the Circular (1875). 48 p.
Comparable to the 1871 handbook.
Mutual criticism. Oneida, N.Y., Office of the American Socialist. 1876. 96 p.
An explanation of the Community's theory of criticism-"telling a member . . . in regular and formal meeting what is the opinion of his fellows about him-which he or she, of course, ought to receive in silence. Those who cannot bear this ordeal are unfit for community life. . . ." Noyes first made statements concerning this practice in the Congregational Quarterly, April, 1875 in which he acknowledged his indebtedness to the philosophy of Congregation-
alism. Included are several illustrations of the practical application
of criticism (case histories); an explanation of the value of the practice
not only for spiritual and moral effects but also as "a hygienic agency,"
by which an ill person would send for a committee, "in whose faith
and spiritual judgment he has confidence," to visit him with criticism.
This resulted in bringing about "a reaction of his life against disease."
NEWHOUSE, SEWELL. The trapper's guide. . . . Edited by John Humphrey
Noyes. Oneida Community, Kenwood, Madison County, N.Y., c1893 by Oneida
Community. 126 p.
The Oneida Community, 1848-1901. 20 p.
An advertising pamphlet giving an account of the manufacturing activities
of the corporation and a brief account of the Community's successive commercial
projects-farm products, steel traps, canned fruits, sewing and embroidery
silks, silver-plated ware and steel chains. Included is a paragraph on
"Mutual Criticism" which seems to be less austere than was outlined
in the 1876 pamphlet on the subject.
The Oneida Community: a familiar exposition of its ideas and practical life, in a conversation with a visitor. Wallingford, Conn. Office of the Circular, 1865. 32 p.
Published for the reader who sought "more exact information about the Oneida Community than he can get by random reports." This is a succinct and readable account in question-and-answer form of all the aspects of the Community-theories and practices.
The Oneida Community: its business ideals. Published by Oneida
Community Ltd., c1910. 12 p.
Oneida Community. Willow Place Works, Oneida, N.Y. Testimonials. Machine twist manufactured by the Oneida Community. Wallingford, Conn., 1869. 16 p.
A sales promotion pamphlet relative to the silk thread manufactured
by the Community.
Oneida Community Ltd. No date, between 1880-1935.
A salesman's price list of the canned fruits, vegetables, jellies, fruit juices, poultry soups and mince meat prepared and sold by the Community.
30 ONEIDA COMMUNITY COLLECTION
Oneida Ltd. Let's take a look around the friendly place to work. Oneida, N.Y., 1950. 16 p.
An employees' booklet giving "the advantages and aids (to employment)
current at this time."
Oneida Ltd. in wartime. Oneida, N.Y., 1943. 20 p. A sales promotion pamphlet.
Oneida Ltd., formerly Oneida Community Ltd. Annual report to stockholders for the fiscal year ended January 31, 1948.
IN 1860 William Mills and family joined the Community. He disagreed
with the leaders on the matter of relations with women and rebelled against
the ethics of the eugenics system as laid down by John Humphrey Noyes.
He was expelled ("the first and only compulsory expulsion in the history
of the Community"-Parker) . He entered a legal complaint with lawyers
in Syracuse. Settlement of differences was made early in 1865 under terms
which Noyes proposed to him several months earlier. He later removed to
a Western state. Noyes wrote that if the Community should ever be indicted
"for keeping a disorderly house, the principal specification against
us ought to be that we received and harbored for years such a licentious
scoundrel as Mills."
Original autograph letter. John Humphrey Noyes, Oneida, December 28, 1864 to Gerrit Smith, Peterboro, N.Y.
"After our conversation yesterday I regretted that I did not note
more particularly your report of the advice you gave to Mr. Mills
and ask permission to mention it in our paper. As the matter now stands
he has the advantage of apparently carrying on the war against us
with your sanction. This he distinctly claims. Whereas, the truth is that
he is acting in direct opposition to your advice. Have you any objection
to making this known or allowing me to make it known?"
Original autograph letter. William Mills, Oneida Community, January 2, 1864 to Gerrit Smith, Peterboro, N.Y.
Disagrees with Smith that the Community has made him a "liberal
offer"; worked for them "about 5 or 6 months"; his son,
32 ONEIDA COMMUNITY COLLECTION
worked 7 years; all were "oblidged" (sic) to leave; he was
"brutally handled . . . thrown into the snow . . ."; the accounts
of him in the Circular not true; it is reported that Smith is on
the side of the Community and regrets to hear that he believes that the
Community has offered him "liberal compensation."
Original autograph letter. Prof. Thomas Cogswell Upham, Professor of Philosophy and Hebrew, Bowdoin College, to Gerrit Smith, December 23, 1864.
Writing from New York, thanks Smith for copies of his publications;
referring to Oneida Community,". . . Allow me . . . to allude to another
matter, which in its results may be of some importance, viz., the difficulties
which have arisen among the Communists, residing in your neighborhood.
Meeting with some of them recently in this city, they made known to me
the solicitude which they felt; and their great desire, that you might
be led to take a friendly interest in their affairs. I learned that they
had sent some of their members to consult with you. In view of their apparent
conscientiousness, and of their statement that their future prospects would
depend much upon yourself, I ventured to say, that in my opinion they could
rely fully upon your kindness, so far as it might be warranted by the sentiment
of justice. And that I did not believe, that any unpopularity attaching
to them as a sect, would deter you from doing what seemed to you to be
right. I presume you will have a full statement of facts laid before you.
. . .
Original autograph letter. E. H. Hamilton, Oneida Community, January 21, 1865 to Gerrit Smith, Peterboro, N.Y.
Refers to conversation with him about Mills; Mills "is shrewd enough
to appreciate the importance of your influence"; the case is about
to be settled and asks Smith to attempt to influence Mills "to accept
his lawyers' advice to settle"; perhaps he can so inform Mills through
his lawyers "as you no doubt wish to avoid direct communication with
Original autograph letter. E. H. Hamilton to Gerrit Smith, February 23,1865.
The Community wishes to obtain a loan of "about $25,000";
although they can secure it in New York at 7 percent, believe they might
obtain it "in our own County" at lesser rate; if he can ac-
comodate them they can offer good security; in the last issue
of the Circular the reasons are stated as to why they need the loan.
P.S. "We have settled our difficulty with Mills."
Original autograph letter. Victor Faith, Sherburne, N.Y. to Gerrit Smith, August 30, 1866.
Thanks Smith for the "kind and unexpected hospitality" which
Smith showed him when he called; desires to teach school in this village
and asks Smith for a "recommend"; asks him to address him as
"Victor Faith"; has written an article for the Nation about
the Community "which you had better look out for."
Original autograph letter. Victor Cragin Noyes, Wallingford, Conn. to Gerrit Smith, November 7,1867.
May recall that he called on Smith a year ago last August and represented
himself as a son of John H. Noyes and a member of Oneida Community; that
at that time he intended to "renounce his father and the Community
and later take up his fortunes in the world"; since that time he has
been in a mental institution; has been released and wishes to go on record
that he has confidence in his father's principles and in his "personal
character"; that his apostasy was due to his "insanity"
and now rejoices that "God did not let me go so far that he could
not bring me back."
Original autograph letter. Alfred Conkling, Geneseo [N.Y.] to Gerrit Smith, Peterboro, N.Y., July 5, 1871.
Thanks him for loan of pamphlet on Perfectionists; in regard to this "singular sect" believes that "whatever may be the opinion we ought to form of the means they have devised to perfect our race, I can discern no reason to doubt their sincerity and accordingly give them credit for the best intentions. I should like well to visit with you this unique and apparently happy as well as eminently prosperous home. . .
Original autograph letter. Helen C. Noyes to Mrs. Gerrit Smith, July 10,1877.
The so-called "Bloomer costume" was originated by Gerrit Smith's daughter, Elizabeth, later Mrs. Charles D. Miller, as a "house dress." Later, finding it convenient and permitting "freedom of movement," she wore it outside her house and garden. When she visited in Seneca Falls, N.Y., the costume was admired by and ex-
34 ONEIDA COMMUNITY COLLECTION
ploited by the feminist, Amelia Bloomer, and hence the costume was dubbed
"Bloomer costume." The Oneida Community women when working wore
a kind of "pantalette" costume. A portion of the letter reads:
"I return the pattern which you so kindly lent me. The persons to
whom I have described your picturesque costume liked it very much. I am
looking forward with assurance to the time when the pantalette, now worn
with us, will be a thing of the past only. Unity with us is a cardinal
point and so large a body of people cannot turn as easily and quickly as
a smaller one and so the change may not come immediately but I think it
will come. . . ."
Typescript. Lafcadio Hearn. The Oneida Community's announcement. (Editorial in New Orleans Item, September 3,1879.)
ON JANUARY 23, 1879, Prof. John Mears of Hamilton College issued a call for a protest meeting against the Oneida Community to be held at Syracuse University on February 14. He was a leader in inciting public opinion against Oneida and had carried on his protests since 1873. Forty-seven clergymen attended the conference of which the Rev. A. F. Beard was secretary. The meeting was opposed by the local newspapers because of the attempt to suppress publicity concerning the deliberations of the delegates. Puck in its issue of February 26, 1879 published a cartoon showing clergymen pointing at the Community and exclaiming, "Oh, dreadful! They dwell in peace and harmony, and have no church scandals. They must be wiped out!" The American Socialist devoted its issue of February 20, 1879 to the meeting. Noyes in the February 27 issue wrote: "There is an effort in some quarters to push Bishops Huntington ~piscopal] and Peck ~Methodist] and Chancellor Haven, of Syracuse University, to the front, as the originators and chief abettors of the present clerical crusade against the Oneida Community. Nothing could be more unjust to them or more unfair to Professor Mears of Hamilton College, who is the center and soul of the whole movement. . . . Let Professor Mears, therefore, be henceforth regarded as . . . the Peter the Hermit of the present crusade. . .
The student newspapers at Syracuse University discussed the conference
in the following articles:
Syracusan. Volume 1, number 7, March 11, 1879, p. 92.
Letter from John H. Noyes (675 words) to the editor. Dated "Oneida Community, Feb. 17, 1879." Comments on the recent "convention" at Syracuse University to "suppress the Community"; "begs leave to honor" Chancellor Haven for his protests against
36 ONEIDA COMMUNITY COLLECTION
the "destructive language of the protest meeting" and for
advocating "suppression of the immoral practices" rather
than "suppression of the Community."
Same issue, p.96.
The "conference" to consult "on the best means of exterminating
Oneida Community" not an "entire failure," as the local
press stated, for it afforded opportunity for a junior, "displaying
the greatest surface of cheek and brass," though uninvited, to attend
the deliberations; "perhaps, he was in sympathy with the Community."
University Herald. Volume 7, number 5, whole number 75, February 24, 1879, p.53.
The editor censures reporters of the Syracuse newspapers for intruding upon the privacy of the meeting; reminds them that they were not invited and that "the call issued for the meeting was by private invitation."
Volume 8, number 1, whole number 81, October 7, 1879, p.4.
"The measures taken by the council convened at the University with
reference to the Oneida Community have met with unhoped for success. Whether
the change is genuine and springs from reformed principles may be questioned.
It is the opinion of Dr. Beard that, 'when the coon saw Davy Crockett take
aim, he thought it was time to come down.'"
Syracusan. Volume 6, number 11, October 19, 1883, p.23.
"A grave senior wishes to take a co-ed and visit the Oneida Community. Who will accept the invitation?"
CABET, ETIENNE. A brief sketch of Cabet's social and political
life. Navoo, Ill., Icarian Community, 1855.
Eclectic Association of Virginia. Articles of agreement. . . . New York,
Farist Community. Prospectus of an "intended" association.
Monticello, Minn., n.d.
The Free Inquirer. Frances Wright and Robert Dale Owen, conducting editors. New York, N.Y. Volume 2, numbers 1-52. October 31, 1829-October 23, 1830.
Friendship Community. Articles of agreement. . . . Buffalo, Mo., n.d.
Communism: the right and best way to live. Buffalo, Mo., n.d.
GRANT, E. P. Co-operation; or, Sketch of conditions of attractive
industry; and outline of a plan for the organization of labor. With
a notice of the Kansas co-operative farm of M. Ernest V. De Boissiere.
New York, N.Y., 1870.
New Moral World; or, Gazette of the Universal Community Societv of Rational Religionists. Leeds, England.
New Series: numbers 63-86. January 4-June 13, 1840. Third Enlarged Series: volume 1, numbers 1-26. July 4-December 26, 1840; volume 2, numbers 1-26. January 2-June 26, 1841.
North American Phalanx. Socialism and Christianity; being a response
to an inquirer concerning religion and the observance of religious forms
at the North American Phalanx, Monmouth County, New Jersey. Monmouth, NJ.,
Perfectionists, Association of. Putney, Vt. Constitution, n.d. (ca.1835).
The Phalanx: organ of the Doctrine of Association. New York.
I Volume 1, numbers 1-23. October 5, 1843-May 28,1845. Num-
38 ONEIDA COMMUNITY COLLECTION
ber 22, May 3, 1845 announced change of name to Harbinger to be published by Brook Farm Phalanx. Index following issue number 23.
The Harbinger: Devoted to Social and Political Progress. Published by the Brook Farm Phalanx. New York and Boston.
Volume 2, numbers 1-26. December 13, 1845-June 6, 1846. Index at front of volume.
Volume 3, numbers 1-26. June 13, 1846-December 5, 1846. Index at front of volume.
Skaneateles [New York] Community. Community Place, Mottville, Onondaga
County, N.Y. The Communist. John A. Collins, editor. Volume 1, number
6, July 10, 1844, to volume 2, number 29, March 5,1846. Microfilm.
United Christians Community. Constitution. Berea, Ohio, the Community,
WELLS, LESTER GROSVENOR. The Skaneateles Communal Experiment, 7843-7846. Syracuse, N.Y., 1953.
Zion's Redemption Society or the Order of Enoch. Articles of agreement proposed for the organization of a new society. . . . Salt Lake City, Utah, 1874.
Collection of miscellaneous reform serial publications (newspapers, periodicals, journals, etc.) . Largely U.S.A., nineteenth century. Approximately 60 titles, 415 pieces. Exchange copies sent to the editors of the Oneida Community's serial publication, the Circular. The Arents Rare Book Room of the Library has a complete catalog of the titles comprising the collection.
Plate 1: John H. Noyes & View of Oneida Community
Plate 2: The children's hour in the upper sitting-room.
Plate 3: New Mansion of the Oneida Community with adjoining buildings
Plate 4: A Mr. Bilious Briggs...