Oneida community

Variant names

Hide Profile

The Oneida Community was a utopian commune founded by John Humphrey Noyes in 1848 in the town of Oneida in Madison County, New York. Noyes, born in Vermont in 1811, attended Dartmouth College, Andover Theological Seminary, and Yale Theological College and received his license to preach in 1834. He formed his first utopian community in 1836 in Putney, Vermont, practicing "complex marriage" in which every male was considered married to every female. In 1847 pending arrests for adultery spurred Noyes and several other Putney members to move to Oneida, New York, where they established the Oneida Community.

The Oneida community practiced communal property and possessions and believed in a form of Perfectionism -- Christ's Second Coming had occurred in the year 70 CE thus making it possible for them to bring about Christ's millennial kingdom and be free of sin and perfect in this world. (Noyes' declaration in 1834 that he himself was "Perfected" had resulted in the revocation of his license to preach.) To help members overcome character defects, all members -- including Noyes himself -- were subject to formal constructive criticism by committee, or by the community as a whole, a practice known as "mutual criticism."

As in Putney, the community rejected monogamy and practiced complex marriage. Noyes believed that sex had social and spiritual elements; members were expected to improve themselves via sexual relations with those who were their spiritual superiors. Noyes frequently suggested or encouraged particular pairings, and beginning in 1869 members who wished to have children could do so only with the partner selected for them by a committee based on personal, spiritual, and moral qualities (such controlled reproduction is known as "stirpiculture").

The community was self-supporting, primarily through the sale of animal traps, silk thread, and vegetables. (Silverware, for which the Oneida name would become well-known, was not produced until 1877.) Men and women were expected to work equally and had equal voice in community governance. At its height in 1878 the community had 306 members, but the community faltered the next year when Noyes attempt to pass on leadership of the community to his son, Theodore Noyes. By 1880 some members had left, many had embarked upon traditional marriages, and the community itself had been reorganized as a joint-stock company named Oneida Community Ltd. The animal trap, silk thread, and canned vegetable enterprises were all abandoned or sold off by 1916 but Oneida Community Ltd. became well-known for its silver and cutlery, production of which continued until 2005.

From the guide to the Oneida Community Collection, 1811-1983, 1850-1900, (Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn McGee, Anita Newcomb, 1864-1940. Papers of Anita Newcomb McGee, 1688-1932. Library of Congress
referencedIn Elizabeth Trout Papers, 1954-1962 Syracuse University. Library. Special Collections Research Center
referencedIn Morse, James Herbert, b. 1841. Diaries, 1866-1911. Churchill County Museum
referencedIn Macdonald, A. J., (d.1854). A. J. MacDonald collection of utopian materials, ca. 1840-1865. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Riley, William Harrison, 1835-1907. William Harrison Riley papers, 1844-1899 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Olin, Spencer C. Spencer C. Olin papers, 1944-2006, bulk 1966-2006. University of California, Irvine. Library. Department of Special Collections
referencedIn Edwards, Walter W.,. Walter W. Edwards collection, 1855-1876. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Macknet, Mrs., 1809-1860. Diary and spiritual autobiography, [ca. 1851-1860]. Buffalo History Museum, Research Library
creatorOf American Ring Company. Trade catalogs of silverware, 1891-1935. University of California, Santa Barbara, UCSB Library
referencedIn Constance Pierrepont Noyes Robertson Papers, 1837-1972 Syracuse University. Library. Special Collections Research Center
referencedIn P. Geoffrey Noyes Papers, 1774-2005, 1930-1970 Syracuse University. Library. Special Collections Research Center
referencedIn Prudence Wayland-Smith Papers, 1925-1994 Syracuse University. Library. Special Collections Research Center
referencedIn Carl Carmer Correspondence, 1935-1942 Syracuse University. Library. Special Collections Research Center
referencedIn Soo Hardware Company. Inbound correspondence, 1911-1918. Hagley Museum & Library
referencedIn Chamberlain, Samuel, 1895-1975. Oneida Community photograph collection, 1845-1982. New York State Historical Documents
referencedIn A. J. MacDonald collection of utopian materials, ca. 1840-1865 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Margaret Noyes Goldsmith Papers, 1849-1991, 1875-1950 Syracuse University. Library. Special Collections Research Center
referencedIn Riley, William Harrison, 1835-1907. William Harrison Riley papers, 1844-1899 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Anita Newcomb McGee Papers, 1688-1932, (bulk 1869-1932) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Oneida Community Collection, 1811-1983, 1850-1900 Syracuse University. Library. Special Collections Research Center
referencedIn The John Noyes collection. Wichita State University, Ablah Library
referencedIn Nash, Evan Rupert. Evan Rupert Nash papers, 1827-1945. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Spencer C. Olin papers, 1944-2006, bulk 1966-2006 University of California, Irvine. Library. Department of Special Collections
referencedIn Mears, John W. (John William), 1825-1881. Oneida Community box, 1868, 1873-1880. New-York Historical Society
creatorOf Oneida Community Collection, 1811-1983, 1850-1900 Syracuse University. Library. Special Collections Research Center
referencedIn Foster, Amos, 1797-1884. A history of the Congregational Church of Putney, Vermont, May 1868. Vermont Historical Society
referencedIn George Cragin Manuscript, before 1915 Syracuse University. Library. Special Collections Research Center
referencedIn William A. Hinds Photograph Album, circa 1865 Syracuse University. Library. Special Collections Research Center
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Barron, Alfred. person
associatedWith Carmer, Carl Lamson, 1893-1976 person
associatedWith Cragin, George, 1808-1884 person
associatedWith Cragin, George E. person
associatedWith Edwards, Walter W., person
associatedWith Goldsmith, Margaret Noyes. person
associatedWith Guiteau, Charles Julius, 1841-1882 person
associatedWith Hamilton, Erastus Hapgood, 1821-1894 person
associatedWith Hendee, Beulah Foster (Barron), 1847-1903 person
associatedWith Herrick, James Burton, 1837-1912 person
associatedWith Hinds, William Alfred, 1833-1910 person
associatedWith Hobart, Ann S. Bailey (Skinner), 1846-1908 person
associatedWith Kelly, Annie E. (Miller), 1852-1931 person
associatedWith Kinsley, Jessie Hatch, 1858-1938 person
associatedWith Leonard, Charlotte Miller, 1846-1928 person
associatedWith Leonard, Stephen Rose, 1820-1892 person
associatedWith Macdonald, A. J., (d.1854) person
associatedWith Macknet, Mrs., 1809-1860. person
associatedWith McGee, Anita Newcomb, 1864-1940. person
associatedWith Mears, John W. (John William), 1825-1881. person
associatedWith Miller, Charlotte A. Noyes, 1819-1874 person
associatedWith Miller, George Noyes, 1845-1904 person
associatedWith Miller, Helen Campbell (Barron), 1847-1932 person
associatedWith Miller, Tirzah Crawford (Herrick), 1843-1902 person
associatedWith Morse, James Herbert, b. 1841. person
associatedWith Nash, Evan Rupert. person
associatedWith Nash, Seymour, 1814-1881 person
associatedWith Newhouse, Milford James, 1847-1926 person
associatedWith Noyes, George Wallingford. person
associatedWith Noyes, George Washington, 1822-1870 person
associatedWith Noyes, Harriet Ann Holton, 1808-1895 person
associatedWith Noyes, John Humphrey, 1811-1886 person
associatedWith Noyes, P. Geoffrey. person
associatedWith Noyes, Pierrepont, b. 1870 person
associatedWith Noyes, Theodore Richards, 1841-1903 person
associatedWith Olin, Spencer C. person
associatedWith Oneida Community, ltd. corporateBody
associatedWith Oneida, ltd. corporateBody
associatedWith Putney Community (Putney, Vt.) corporateBody
associatedWith Riley, William Harrison, 1835-1907. person
associatedWith Robertson, Constance Noyes person
associatedWith Skinner, Harriet H. Noyes, 1817-1893 person
associatedWith Skinner, John Langdon, 1803-1889 person
associatedWith Skinner, Joseph John, 1842-1919 person
associatedWith Skinner, Theodore Hobart, 1878-1944 person
associatedWith Soo Hardware Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Towner, James William, 1823-1913 person
associatedWith Trout, Elizabeth. person
associatedWith Wallingford Community. corporateBody
associatedWith Wayland-Smith, Francis, 1841-1911 person
associatedWith Wayland-Smith, Prudence. person
associatedWith Worden, Cornelia, 1847-1928 person
associatedWith Worden, Harriet Maria, 1840-1891 person
associatedWith Worden, Marquis de LaFayette, 1813-1891 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Subject
Religion and philosophy
Utopias
Christian communities--United States
Eugenics--United States
Collective settlements--United States
Perfection--Religious aspects--Christianity
New York State
Activism and social reform
Occupation
Function

Corporate Body

Active 1891

Active 1935

Information

Permalink: http://n2t.net/ark:/99166/w6jm74xd

Ark ID: w6jm74xd

SNAC ID: 14314795