Richard W. Couper Press

Hamilton College Library

American Communal Societies Series

This monographic series is devoted to the study of American communal societies past and present, including the Shakers, Harmonists, Oneida Community, Amana, House of David, and others. The publications are peer-reviewed, scholarly works including new scholarship in the field as well as critical editions of important historical works. One or two works will be published each year.

Inquiries about, and submissions to, the American Communal Societies Series should be sent to Randall Ericson, rericson@hamilton.edu.

To purchase books in this series, contact Mark Tillson, 315-859-4705, mtillson@hamilton.edu.

Series Editorial Board

Walter A. Brumm, Hamilton College
Jane Crosthwaite, Mount Holyoke College
Elizabeth A. De Wolfe, University of New England
Scott De Wolfe, Alfred, Maine
Randall L. Ericson, Hamilton College
Christian Goodwillie, Hamilton College
Etta Madden, Missouri State University
David D. Newell, Ashfield, Massachusetts


ACSS, no. 10   Buy NowACSS-10

A Descriptive Bibliography of Imprints from the Israelite House of David and Mary's City of David, 1902-2010, by Henry M. Yaple.  (ACSS, no. 10) 457 pp., with 93 color illustrations, paperback binding.2014. ISBN: 978-1-937370-13-8 ($75)


A comprehensive illustrated bibliography of the printed literature issued by the two Michigan communities famous for their bearded baseball teams!

ACSS, no. 9   Buy NowACSS-9b

The Worthy Virgins: Mary Purnell and her City of David, by Julieanna Frost.  (ACSS, no. 9) 161 pp., with 19 b/w illustrations, paperback binding, 2014. ISBN: 978-1-937370-14-5 ($15)


The first biography of Mary Purnell who along with her husband Benjamin, led the Israelite House of David in Benton Harbor, Michigan. Mary later formed her own community, Mary's City of David. Both communities are functioning today. The communities are best known for their bearded baseball teams, but, as Frost's book shows, they were only a small part of the story.


ACSS, no. 9   Buy NowEncyclopedic Guide to American Intentional Communties

The Encyclopedic Guide to American Intentional Communities, by Timothy Miller.  (ACSS, no. 9) 586 pages, 2013. ISBN: 978-1-937370-05-3 ($75)

Commune! The word conjures up images of a few isolated idealists, religious fanatics, and social misfits. A commune is a decidedly marginal blip on the American landscape. Nevertheless communes have studded American history -- many thousands of them from the seventeenth century to the present. Although many have heard of the Shakers and (perhaps) the Hutterites and the Harmonists, communes -- most of which now prefer to be known as intentional communities -- represent a largely hidden slice of American history, despite the fact that they have been home to over a million Americans. Many small studies and surveys of American communal movements have been published over the last two hundred years, but the phenomenon of communal living in its fullness remains largely in the shadows. This work has been compiled to dispel those shadows by providing brief sketches of as many American intentional communities as I have been able to identify from the early days of European colonization down to the present [approximately 3,000]. The work also seeks to provide a few reliable references to primary and secondary sources of information on each community. — From the Introduction.

About the author:
Timothy Miller is a Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Kansas. He studies new religious movements in the United States, with a special focus on groups in the past and present that practice communal living.

ACSS, no. 8    Buy Now John Humphrey Noyes on Sexual Relations in teh Oneida Community

John Humphrey Noyes on Sexual Relations in the Oneida Community: Four Essential Texts, edited with Introductions by Anthony Wonderley.  (ACSS, no. 8) 165 pages,  ill. ; 23 cm., 2012. ISBN: 978-1-937370-04-6 ($20)

At the height of the prudish Victorian age, the utopian Oneida Community (1848-1880) openly practiced group marriage which, it was said, freed women from unwanted pregnancy, marital bondage, and household drudgery. This radically successful social experiment was based on the teachings of the commune's leader, John Humphrey Noyes, whose key writings on gender relations are assembled here for the first time.

About the author:
Anthony Wonderley is curator of collections and interpretation at the Oneida Community Mansion House, the museum of the famous nineteenth-century utopia in upstate New York.

ACSS, no. 7    Buy Now

A Promising Venture: Shaker Photographs from the WPA, by Lesley Herzberg.  (ACSS, no. 7) 239 pages with 214 black and white illustrations, 2012. ISBN: 978-1-937370-03-9 ($30)

In 1936 the Index of American Design commissioned photographer Noel Vincentini to photograph the Shaker villages of Mount Lebanon, Hancock, and Watervliet. This book presents the 206 pictures taken by Vincentini. The identifications Vincentini provided were often erroneous. Edward and Faith Andrews, who were employed by the Index to work with Vincentini, corrected many of the identifications, but even those were incomplete. This book presents the complete set of photographs for the first time and with corrected identifications. An introduction by Lesley Herzberg, curator of collections at Hancock Shaker Village, describes the tumultuous series of events that surrounded the production of these images. The book is a companion to an exhibit at Hancock Shaker Village.

About the author:
Lesley Herzberg is curator of collections at Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

ACSS, no. 6    Buy Now

The Shakers through French Eyes

The Shakers through French Eyes, by E. Richard McKinstry.  (ACSS, no. 6) 212 pages, 2011. ISBN: 978-1-937370-01-5 ($20)

The Shakers through French Eyes contains fourteen essays by thirteen authors originally written in French about the Shaker religious sect. Translated into English and presented in chronological order, the essays cover a wide range of topics, each author writing within the context of his or her own background and interests. For example, Henri-Baptiste Gregoire wrote as a learned theologian, while Marie Therese de Solms Blanc, wrote as a woman of letters and a critic. Some authors simply recorded facts about the Shakers as they understood them, and others penned thoughtful observations and analyses. One essay is more than 15,000 words long; some are less than 1,000 words. The essays add to the ever-growing bibliography on Shakerism, which began three centuries ago with reports in the Manchester, England, press about how Shaker leader Ann Lee and her followers challenged the culture and conventional religious practice of their time. Each essay, important in its own right, should be of interest to those already acquainted with or new to the Shakers.

About the author:
E. Richard McKinstry is Library Director and Andrew W. Mellon Senior Librarian at the H.F. du Pont Winterthur Museum. McKinstry has written four books describing the Winterthur library's holdings, including The Edward Deming Andrews Memorial Shaker Collection, articles on bibliographical topics, a newspaper column on ephemera, and a number of book reviews.

ACSS, no. 5   Buy Now

The Days of My Youth: a Childhood Memoir of Life in the Oneida Community, by Corinna Ackley Noyes.  (ACSS, no. 5) 106 pages, 2011. ISBN: 978-0-9796448-9-4 (20)

"The Days of My Youth is a memoir of childhood in the utopian Oneida Community that limns the past with loving acuity. In successfully conveying what it felt like being a young girl there, it is an important souce of information about one of the longest-lasting and most successful ventures in utopian living in American history." (Anthony Wonderley, Curator, Oneida Community Mansion House) This intimate memoir is made available for a third printing through the tireless efforts of Jessie Mayer who compared every word of the transcript to the original.

ACSS, no. 4   (Out of Stock)

Demographic Directory of the Harmony Society, compiled by Eileen Aiken English. (ACSS, no. 4) 361 pages with 106 black and white illustrations + 1 folder map, 2011. ISBN: 978-0-9796448-8-7 ($50)

This work "dramatically expands our demographic knowledge of one of America's most important communal utopian movements, the Harmony Society of George Rapp. This volume offers an indispensable resource for scholars, descendants, and those who interpret the Harmony Society for the public at its three historic towns of Harmony and Old Economy village in Pennsylvania and New Harmony, Indiana." (Donald E. Pitzer)

About the author:
Eileen Aiken English is a volunteer researcher and historical interpreter at Old Economy Village. Her study of the Harmony Society began fourteen years ago, when she retired from the faculty of California University of Pennsylvania.

ACSS, no. 3   Buy Now

A Bruised Idealist: David Lamson, Hopedale, and the Shakers, by Peter Hoehnle. (ACSS, no. 3) 280 pages with 15 black and white illustrations, 2010. ISBN: 978-0-9796448-7-0 ($25)

In 1848, David R. Lamson, published his account of the Hancock Shaker Village community, Two Years' Experience Among the Shakers. Although written by a man who had turned against the Shaker community in which he had once lived, Lamson's book presents accurate detail about life in a community at the height of the Shaker movment. This reprinting of Lamson's classic account includes a biographical essay about this enigmatic Jacksonian Era reformer and his experiences. Also, it collects for the first time the entire corpus of his writing from the time of his membership in the Hopedale Community. Frequently referenced by Shaker scholars, Lamson has, until now, remained in the shadows; the present work brings the contradictory figure of David Rich lamson in the light.

About the author:
Peter Hoehnle received his Ph.D. in Agricultural History and Rural Studies from Iowa State University. He serves as the project manager for the Iowa Valley Resource, Conservation and Development Council in Amana, Iowa and is a longtime member of the Board of the Communal Studies Association.

ACSS, no. 2   Buy Now

Visiting the Shakers, 1850-1899: Watervliet, Hancock, Tyringham, New Lebanon, edited by Glendyne R. Wergland. (ACSS, no. 2) 456 pages with 45 black and white illustrations, 2010. ISBN: 978-0-9796448-5-6 ($35)

This is a companion volume to her earlier work published by the Coupter Press in 2007, which covered 1788-1849. This volume is a compilation of eighty-five accounts written by visitors to four Shaker villages. These two volumes will have enduring value for historians of the Shakers and American culture in general.

ACSS, no. 1   Buy Now

Visiting the Shakers, 1778-1849: Watervliet, Hancock, Tyringham, New Lebanon, edited by Glendyne Wergland. (ACSS, no. 1) 382 pages with 15 black and white illustrations, 2007. ISBN: 978-0-9796448-0-1 ($35)

Visiting the Shakers is a compilation of ninety-eight accounts written by visitors to four Shaker villages. According to the preface by Elizabeth De Wolfe, "This volume gathers together these period observations, ranging from short diary entries to lengthy periodical articles. The majority of these sources have not been seen in print for more than 150 years. An award-winning independent scholar, Wergland guides the contemporary reader through the phenomenon of 'visiting the Shakers,' providing the social and historical context for the praise and criticism offered by these numerous and diverse visitors."

About the author:
Glendyne Wergland grew up in the Southwest and spent her twenties as the trailing spouse of an engineer who moved nine times in eight years. After they settled in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, she "met" the Shakers through volunteer work at Hancock Shaker Village. Returning to school at age forty, she pursued her interest in the Shakers at Mount Holyoke College, where she graduated with honors before going to University of Massachusetts Amherst for her PhD. Her book, One Shaker Life: Isaac Newton Youngs, 1793-1865, won the Communal Studies Association's Outstanding Publication Award in 2006. Wergland's current work on Shaker sisters examines the difficulties and rewards of nineteenth century communal life.