Shaker Studies

These are monographs devoted to the study of the Shakers. This series complements two other offerings from the Couper Press: The American Communal Societies Quarterly and the American Communal Societies series.

To purchase items, contact Mark Tillson, 315-859-4705, mtillson@hamilton.edu.

Shaker Studies, No. 13
The Last Shaker Apostate: Augustus Wager and Union Village, Ohio
by Thomas SakmysterShaker Studies 13

153 p. ISBN: 978-1-937370-25-1 ($20)

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For some time there has been a consensus among scholars that the last substantial Shaker apostate account was that of Hervey Elkins, which appeared in 1853. In this book Professor Tom Sakmyster provides an analysis of a previously unknown apostate account written by Augustus Wager in 1872, shortly after he left Union Village, the Shaker society located near Lebanon, Ohio. Wager, who had lived for fourteen years at Union Village, was embittered by his experiences as a Shaker and determined to destroy the increasingly favorable public image of the Shakers, which he believed was based on ignorance and misconceptions. He wanted to alert Americans to the darker aspects of Shaker life and the fact that Shakerism was in its death throes. Wager's apostate account, which appeared as a series of articles in a Cincinnati newspaper, is reprinted in this book. The account throws important new light on everyday life and economic activity in a Western Shaker village during the period of decline in the post-Civil War era.

Shaker Studies, No. 12
History of the Shakers at New Lebanon by Isaac Newton Youngs, 1780-1861
edited by Glendyne R. Wergland and Christian GoodwillieHistory of the Shakers at New Lebanon by Isaac Newton Youngs, 1780-1861

277 p. ISBN: 978-1-937370-22-0 ($40)

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Shaker Brother Isaac Newton Youngs served his community at New Lebanon, New York, as a tailor, clockmaker, mapmaker, mechanic, inventor, musician and hymn writer, lens-grinder, stonecutter, button maker, bookkeeper, journalist, tinsmith, printer, pipe fitter, joiner, and blacksmith. He built a sundial, made tools including a weaver’s reed, turned clothespins, made knitting needles, and laid floors. He was also an architect and roofer. Few aspects of life at New Lebanon were outside of Youngs’s sphere of activity. Therefore, it is fitting that he undertook to write a comprehensive history of his community, systematically treating all facets of Shaker life and culture. Youngs’s A Concise View Of the Church of God and of Christ, On Earth is printed here for the first time in unabridged form. The editors have carefully transcribed and annotated the text, and have selected illustrations to complement Youngs’s descriptive text.  Additionally, appendices supplying vital statistics,  and information on the occupations of New Lebanon Shakers (many of which were compiled by Youngs) are included. Finally, a selection of Youngs’s poetry rounds out a rich portrait of the lives and talents of Brother Isaac Newton Youngs, and his beloved Shaker brethren and sisters, as they labored humbly in the creation of a unique world where work was worship, and heaven was all around them.

SS 11Shaker Studies, No. 11
Seeking Robert White: Quaker, Shaker, Husband, Father
by Sandra A. Soule, 428 pp., illustrations (some color)

Paperback binding, 23 cm., 2016. ISBN: 978-1-937370-18-3 ($35)

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Robert White's spiritual journey eventually led him to the Shakers, but, much to his dismay, his wife did not share his views and remained committed to Quakerism. As a married, celibate Believer, Robert White had to balance the often-conflicting roles he played in his two families, natural and Shaker. How he functioned as a Shaker convert living "in the world" is a story of faith and challenges; an exceptional Shaker experience in the mid-nineteenth century.

SS 10Shaker Studies, No. 10
Picturing the Shakers in the Era of Manifestations
by Robert P. Emlen

69 pp., with 44 illustrations, paperback binding, 28 cm., 2015. ISBN: 978-1-937370-16-9 ($25)

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The collection assembles for the first time the rich body of visual images depicting the Shakers during the Era of Manifestations.

The Shakers of White Water, Ohio, 1823-1916Shaker Studies, No. 9
The Shakers of White Water, Ohio, 1823-1916
edited by James R. Innis, Jr., and Thomas Sakmyster

311 pp., with 90 b/w illustrations, 22 music scores, 9 poems, and 9 maps, paperback binding, 26 cm., 2014. ISBN: 978-1-937370-12-1 ($30)

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This work is a comprehensive examination of the history and life of White Water Village by leading experts on the community. As an offshoot of Union Village, the “mother” of Ohio Shaker communities, White Water has received scant attention in the past. This work rectifies the situation and serves as an example of what should be done for all of the Shaker communities.

Shaker Cut-and-Fold BookletsShaker Studies, No. 8
Shaker Cut-and-Fold Booklets: Unfolding the Gift Drawings of Emily Babcock
by Sandra A. Soule

97 pages, illustrations, 28 cm., 2014. ISBN: 978-1-937370-10-7 ($35)

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Stark images and inspired messages appear in Shaker cut-and-fold booklets, one of the more unusual forms of gift drawings created in the early 1840s during the Shakers' internal revival known as Mother's Work. This study unfolds some of the puzzling aspects of these heavenly communications. The Shaker concept of union is embodied in the mysteriously decorated, interleaved sheets bearing prophetic spiritual messages. New findings about the visionary activities of Emily Babcock point to her as the instrument of these uniquely constructed gift drawings. This volume features full color facsimiles of a number of examples.

The Shaker Spiritual Notices of Eleanor PotterShaker Studies, No. 7
The Shaker Spiritual Notices of Eleanor Potter

by Jane F. Crosthwaite, 45 pages, illustrations, 31 cm., 2013. ISBN:  978-1-937370-09-1 ($30)

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Reproduces four sixteen-page manuscript books by Eleanor Potter which record her spirit messages for the leaders of the Shaker Ministry. These manuscripts include spirit drawings as well as text. Crosthwaite provides an introductory essay setting the context for the messages and an analysis of them.

Tyringham ShakersShaker Studies, No. 6
Tyringham Shakers
by Stephen J. Paterwic

142 pages, illustrations, 23 cm., 2013. ISBN: 978-1-937370-08-4 ($20)

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A compilation of essays and statistical information on the Tyringham Shakers, by one the leading scholars on that community. It is the largest compilation of information on Tyringham in one source. It includes a series of rare of photographs of the village.

SShaker haker Studies, No. 5
Shaker "Great Barns" 1820s-1880s: Evolution of Shaker Dairy Barn Design and Its Relation to the Agricultural Press
by Lauren A. Stiles

188 pages, illustrations, 26 cm., 2013. ISBN: 978-1-937370-07-7 ($20)

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Shaker leaders built big dairy barns, sent articles and barn diagrams to the specialized agricultural press, and hosted editors and writers on barn tours. This richly illustrated book explores the unexpected relationship between nineteenth century Shaker religious leaders and scientific agricultural journalists.

The Collected Writings of Henry CumingsShaker Studies, No. 4
The Collected Writings of Henry Cumings (1834-1913): Shaker Elder and Citizen of Enfield, New Hampshire

Compiled with introduction by Mary Ann Haagen, 259 p. , ill., 21 cm., 2012. ISBN: 978-1-937370-02-2 ($20)

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Henry Cumings was ten years old when he and his family joined the Enfield, New Hampshire, Shakers in 1845. Capable and intelligent, he was entrusted with increasing leadership responsibilities as he came of age. For twenty years he served as one of the Society's most eloquent spokespersons for a Shaker way of life. In 1881, at the age of forty-five, Cuming reappraised his commitment to Shakerism and left the community. He did not, however, repudiate his Shaker heritage. Between 1904 and 1913 he wrote a series of historical essays for the local newspaper, the Enfield Advocate, in which he shared his personal reflections on Shakerism. Collected here for the first time, this volume of Henry Cumings' writings offers the reader a lively and detailed account of the Shaker community he knew so well, and its influence on the town of Enfield, New Hampshire.

Shaker Studies, No. 3
Partake a Little Morsel: Popular Shaker Hymns of the Nineteenth Century

by Carol Medlicott, 89 p. , ill., music, 26 cm., 2011. ISBN: 978-1-937370-00-8 ($15)

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Among the various forms of Shaker song, hymns have sustained the worship of the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing — or Shakers — for over two hundred years. Distinguished from other song types by their lengthy texts of metrical rhymed poetry, hymns can accommodate an endless range of theological and spiritual ideas. During the nineteenth century, Shakers produced hundreds of individual hymns, which were recorded by countless individual Shakers in myriad manuscript hymn books. Yet from this enormous body of hymnody, a core group of hymns readily emerges — hymns that were used and beloved for decades across the Shaker world, from Maine to Kentucky. Remarkably, the hymns in this core group are virtually unknown today. This study helps today’s reader to “partake a little morsel” of a relatively untapped vein of American folk hymnody, revealing a fresh understanding of the Shakers’ amazing complexity and vitality.

Shaker Studies, No. 2
Independency of the Mind: Aquila Massie Bolton, Poetry, Shakerism, and Controversy
by Sandra A. Soule

105 pages, 2010. ISBN: 978-0-9796448-6-3 ($10)

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This work traces the spiritual journey and accomplishments of Aquila Massie Bolton who had joined the Shakers at Union Village, Ohio after twenty-five years of spiritual seeking. His poetry praised Shakerism, but in time, he challenged the beliefs of Shaker leaders, which inevitably led to controversy and his apostasy. Soule's careful analysis sheds light on the struggles of Bolton to find a spiritual home and on how the Shakers responded to the challenges he raised to their theology and leadership.


SSpreading the Light of the Gospelhaker Studies, No. 1
Robert White Jr. "Spreading the Light of the Gospel"
By Sandra A. Soule

79 pages with 32 black and white illustrations, 2009. ISBN: 978-0-9796448-4-9 ($9)

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In this work, Robert White Jr.: "Spreading the Light of the Gospel," Sandra Soule provides a detailed examination of the role Robert White Jr. played in spreading and defending the Shaker message. His activities ranged from persuading the Shaker leadership to publish certain important works, to funding their publication, and actively taking part in their distribution. Although White toiled tirelessly to advance the cause of Shakerism in the mid-nineteenth century, little has been written about him and his endeavors in the area of Shaker publication. Soule fills that void with her meticulous research based on Shaker manuscript records.

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