The Shaker Experience in America: A History of the United Society of Believers

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Yale University Press, Jan 1, 1992 - Religion - 554 pages
2 Reviews
The Shakers, once a radical religious sect whose members were despised and harassed by their fellow Americans, have in recent years become celebrated--and sentimentalized--for their communal way of life, the simplicity of their worship, their belief in celibacy, pacifism, and equality of the sexes, and not least their superb furniture and handicrafts. This monumental book is the first general history of the Shakers from their origins in eighteenth-century England to the present day.
Drawing on written and oral testimony by Shakers over the past two centuries, Stephen J. Stein offers a full and often revisionist account of the movement: their charismatic leaders, the early years in revolutionary New York and New England, the expansion into the West, the maturation and growth of the sect before the Civil War, the decline in their fortunes after the war, the painful adjustments to society Shakers had to make during the first half of the twentieth century, the renaissance of interest after 1950, and the "forbidden topic" within contemporary Shakerism--the conflict between the two remaining villages at Canterbury, New Hampshire, and Sabbathday Lake, Maine. Stein provides many new interpretations of the Shaker experience. He reassesses the role of founder Ann Lee, emphasizes the impact of the western Shaker settlements on the course of the society's history, and describes the variety of cultural enterprises that have obscured the religious and historical dimensions of the Shakers. Throughout Stein places the Shaker experience within the wider context of American life and shows how the movement has evolved to deal with changing times. Shattering the romantic myth that has been perpetuated about the quaint and peaceful Shakers, Stein portrays a group that is factious, practical, and fully human.
  

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The Shaker experience in America: a history of the United Society of Believers

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

The first book to cover all Shakerdom from the 1700s to the 1980s, this work of scholarship will also prove accessible to the nonspecialist. Stein (religious studies, Indiana Univ.) offers a ... Read full review

Review: The Shaker Experience in America: A History of the United Society of Believers

User Review  - Deborah Escobar - Goodreads

This is definitely a scholarly work, but very informative and covers the entire length of Shaker existence. I learned a great deal. Read full review

Contents

The Age of the Founders 17471787
1
The Establishment of the United Society 17871826
39
The Maturation and Revitalization of the Society 18271875
119
The Transformation of the Society 18761947
239
The Rebirth of Shakerism 1948 to the Present
355
Abbreviations
443
Notes
445
Suggestions for Further Reading
521
Index
525
Copyright

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About the author (1992)

Stephen J. Stein (born March 22, 1940) holds the Ph.D. from Yale University. He has served as Chair of the Department of Religious Studies and also as Director of the American Studies Program at Indiana University where he taught for 35 years. He retired in May 2005. He was named Chancellor's Professor in 1995. In 1994 he was the President of the American Society of Church History. In 1995 he was the recipient of the Tracy Sonneborn Award for Excellence in Teaching and Research. He has been the recipient of numerous grants, including two research fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities. He is the editor of three volumes in the Yale Edition of The Works of Jonathan Edwards: Apocalyptic Writings (1977), Notes on Scripture (1998), and The 'Blank Bible' (forthcoming 2006). His volume, The Shaker Experience in America: A History of the United Society of Believers (Yale Press, 1992) was awarded the Philip Schaff Prize by the American Society of Church History. His research interests have focused heavily on eighteenth-century colonial American religious history, but his research publications also span the broad topic of apocalyptic and millennial studies as well as the study of New Religious Movements. He has published articles in such journals as Church History, Harvard Theological Review, William and Mary Quarterly, New England Quarterly, Early American Literature, Filson Club History Quarterly, Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, Journal of the Early Republic, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Communal Societies, American Quarterly, Religion and American Culture, etc., etc.. Stein's volume on the Shakers is widely regarded as the definitive history of that religious community; it spans more than two centuries of Shaker experience. His editorial work with the Edwards Edition has opened an area of scholarship, namely, Edwards's biblical writings, that had received very little scholarly attention prior to his work. His years

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