The Shakers

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The Shakers, a religious sect that branched off from the Quakers in the 18th century, had a presence in Ohio and notably had women in leadership roles.

Images

Shaker Sister photograph

Shaker Sister photograph

Portrait of an unidentified Shaker woman, ca. 1880-1899. She is wearing the typical dress of women who were members of the religious sect. The Shakers were a religious group spread throughout Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Georgia, and Florida. They believed in celibacy, community, equality of the sexes, simplicity, and humility. The men were referred to as "brothers" and the women "sisters." | Source: OhioMemory.org View File Details Page

Shakers dancing illustration

Shakers dancing illustration

Illustration of Shakers dancing in Warren County, Ohio, from "Historical Collections of Ohio" by Henry Howe, 1847. The Shakers are a Christian religious group that originated in Great Britain ca. 1750, originally known as Shaking Quakers because they commonly trembled in religious fervor during their services. Shakers arrived in America during the 1770s, and reached Ohio in 1805. They established several communities in the state, but the most successful ones were at Lebanon and North Union (modern-day Shaker Heights). By 1846, more than four hundred Shakers called Lebanon home. The Shakers established typical communities in Ohio, making productive livings from their orchards, livestock, and other farming activities, as well as from their furniture-making endeavors. By 1900, Ohio's Shakers had virtually disappeared, mainly due to the lack of new converts. As their numbers declined, many Ohio Shakers moved to Shaker communities in other states. | Source: OhioMemory.org View File Details Page

Tree of Heaven drawing

Tree of Heaven drawing

Tree of Heaven drawing by James Mott, a member of the Shaker community at North Union, Ohio, 1848. The drawing consists of a geometric design with extensive handwritten detailing. | Source: OhioMemory.org View File Details Page

Wisdom's Valley Shaker Hymn

Wisdom's Valley Shaker Hymn

Elisha Russell of the North Union Shaker community, composed this hymn titled "The Wisdom's Valley" in 1845. Both music and lyrics are included. The hymn is two pages and measures 8" x 12.5" (20.32 x 31.75 cm). It is part of a larger collection of materials relating to Shakers in Ohio. North Union was founded in 1822 after Ralph Russell, the son of a local farmer, experienced a conversion to Shakerism while visiting the Mt. Lebanon Shaker settlement near Warren, Ohio. Shakers, who were members of the United Society of Believers in the Second Appearing of Christ, believed that their leader, Mother Ann Lee, embodied the second coming of Christ. Members of the community donated all personal property to the group, took a vow of celibacy, practiced gender segregation, and led a simple life of work and prayer. Growing to more than 300 members in 1850, the self-sufficient North Union Community thrived in the middle years of the 19th century by selling agricultural products and other hand-crafted items. But as the century progressed, the Shakers could not compete with the growing competition from cheap, mass-produced goods. By 1889, membership was too low even for self-sufficiency, and North Union disbanded. Much of their remaining property was dispersed as members relocated to other communities. | Source: OhioMemory.org View File Details Page

Video

The Shakers

Emily Lang, History Curator, discusses the role women played in the formation and growth of the religious movement known as the Shakers. View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

“The Shakers,” Ohio History Center, accessed December 16, 2017, http://resources.ohiohistory.org/OhioHistoryCenter/items/show/23.

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