Who Were They
From Shaker Pedia
Who were the Shakers ?
The Shakers, a Protestant religious sect officially called "The United Society of Believers in Christ's second comming", originated in Manchester, England in 1747. "Mother" Ann Lee, "Father" William Lee, "Father" James Whittaker and a small group of followers settled in 1776 at a site called Watervliet, now in the Town of Colonie outside of Albany, New York,.
The community they started grew through the 1800's to 23 relatively self-sufficient communities, The Shaker population peaked of approximately 4,500 members in the mid 1800's, fading to only a few Believers, in one community in Maine, by 2015.
Why are the Shakers interesting ?
Imagine a group of 100-300 people doing nothing but working and praying. Their motto is "Hands to Work, Hearts to God". Now, imagine that group being mainly farmers or doing small crafts, amidst the family farms in (mostly) New England in the late 18th and 19th centuries.
Their relative wealth and productivity was incredible. Add to this, their contemplative nature, as such they wrote extensive journals about their activities and interactions with the "world's people". Multiply that by 16 (larger) communities they settled from Maine to Kentucky, even as far south as Georgia and Florida (for a short time).
As a result of this, they left an amazing trail of words and inventions, arts and crafts of various sorts, had interesting impacts on the law where they lived, built large farms and dwelling places. For those whose interest they catch, there are many facets to explore. We will try to share some of our explorations into the Shaker's History, past and present, with this web site.
Daily Shaker Life revolves around the Church and Work, there are various documents written to codify that life, some of which have be included here. The nature of Shaker life lead to many individual journal, some of which have be transcribed, as all where originally handwritten. Some of those are available here and some have been published in conventional books, which are referenced here also.
- 1830 Shaker Covenant -- this is the document that each member agreed to when joining the Church