Communal Societies Collection


The Special Collections of Hamilton College include a substantial gathering of primary and secondary source materials relating to American Communal Societies: groups of people who have intentionally separated themselves from society in general and live according to a shared set of principles, whether religious or secular, in common ownership of property. This collection consists of manuscripts, printed works, visual materials, audio/video materials, ephemera, and a limited number of artifacts from the eighteenth through the late twentieth centuries. The collection is particularly rich in primary source materials from the following communities:

  • The Israelite House of David
  • Mary's City of David
  • The United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing, commonly called Shakers
  • Kerista
  • The Society of Separatists at Zoar
  • The Community of True Inspiration, the Amana Colonies
  • The Harmony Society
  • Rajneeshpuram
  • The Ruskin Commongood Society
  • The Koreshan Unity
  • Snow Hill Cloister
  • Father Divine
  • Topolobampo
  • Church of the Messiah, American Colony
  • Bishop Hill Colony
  • Oneida Community

The aim of the collection is to be comprehensive for imprints relating to all aspects of American Communal Societies, and strong in materials relating to the Kentucky Revival, the Reformed Methodists, the Burned-Over District, the early Adventist movement, Spiritualism, and nineteenth-century reform movements. We also have a number of imprints from the Rogerenes, the Ephrata Cloister, the Unitas Fratrum or Moravians, and periodical literature related to Robert Owen.

Printed materials in the Communal Societies Collection are findable in the library's online catalog ALEX. Selected photographs and ephemera are viewable through the Digital Collections portal. Manuscript materials are being cataloged, and finding aids are currently available for some parts of the collection. Please contact Christian Goodwillie, Director and Curator of Special Collections and Archives, for more information or to schedule a research visit. Hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday though Friday.


Christian Goodwillie, Director and Curator of Special Collections and Archives
E-mail: cgoodwil (at) hamilton (dot) edu
Telephone: (315) 859-4447

Special Collections
Burke Library
198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323

(Reviewed: January 7, 2017)



Image - Amana Society Product Label
Amana Society

Image - Bishop Hill thumbnail

Bishop Hill Colony

Image - George J. Adams

Church of the Messiah

Image -- Father Divine

Father Divine

Image -- The Harmony Society

Harmony Society

Image - Benjamin Purnell

House of David

Image -- Kerista

Kerista Commune

Image -- Cyrus R. Teed (Koresh)

Koreshan Unity

Image -- John Noyes

Oneida Community

Image -- Rajneesh Puram


Image -- John Ruskin

Ruskin Commongood

Image - Shaker Woman


Image -- Snow Hill Cloister

Snow Hill Cloister

Image -- Sun Ra

Sun Ra

Image -- The New City (cover)

Topolobampo Colony

Image -- Woodhull and Claflin's Weekly (cover)

Woodhull and Claflin