You are here


Collection Information

Image - Shaker Woman


This collection consists of digitized materials related to the United Society of Believer's in Christ's Second Appearing, more commonly called Shakers. Non-digital printed materials can be found in the Special Collections Department of the Hamilton College Library.

Background Information

Who are the Shakers?

The Shakers are one of the most successful communal societies in America. Established in New York in 1774 when Ann Lee and a small group of followers emigrated from Manchester, England, the Shakers developed a system of communal living with rules governing all aspects of life. Initially they established villages in New England and New York, but later spread into Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana. The movement peaked with approximately 4500 members around 1840. Shaker numbers declined throughout the late 19th and the 20th centuries. Today there is one active community at Sabbathday Lake, Maine.


In the world today, "Shaker" is most commonly associated with a style of furniture. While Shakers were very industrious, innovative, and inventive, all of this was underpinned by their religion.  Shakers believe that the Christ Spirit returned to earth through the vessel of Mother Ann Lee. Converts to her message confessed their sins, practiced celibacy, and eventually community of goods. Living the "Christ life" according to these precepts is the goal of the spiritual resurrection of Shakerism. Shakers believe in a biune God, both male and female. They practiced gender and racial equality (for the most part) throughout their history. Many Shaker families were vegetarian, and some were early advocates for abolitionism and women's rights.


The Shaker collection at Hamilton College Library is rich in manuscript, printed, visual, audio/video materials, as well as ephemera and a few artifacts. Major additions, such as the collections of Scott and Elizabeth De Wolfe, Walter A. Brumm, Richard Brooker, M. Stephen and Miriam R. Miller, and Lauren and Julie Stiles, have greatly increased our holdings.

Shaker Communties

For more on the various American Shaker communities see: Shaker Communities.

Materials Digitized

Visual Materials

These are photographic images of Shakers and their communities. Included within it are: postcards from the Scott De Wolfe Collection, Shaker-made albums from the Walter A. Brumm Collection, the Richard Brooker Collection, and the Lauren and Julie Stiles Collection of stereoviews. We are constantly acquiring new materials in this area. Items currently digitized include:

  • 444 photographs (including Shaker-made albums, as well as mounted cabinet cards)>
  • 1566 postcards (most published by the Shakers)
  • 325 stereoviews
  • 79 cartes de visite

Printed Publications

  • The Shaker Manifesto

    The official monthly publication of the United Societies of Shakers of America from 1871 to 1899.

    We display images and transcription of every page of a full run of the journal: 16 volumes, 349 issues, and 8,136 pages.

    Digitization of this collection was made possible by grants from the New York State Regional Bibliographic Databases and Interlibrary Resources Sharing Program through CLRC (Central New York Library Resources Council). Metadata for the collection was created by library staff.

    This presentation of The Shaker Manifesto was recognized by the Communal Studies Association with their Outstanding Project Award for 2007.


  • Current Record of Events from 1792 to 1885

    A community journal for Shaker Village, East Canterbury, New Hampshire, 107 pages.

    Includes digital images of each page, transcription of the text, and TEI color encoding of all names and places.


  • Over 800 product labels

  • More than 50 examples of stationery (letterheads, order forms, invoices, advertisements, etc.)

External Resources


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: February 21, 2014)


Content Menu

Finding Aid

Visual Materials

Try a keyword search on the Shaker visual materials.

(opens a new browser tab)



(opens a new browser tab)

(opens a new browser tab)

Search the ephemera by keyword (e.g., cure, ointment, seeds, etc.

(opens a new browser tab)


Search for people in the general Shakers collection (Does not include The Shaker Manifesto, which must be searched separately (see above).

Personal Names

(Results will display in a new browser tab.)

Special Subjects

Search for images for words in the cataloged records of the digital Shaker collection. This search does not include The Shaker Manifesto.

(Results display in a new browser tab.)