Oneida Community

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The Oneida Community was a Religious commune founded by John Humphrey Noyes in 1848 in Oneida, New York. The community believed that Jesus Christ had already returned in the year 70, making it possible for them to bring about Christ's millennial kingdom themselves, and be free of sin and perfect in this world, not just Heaven (a belief called Perfectionism).

The Oneida Community practiced Communalism (in the sense of communal property and possessions), Complex Marriage, Male Continence, Mutual Criticism and Ascending Fellowship. There were smaller Noyesian communities in Wallingford, Connecticut; Newark, New Jersey; Putney, Vermont; and Cambridge, Vermont. In Putney, the authorities attempted to have Noyes arrested for his unorthodox sexual practices.[1] The community's original 87 members grew to 172 by February 1850, 208 by 1852 and 306 by 1878. The branches were closed in 1854, except for the Wallingford branch, which operated until devastated by a tornado in 1878. The Oneida Community dissolved in 1881, and eventually became the giant silverware company Oneida Limited.[2]


Community structure

Even though the community reached a maximum population of about 300, it had a complex bureaucracy of 27 standing committees and 48 administrative sections.

The manufacturing of silverware, the sole remaining industry, began in 1877, relatively late in the life of the Community, and still exists.[2] Secondary industries included the manufacture of leather travel bags, the weaving of palm frond hats, the construction of rustic garden furniture, and tourism.

All Community members were expected to work, each according to his or her abilities. Women tended to do much of the domestic duties. Although more skilled jobs tended to remain with one person (the financial manager, for example, held his post throughout the life of the Community), Community members rotated through the more menial jobs, working in the house, the fields, or the various industries. As the Community thrived, it began to hire outsiders to work in these positions as well. They were a major employer in the area, with approximately 200 employees by 1870.

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