Perhaps the most successful—and notorious—experimental community was John Humphrey Noyes’s Oneida. A lawyer who was converted in one of Charles G. Finney’s revivals, Noyes believed that the millennium would occur only when people strove to become perfect through an “immediate and total cessation from sin.” In Putney, Vermont, in 1835 and in Oneida, New York, in 1848, Noyes established perfectionist communities that practiced communal ownership of property and “complex marriage,” in which each member of the community was married to every member of the opposite sex. Exclusive emotional or sexual attachments were forbidden. After the Civil War, the community conducted experiments in eugenics. Other notable features of the community were mutual criticism sessions and communal child rearing. Noyes left the community in 1879 and fled to Canada to escape prosecution for adultery. As late as the early 1990s descendants of the original community could be found working at the Oneida silverworks, which became a corporation after Noyes’s departure.

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History

Already have an account?

Please click here to login and access this page.

How to subscribe

Click here to get a free subscription if you are a K-12 educator or student, and here for more information on the Affiliate School Program, which provides even more benefits.

Otherwise, click here for information on a paid subscription for those who are not K-12 educators or students.

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History

Become an Affiliate School to have free access to the Gilder Lehrman site and all its features.

Click here to start your Affiliate School application today! You will have free access while your application is being processed.

Individual K-12 educators and students can also get a free subscription to the site by making a site account with a school-affiliated email address. Click here to do so now!

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History

Why Gilder Lehrman?

Your subscription grants you access to archives of rare historical documents, lectures by top historians, and a wealth of original historical material, while also helping to support history education in schools nationwide. Click here to see the kinds of historical resources to which you'll have access and here to read more about the Institute's educational programs.

Individual subscription: $25

Click here to sign up for an individual subscription to the Gilder Lehrman site.

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History

Upgrade your Account

We're sorry, but it looks as though you do not have access to the full Gilder Lehrman site.

All K-12 educators receive free subscriptions to the Gilder Lehrman site, and our Affiliate School members gain even more benefits!

How to Subscribe

K-12 educator or student? Click here to get free access, and here for more information on the Affiliate School Program.

Not a educator or student? Click here for more information on purchasing a subscription to the Gilder Lehrman site.

Related Site Content