Oneida From Free Love Utopia to the Well Set Table go inside Books Of all th century communal experiments Oneida stands out for its success and its foundation on free love
Oneida: From Free Love Utopia to the Well-Set Table go inside Books Of all 19th century communal experiments, Oneida stands out for its success and its foundation on free love. (Interestingly, Shaker communities also survived into the 20th century with the opposite approach to sex.) A descendant of the founders, Ellen Wayand-Smith, digs into the archives to present a portrait of Oneida at the various stages of its development.As he came of age, conventional Christian beliefs about sex weighed heavily on John Humphrey Noyes. From his powerful dreams and visions, he developed a philosophy that integrated free love into Christian beliefs. In his view, the nuclear family was a selfish institution; it did not conform to biblical teachings about love and sharing. He and like-minded Christians pooled their assets to form a colony based on the principle of Bible Communism where sex and material goods were shared. What Wayland-Smith describes is not a Fruitland where religious intellectuals suffer agricultural drudge. This group starts with resources, builds a silk factory and builds traps for game. The communal life is for the colonists who work 6 hours a day. For the employees, conditions and wages are just like any other 19th century sweat shop.For all the sex, there are few children. The community practiced “coitus reservatus” (men who could not conform were assigned post-menopausal women) which over 50+ years and 200+ people produced very few pregnancies. Freed from life-threatening maternity/childbirth and long hours of child care, women served many roles in the community. Love was not totally free, “Complex Marriage” came with strings. John Noyes seemed to control all “interviews” and seemed to have to approve child bearing. He controlled the “introduction of virgins” (Noyes, himself, introduced the females; males, by post-menopausal women). There were separations and penalties when couples fell in love (they got “sticky”) or preferred their own children (philoprogenitiveness ). Wayland Smith takes the reader through all of this and forward into the community’s eugenics experiments (a good example, of how much control Noyes had), the Comstock Law and Noyes’ resulting flight to Niagara Falls, Canada, the dissatisfied youth, changes in corporate structure, enlightened labor policies, outsider control, bankruptcy and Oneida’s near-non-existence as a sold off asset.This book is a fascinating account, but there are a few weaknesses, that, perhaps a second edition will clear up. There are references to communities in Willingham, CT and Brooklyn, NY but these are not well defined. The end seems both stretched and rushed with long descriptions of WWII and post WWII America and little on the community. It gets unclear as to whether the factories are in Canada or the US or both. There are 3 pages on the sex researcher Alfred Kinsey who wanted to (but did not) study Oneida, which “may” have led to the burning of the Noyes Archives. There is nothing on the Oneida Tower, a very visible landmark, which should be a significant milestone for the company. The current status of “the Mansion” (the author visits her parents there, but it seems to be an historic park) and the Kenwood community are also unclear. This is defiantly worth a read if you are interested in any of the topics covered in this book. . A fascinating and unusual chapter in American history about a religious community that held radical notions of equality, sex, and religion only to transform itself, at the beginning of the twentieth century, into a successful silverware company and a model of buttoned down corporate propriety.In the early nineteenth century, many Americans were looking for an alternative tA fascinating and unusual chapter in American history about a religious community that held radical notions of equality, sex, and religion only to transform itself, at the beginning of the twentieth century, into a successful silverware company and a model of buttoned down corporate propriety.In the early nineteenth century, many Americans were looking for an alternative to the Puritanism that had been the foundation of the new country Amid the fervor of the religious revival known as the Second Great Awakening, John Humphrey Noyes, a spirited but socially awkward young man, attracted a group of devoted followers with his fiery sermons about creating Jesus millennial kingdom here on Earth Noyes established a revolutionary community in rural New York centered around achieving a life free of sin through God s grace, while also espousing equality of the sexes and complex marriage, a system of free love where sexual relations with multiple partners was encouraged Noyes s belief in the perfectibility of human nature eventually inspired him to institute a program of eugenics, known as stirpiculture, that resulted in a new generation of Oneidans who, when the Community disbanded in 1880, sought to exorcise the ghost of their fathers disreputable sexual theories Converted into a joint stock company, Oneida Community, Limited, would go on to become one of the nation s leading manufacturers of silverware, and their brand a coveted mark of middle class respectability in pre and post WWII America.Told by a descendant of one of the Community s original families, Ellen Wayland Smith s Oneida is a captivating story that straddles two centuries to reveal how a radical, free love sect, turning its back on its own ideals, transformed into a purveyor of the white picket fence American dream.. The best Books Oneida: From Free Love Utopia to the Well-Set Table I was excited to read this book, especially to understand the connection between electricity, sex, and immortality. ;) I found the author’s writing to be a bit long-winded. I also felt she infused so much of her own personal opinions and judgments that I didn’t know if I was always getting the facts. It is understandable since she is a descendant of the community, but something I didn’t care for. Overall it was a bit dry.