Vol. 51 No. 3 (2003)
Research Article

The Culture of Shaker Placenames: Sacred Geography and Communal Biography

Published 2003-12-01



From 1776 to 1898, the Shakers established over twenty villages across the eastern and midwestern United States. Shaker theology and communitarianism defined the basis for the spiritual names of these settlements and the pragmatic descriptors that identified sites and buildings within each village. Despite a fluid doctrinal system and a geographic reach that extended across a third of the continent, the church's values remained remarkably consistent throughout its two centuries of development: purity, unity, simplicity, equality, and industry. As a reflection of these values, Shaker placenaming practices helped shape the movement's history into a communal religious biography.


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