Success of the Shakers

While the Shaker Societies were not the only Utopian communities that were popping up during the early years of the United States, they were one of the few longest lasting communities with two remaining members left at the Sabbath-day Maine location.

The Shakers were considered one of the most established utopian communities that sprung up in the early years of the United States. Persecuted in their home land, the Shakers followed Mother Ann Lee abroad in hopes of the chance to start over and develop their community away from judgement. Over the course of their history, the Shakers developed eighteen communities along the Eastern Coast of the United States, with each community housing roughly one hundred to six hundred members. At their most active time in the mid-1800s, the Shakers in total had approximately five thousand members.

The success of the Shakers lies not only in their continuance today but also in the influence they had on society and culture as whole. The Shakers relied on conversion for members as they believe in celibacy and so while they needed to separate themselves from the rest of society they also relied on it for trade and members. The Shaker brand and image is what had the greatest influence on society and the beginning consumerism era. The Shaker brand was known for its simplicity, reliability and elegance and this image shaped the ideas of artists and how they looked at ideas for furniture and architecture. Drawing on the ideas of the Shakers, new movements in the art world and in products for consumers began to develop around the ideas of simple but elegant design that the Shakers invoked. The Shaker influence on this age was vast, if not totally revolving around the ideas of its religious purpose.


Moore, William D. ““You’d Swear They Were Modern”: Ruth Reeves, the Index of American Design, and the Canonization of Shaker Material Culture.” Winterthur Portfolio 47, no. 1 (2013): 1-34. doi:10.1086/670158.

Nicoletta, Julie. “The Gendering of Order and Disorder: Mother Ann Lee and Shaker Architecture.” The New England Quarterly74, no. 2 (2001): 303-16. doi:10.2307/3185480.