Document Type



Fall 1993


Syracuse University Library, John Humphrey Noyes, Oneida Community, Spencer Klaw




Arts and Humanities


FOREWARD: When in 1962, I first visited the rare book collection of the Syracuse University Library to begin researching the history of the Oneida Community, I explored the foundation of what is now a distinguished and growing body of material related to America's most complex communal venture. That foundation had been laid when Lester G. Wells, then curator, acquired a full run of the Community periodicals and a substantial body of pamphlets. The "O. C. Collection" as outlined by Wells in his 1961 bibliography* provided me with enough data to grasp the details of Community life reported in their own periodicals. Since then many researchers have journeyed to Syracuse to mine those periodicals and pamphlets (in 1973 they were made available on microfilm to other libraries), and I am sure that scholars will continue to explore the primary sources gathered by Mark Weimer and opened in 1993.

PREFACE: SEVENTY YEARS AGO -in reply to a letter from Hope Emily Allen that was full of trepidation about the handling of the Oneida Community's legacy, especially by one Mrs. Smith-George Bernard Shaw wrote: I agree with you that only a symposium could do justice to the Oneida Creek Community's history: but the difficulty seems to be that the witnesses wont sympose. This being so, there is nothing for it but to let Mrs. Smith tell her history and provoke retorts, so that we shall get the symposium in different covers instead of in one book.1 Hope Allen, a respected medievalist, was born in the Mansion House a few years after the breakup of the Oneida Community. She became the Community's archivist after her return as an adult to Oneida. Shaw's keen interest in the Oneida Community was most fully articulated in his essay "The Perfectionist Experiment at Oneida Creek", which appeared as part of "The Revolutionist Handbook" appended to Man and Superman (1903).


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