New Hampshire

New Hampshire Shakers: The Salt of the Earth

Alongside local historians, dive deep into the history and traditions of the Shakers as you explore their villages and enjoy lectures that teach you why it “’tis the gift to be simple.”
Program No. 24120RJ
6 days
Starts at

At a Glance

First formed in 18th-century England, the Shakers made the journey to American in 1774 to search for religious freedom. At that time they were seen as rebels from Christianity, particularly in the way they brought dancing into worship, and believed in communal ownership. Alongside local experts, delve into the Shakers 300-year-old history and the beliefs they hold dear. Step back in time at some of New Hampshire’s most well-preserved Shaker villages to learn about their challenges and achievements while also gaining a deeper understanding of the desire to live a quieter, simpler life.
Activity Level
Varies by date
Getting on/off a motor coach, standing and walking at historic sites.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Join historians at one of the oldest Shaker settlements, Canterbury Village, and at the well-preserved Hancock Village.
  • Immerse yourself in the unique traditions and culture of the Shakers from dancing and simple living to pacifism and gender equality.
  • Study how the Shakers impacted modern society with their important inventions, herbal medicines, interesting textiles and more.
Featured Expert
All Experts
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M. Stephen Miller
A retired periodontist, Stephen was first exposed to the Quakers when he and his wife Miriam stopped for lunch at the Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, Massachusetts in 1977. They stayed for the afternoon to see the village, and by 1978, Stephen was collecting Shaker artifacts. His collection now includes over 14,000 items, all of which are due to be housed at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. Miller has researched, curated, lectured, taught and published widely about the various Shaker industries.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

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M. Stephen Miller
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Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Inspired Innovations: A Celebration of Shaker Ingenuity
by M. Stephen Miller
Since the late eighteenth century, Shakers have exerted an influence on our nation wholly disproportionate to the size of their communities. Their approach has helped shape everything from craftsmanship and ingenuity to concepts of communal living and work ethic. And while much of our modern-day fascination with the United Society of Shakers centers upon their unique attention to craftsmanship, the innovative spirit they brought to simple, Godly living is indeed the most timeless aspect of their legacy. From their earliest days, the Shakers have depended on innovations of every sort to secure their place in a world that was, initially, hostile to their so-called “peculiar” beliefs: community, celibacy, and primitive Christianity. These innovations included improvements, adaptations, refinements, and inventions. Inspired Innovations is the first book devoted to this widely acknowledged but long neglected aspect of Shakerism. A group of thirteen distinguished Shaker scholars, led by M. Stephen Miller, presents in this lavishly illustrated volume their research on the many “zones” of innovation that are considered here. Historians Scott T. Swank, Glendyne R. Wergland, and Stephen J. Paterwic “set the table” for a feast of words and images. The book features 350 full-color images, complete with descriptive captions and technical data.
History of the Shakers at New Lebanon
by Isaac Newton Youngs
Shaker Brother Isaac Newton Youngs served his community at New Lebanon, New York, as a tailor, clockmaker, mapmaker, mechanic, inventor, musician and hymn writer, lens-grinder, stonecutter, button maker, bookkeeper, journalist, tinsmith, printer, pipe fitter, joiner, and blacksmith. He built a sundial, made tools including a weaver's reed, turned clothespins, made knitting needles, and laid floors. He was also an architect and roofer. Few aspects of life at New Lebanon were outside of Youngs's sphere of activity. Therefore, it is fitting that he undertook to write a comprehensive history of his community, systematically treating all facets of Shaker life and culture. Youngs's A Concise View Of the Church of God and of Christ, On Earth is printed here for the first time in unabridged form. The editors have carefully transcribed and annotated the text, and have selected illustrations to complement Youngs's descriptive text. Additionally, appendices supplying vital statistics, and information on the occupations of New Lebanon Shakers (many of which were compiled by Youngs) are included. Finally, a selection of Youngs's poetry rounds out a rich portrait of the lives and talents of Brother Isaac Newton Youngs, and his beloved Shaker brethren and sisters, as they labored humbly in the creation of a unique world where work was worship, and heaven was all around them.
From Shaker Lands and Shaker Hands: A Survey of the Industries
by M. Stephen Miller
Shaker communities grew and thrived during a period of tremendous social and cultural changes in nineteenth- and twentieth-century America. While the Shakers have traditionally been seen as standing apart from these developments, more recent scholarship has emphasized the degree to which the Shakers were actively engaged with the world and times. One of the most vital areas of intersection was the economic realm, where the Shakers produced and marketed a wide variety of products. From Shaker Lands and Shaker Hands documents the surprising breadth and depth of the industries pursued by the Shaker communities, from the well-known Shaker chairs to seeds, herbal medicines, textiles, and foodstuffs. While much has been written about Shaker philosophy and its manifestation in their material culture, scant attention has been paid to the vibrant economic life needed to support their communal way of life. As this collection shows, each community engaged in a broad range of commercial activities, astutely marketing not only the products of their farms and craft shops, but also establishing a level of quality widely associated with the word “Shaker.” This lavishly illustrated, full-color book documents the products, their sophisticated packaging, and the marketing strategies employed by the Shakers over a span of two hundred years.
The Shaker World: Art, Life, Belief
by John T. Kirk
Although only a handful of the Brothers and Sisters of America's unique Shaker community are left, the Shaker legacy lives on in the architecture, furniture, crafts, and inventions they created. Shakers were famous for their unusual way of life, for the excellence and simplicity of their work, and for the dance worship from which they drew their name. A comprehensive and insightful text discusses the origins and beliefs, the work and daily life of these remarkable people, and more than 200 full-color photographs taken especially for this book by Michael Freeman richly illustrate their environment and creativity. More than a book of architecture and design, Shaker: Life, Work and Art is a celebration of this fascinating American society and a tribute to their pursuit of perfection.
Necesssary Beauty: How Shakers Sisters Saved Their Sect
by Catherine Goldring with M. Stephen Miller
The Sisterhood is powerful; this book shows how Shakerism has survived to the present day.
Neither Plain nor Simple
by David R. Starbuck
The Canterbury Shakers of New Hampshire are the most studied Shaker group in America and provide an excellent text case for historical archaeology. Survey work carried out from 1978 until 1982, followed by excavations from 1994 onwards, investigated and mapped 600 acres around the village. Evidence from these, along with documentary evidence and interviews, is used here to build a picture of the built and natural environment of the Shakers whilst also evaluating the Shakers' own self-image. What studying the material culture from the Canterbury Shaker village has revealed is that the `strict, sombre image of the early years was gradually replaced by a less rigid lifestyle that allowed for more individual expression and more consumer choices'.
Shaker Life, Art and Architecture
by Scott T. Swank
This is the definitive book on Canterbury Shaker Village. The author's lucid text and detailed captions bring to life the legacy of Shaker objects and architecture. In addition, he provides a time line, a bibliography, travel information, and notes.
The Shaker Experience in America
by Stephen J. Stein
This is the most comprehensive history of the Shakers so far, drawing on oral and written testimony to trace the history and evolution of the Shakers, set within the broader context of American life
Hancock Shaker Village
by John Ott and Christian Goodwillie
This is a brief history of this Community and a guide to the buildings located at the Hancock Shaker Village.
Shaker Heritage Guidebook
by Stuart Murray
n 1776, Shaker leader Mother Ann Lee immigrated to New York and established the first Shaker community at Watervliet. Before the Civil War, 6000 Shakers populated communities around the United States. Murray ( Norman Rockwell's "Four Freedoms , " among others) has written a guidebook to the 25 past and present Shaker communities. Noted for their life tenant of celibacy and the motto "live in the world but not of the world," Shakers have captured modern-day interest in their architecture, furniture, crafts, music, cooking, and arts. The book begins with a description of Sabbathday Lake, Maine, home of the eight remaining Shakers. Each chapter contains the history of a site, tourist information including notable places to visit that have information on that particular Shaker community, old and recent photographs and illustrations, and maps. This book is a solid addition to travel, history, and religion collections. --Janine Reid, Jefferson Cty. P.L., Lakewood, Col. Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Historical Dictionary of the Shakers
by Stephen J. Paterwic
“Shakerism teaches God’s immanence through the common life shared in Christ’s mystical body.” Like many religious seekers throughout the ages, they honor the revelation of God but cannot be bound up in an unchanging set of dogmas or creeds. Freeing themselves from domination by the state religion, Mother Ann Lee and her first followers in mid-18th-century England labored to encounter the godhead directly. They were blessed by spiritual gifts that showed them a way to live the heavenly life on Earth. The result of their efforts was the fashioning of a celibate communal life called the Christlife, wherein a person, after confessing all sin, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, can travel the path of regeneration into ever- increasing holiness. Pacifism, equality of the sexes, and withdrawal from the world are some of the ways the faith was put into practice. This second edition of Historical Dictionary of the Shakers contains a chronology, an introduction, appendixes, and an extensive bibliography. The dictionary section has over 300 cross-referenced entries on Shaker communities, industries, individual families, and important people. This book is an excellent resource for students, researchers, and anyone wanting to know more about the Shakers.

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