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Highlights of the Oneida Community Library

An Essay on the Principles of Population

Inside the Oneida Community's copy of Thomas Malthus's An Essay on the Principles of Population (1817), an OC member (perhaps identifiable by the initials J.W.) commented on the potential of male continence—the preferred method of birth control within the OC—to discredit Malthus's dire predictions of devastating population growth and famine. The writer averred that "Male continence is a recent discovery of parallel importance in the Social department which must be allowed to modify many of this authors [sic] conclusions" (Volume 2, page 286, Ref ID 1114). 




Fratrem Dialogi Tres, de Oratore 

As a young man, John Humphrey Noyes extensively annotated his school textbooks. His 1804 copy of M. Tullii Ciceronis ad q. Fratrem Dialogi Tres, de Oratore, contains numerous signatures, drawings, and amusing annotations from Noyes, his brother Horatio, and a host of other schoolboys. The presence of a bookplate reading "John H. Noyes" suggests that Noyes was once the book's primary owner (Ref ID 139). 




The Rudiments of Latin and English Grammar

The OC copy of Alexander Adam's The Rudiments of Latin and English Grammar (1812) contains the signatures of John H. Noyes on its front board and pastedown, as well as the initials of his sister Harriet on its title page. Someone, most likely John, drew assorted human figures on the textbook's rear pastedown. Because Noyes and his siblings shared textbooks, it is possible that Noyes's brothers and sisters contributed some of the drawings and annotations. That being said, Noyes's signature appears most frequently within the textbooks, as does his handwriting and doodling style (Ref ID 152).




Roman Antiquities

Noyes may have been responsible for drawing mice, soldiers, teapots, and Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus inside Alexander Adam's Roman Antiquities: or, An Account of the Manners and Customs of the Romans (1819). The image on the left is the only instance in which Noyes's signature can be explicitly linked to a doodle in the OC library (Ref ID 1847). 





"Noyes's Farewell Lay to Abigail" (in The Christian Lyre)

In 1838, John Humphrey Noyes proposed marriage to his romantic interest at the time, Abigail Merwin. After she rebuffed him, Noyes channeled his unhappiness into a poem referred to by George Wallingford Noyes (The Putney Community, 1931) as "Noyes's Farewell Lay to Abigail." An unknown individual—most likely Noyes himself—penned a version of the poem on the rear pastedown of Joshua Leavitt's The Christian Lyre (1831). Ironically, marginalia within A Spiritual Lyre reveals that the original owner of the hymnal was none other than Harriet Holton, Noyes's future wife (Ref ID 588). 




The Memorabilia of Swedenborg

The OC library holds an 1846 copy of The Memorabilia of Swedenborg: or, the Spiritual World Laid Open. John Humphrey Noyes signed his name on a flyleaf and bent the corner of page 155 (-156). This page alone was left untrimmed, suggesting that Noyes folded the corner prior to having the sammelband volume bound. Pages 155 and 156 deal with the sexual life of adulterers in heaven. Interestingly enough, Noyes began a relationship considered by many Christians to be adulterous with Mary Cragin in March of 1846 (Ref ID 1678). 




Noyes Family Bible (in The Holy Bible)

The Noyes family bible (1814) contains records of births, marriages, and deaths for John Noyes, Polly Noyes, and their children between the Book of Malachi and the Apocrypha. The births, marriages, deaths, and children of John Humphrey, Joanna, Elisabeth, George Washington, Harriet Hayes, and Charlotte Augusta Noyes feature prominently within the records (Ref ID 373). 





Letter from Almira to Polly Noyes (in The Holy Bible)

Inserted within the second volume of the Noyes bible is an undated letter from "Almira" to Polly Noyes at Putney. It is difficult to determine Almira's identity given that multiple women in the OC shared the first name. Because the letter-writer apologized for indiscretions and promised to improve her behavior in the future, however, it is possible that she was Putney Community member Almira EdsonEdson was excommunicated from the Putney Community in 1841 for pursuing a special love relationship with fellow community member John R. Lyvere (Ref ID 373).




The Social Revolutionist

On January 24, 1869, John Humphrey Noyes received a copy of volume one of The Social Revolutionist (1856-1857), an Ohio-based serial published first by the Rising Star Association and later by the Berlin Heights community. The publication contains numerous tipped-in pages of manuscript annotations about articles relating to Berlin Heights and other radical socialist free love movements. Importantly, this volume contains columns written by Berlin Heights free-lover James W. Towner, who later joined the OC and figured prominently in the events precipitating its dissolution (Ref ID 824). 




Social Destiny of Man

Always open-minded toward theological and sociological texts from other communal societies, the OC owned a copy of Albert Brisbane's Social Destiny of Man, or, Association and Reorganization of Industry (1840). Member Josiah J. Franks acquired the book in 1843 and surrendered it to the OC library upon joining the Community (Ref ID 27). 





The Book of Mormon

The OC library holds a third edition copy of Joseph Smith Jr.'s Book of Mormon (1840), printed by Robinson and Smith and published in Nauvoo, Illinois. The copy contains no marginalia aside from a signature from J.W.F. Adams, who does not appear to have been affiliated with the Community in any way (Ref ID 571). 





The Phalanx 

The OC library holds copies of Brook Farm's publication, The Phalanx, or, Journal of Social Science: Devoted to the Cause of Association or a Social Reform and the Elevation of the Human Race (1843-1845). An unknown individual—most likely an OC member—summarized Charles Fourier's main theories on a flyleaf in The Phalanx. Interestingly enough, the writer made no attempt to pass judgment on Fourierism or Brook Farm (Ref ID 213). 





The Harbinger

The OC Library also holds volumes of The Phalanx's succeeding title, The Harbinger: Devoted to Social and Political Progress (1845-1849). None contain marginalia or inserted materials from OC members (Ref ID 208).





Publications des Manuscrits de Fourier

Around 1855, French utopian socialist Victor Considerant sent the OC a copy of Publications des Manuscrits de Fourier (1849-) alongside a roll of photographs he perceived as illustrative of Fourierism (Ref ID 127)





Excursion en Harmonie (Publications des Manuscrits de Fourier)

The Excursion en Harmonie engraving displayed in the Oneida Community Mansion House may have arrived at the OC along with Publications des Manuscrits de Fourier (Ref ID 127).  The engraving reads "Vue Générale d'un Phalanstére, ou Village Sociétaire Organisé D'apres la Théorie de Fourier" ("General View of a Phalanstery, or Associate Village Organized According to the Theory of Fourier") (Ref ID 127)





Beulah Hendee's Bible (The Holy Bible)

Beulah Hendee, mother of John Humphrey Noyes's eleventh child, signed her name in a Bible (1857) and left some cryptic inscriptions on a rear flyleaf: "Isaiah 22:4 Land of Beulah ; Joppa Jan 4-1876. 11.30 P M ; Jesus wept." Isaiah 22:4 reads "Therefore, I said, 'Turn away from me; let me weep bitterly. Do not try to console me over the destruction of my people.'" Dorothy Hendee Noyes was born on August 22, 1876. One cannot help but wonder if Beulah Hendee's references to weeping relate to her pregnancy given that January 4th would have been eight-to-nine months prior to the birth of her daughter (Ref ID 2123). 




A Holy, Sacred, and Divine Roll and Book

The United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing (Shakers) presented two books as gifts to the OC library. The OC acquired a copy of Philemon Stewart's A Holy, Sacred, and Divine Roll and Book (1843) on January 20, 1875 after a special committee of OC members visited the Shakers at Watervliet. Presiding Elder George Price entrusted the theological text to OC members Martin Kinsley, Ann Hobart, Sarah Dunn, and James B. Herrick (Ref ID 348). 





The Divine Book of Holy and Eternal Wisdom 

The same day, Presiding Elder George Lomas presented a copy of Paulina Bates's The Divine Book of Holy and Eternal Wisdom (1849) to the OC committee (Ref ID 616). On February 1, 1875, the Oneida Circular published an article titled "Visit to the Shakers" that concluded with the sentence "Perhaps one of the pleasantest features of Communism in the future will be frequent exchange of ideas by means of such friendly visits." This speaks to the OC's willingness to learn about other religious and social movements. 




Oneida Community Mansion House Cupola (in Architecture: Designs for Street Fronts, Suburban Houses, and Cottages)

The OC copy of M.F. Cummings's Architecture: Designs for Street Fronts, Suburban Houses, and Cottages (1867) contains two copies of H.S. Armstrong & Co.'s Steam Planing Mill price list. A pencil drawing of a cupola appears on the back of one of these sheets. Given that the drawing bears striking resemblance to the cupolas adorning the Oneida Community Mansion House, it may be a preliminary sketch drawn by Erastus Hapgood Hamilton, the OC architect who designed the Mansion House (Ref ID 2109). 




"I love you" (in The Cultivator)

An unknown individual penned the words "I love you" inside volume four of The Cultivator (1837). Because the issues in this serial volume predate the establishment of the OC, it is impossible to clearly link the annotation to members of the OC. That being said, one cannot help but wonder if the comment reflects the thoughts of OC members. John Humphrey Noyes discouraged OC members from harboring the spirit of special love toward family members, friends, or sexual partners. Since "I love you" borders an unrelated article about Galloway cattle, it may have been intended to serve as a covert message from one Community member to another (Volume four, page ten, Ref ID 214). 



Protestant Church of the United Brethren (in An Exposition of Christian Doctrine)

The OC library holds four publications (one postcommunal) relating to the Protestant Church of the United Brethren (Moravians). Of the four, only August Spangenberg's An Exposition of Christian Doctrine, as Taught in the Protestant Church of the United Brethren, or, Unitas Fratrum (1796) contains any significant marginalia. Manuscript inscriptions indicate that Josiah J. Franks gave the book to the OC on June 23, 1874 (Ref ID 346). 




Oneida Community Fruits, Vegetables, and Jellies (in The Dramatic Works of William Shakespeare)

Inside the OC copy of George Steeven's The Dramatic Works of William Shakespeare (1836) is a catalog titled "Price List of Fruits, Vegetables & Jellies packed by Oneida Community" and dated 1874. As its title clearly indicates, the catalog provides pricing information for homegrown goods sold by the OC ranging from tomatoes and corn to pickles and currant jellies (Ref ID 875). 




The Medium and Daybreak

The OC holds volume five of The Medium and Daybreak (1874), a British spiritualist newspaper headed by James Burns. Despite the serial's popular and intriguing subject matter, the bound volume contains few annotations aside from the signature of Samuel Smith, an individual of unknown relation to the OC (Ref ID 891).